'The Dangers of Dabbing'

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(05/07/15) - He didn't want his face shown, but a 21-year-old man, who spoke exclusively with ABC12 News, has a lot to say about an emerging drug spreading across the Midwest.

"One dab or one hash oil hit is probably equivalent to smoking three or four joints at once," he said. "Kids just sit around and do dab after dab after dab or keep continually smoking it and passing it around. They're really inhaling a serious form of THC into their system."

THC, also known as Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the level of cannabis that makes you high. Teens are using it to the extreme in a powerful and illegal form of marijuana.

"When I first tried it, it was sort of like a hallucinogen trip. It enhanced like the sunlight and made everything brighter. It was almost like some sort of Euphoria I guess people desire," the man said.

It's popularly called "Dabbing" or "wax" by teenagers because of its color and consistency. Makers use Butane to extract the glands from marijuana leaves using a tube. It's then caught in a glass dish. Purging off the Butane, which if it's left lingering in the air, can be very dangerous.

"We always have explosions. We always have severe burns. It's something that can wreck your body and your life forever," said Lt. Dave Kaiser, with the Michigan State Police.

Surveillance video on YouTube shows a house explosion in 2013 in Washetaw County. Three people were inside at the time, but managed to get out safely. Authorities confirmed that Butane inside the home led to the explosion.
Kaiser says law enforcement is noticing wax becoming a very serious problem.

"I know the Bayonet team, which encompasses six different counties had approximately eight to 10 cases this year. Officers on the street have seen this product selling for as much as $600 an ounce," Kaiser said.

Scott Masi is an outreach and referral specialist at Brighton Center for Recovery, a facility that helps young people battling drug addiction.

"I can tell you, from talking with school administrators and school teachers, they're not even aware of it. Because of our population being significantly 18 to 25 year old, the majority of kids that have come in here have dabbled with dabbing or with wax. Marijuana, the flower, right now nationally, is anywhere from 11 percent to 21 percent THC. Now when you talk about wax or extracts, like they're referred to in the communities that have commercialization, they get as high as 90 percent, almost 100 percent THC content," Masi said.

Masi worries about the possible long-term effects.

"We haven't seen this, so we really don't know what it's going to lead to, but we're starting to see the impact that it has on mental illness," Masi said.

The man we spoke to, who was former user, has now been clean for nearly four months. For those teens out there dabbing, he urges them to turn their lives around.

"You're not missing out on anything. Because it's led me to where I am today, which has been rehab, jails and institutions. The only thing I haven't had is death and that's because I sought help," he said.

Masi says the DDA recently classified wax as a separate drug than weed. Not only is wax spreading across the Midwest, officials tell us it's emerging in the Northeast as well.

Masi also says dabbing is so new there are not many statistics proving any damage at this time. Recent articles show doctors fearing that it may trigger psychosis.

The former user we spoke to tells us there was an instance where he had to receive medical treatment. He says he accidentally smoked and inhaled WAX containing mold, which had a bad effect on his lungs. The man says it turned out to be Aspergillus mold.

He says he wants teens to understand that, yes, you may be curious about wax, but in the end, you do not know for certain what you're inhaling.

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