Crazy-High Times: The Rise of Hash Oil

Meet the golden goop that gets you cosmically baked

June 20, 2013
shatter dab hash oil
A monster dab of shatter.
Ry Prichard

Unless you spend a lot of time in medical-state dispensaries, you probably haven't encountered the latest superstrong stoner craze: butane-extracted hash oil (BHO). How potent is it? A chunk of the stuff the size of a Tic Tac can be the equivalent of hoovering up an entire joint in one massive toke. Even for hardcore smokers, the experience – which fans call dabbing – can be like getting high for the very first time. Your head spins, your eyes get fluttery, a few beads of sweat surface on your forehead and, suddenly, you're cosmically baked.

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BHO – which costs between $25 and $100 a gram, depending on where you live – comes in a variety of consistencies: from hard, amber-like stuff ("shatter") to soft, golden goop ("budder" or "earwax"). The basic process is surpris­ingly simple: Pack herb (often leftover parts after the buds have been removed) into a tube and force a solvent (usually butane) through it. The solvent is evaporated off, leaving just the plant's resins – which are chock-full of psychoactive chemicals, including astronomic levels of THC that can exceed 80 percent.

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For maximum, insane-in-the-membrane elevation, fans use a "rig" – a small bong with a titanium nail where the bowl would be. A blowtorch gets the nail red-hot, and when the dab is touched to the nail it vaporizes instantly. (It looks sort of crack-y, leading weed activists to worry dabs could set back the movement.) And BHO got meth-lab-style bad press when amateur chemists forgot they were working with a volatile gas and were injured in explosions.

But as long as it's made by pros, BHO is just megastrong weed – and probably reasonably safe. Still, it can't hurt to take the advice of Ian Williams, a budtender at Denver's Verde Wellness Center: "Use it like a dessert, not like steak and potatoes."

This story is from the June 20th, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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