Dr. Rav Ivker is calling for a ban on dabbing which he says serves no medical purpose and increases the risk of addiction.
A budtender displays marijuana “wax,” a concentrated form of marijuana, on the first day of legal recreation cannabis sales in California, January 1, 2018 at the Green Pearl Organics marijuana dispensary in Desert Hot Springs, California. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
Dr. Rav Ivker, one of the most respected doctors working in medical cannabis, is calling for a ban on cannabis concentrates.
“I think they should be illegal,” he told Westword. “In fact, I hope they become illegal. The only thing they’re good for is getting really high. But they’re high-risk, and there’s really no benefit from them.”
Cannabis addiction, he says, is real, and he thinks concentrates exacerbate that issue. The idea that cannabis isn’t addictive stems from a simpler time, he suggests, when hippies were puffing on pot that was only 5-10% THC. Concentrates with 90% THC or more in them, he says, are entirely different.
“Today—and we’re talking about just the marijuana flower—the highest sativa strains can contain 25 to 30 percent THC,” Ivker said. “That’s what most people are smoking. And what they’re dabbing can be two or three times more potent than that.”
Besides the issue of addiction, Ivker worries that concentrates are especially appealing to young people, and that early exposure to concentrates could be bad for their mental health.
“[Those] who are most attracted to these products happen to be adolescents and young adults—people in their twenties,” Ivker said. “And even more concerning than the addiction problem is the fact that our brains are still developing until we’re in our mid-to-late twenties. The THC affects brain function and can create a higher risk of schizophrenia, and that’s really awful. We’re definitely seeing an increase in the number of young people developing schizophrenia from the daily use of cannabis. I think that’s the greatest health risk of all, and one common denominator is that people who are at the highest risk for developing schizophrenia began using daily before the age of eighteen.”
A recent Arizona appeals court ruling banned hash-derived cannabis extracts saying hash does not qualify for the state’s medical marijuana program. And in Oklahoma, lawmakers are currently debating whether to institute caps on the potency of cannabis products, with several hospitals and medical institutions recommending a limit as low as 12% THC, according to Tulsa World.
Settling the debate on dabs and other high-potency extracts may be tricky as researchers have only just begun to study these products. One of the only studies done on the potential harms of dabbing, at Portland State University, found that high-temperature dabbing released toxic chemicals, but didn’t look into psychological issues. Some studies have focused on that issue, like this troubling case of extract-induced psychosis, but the jury is still out on whether they’re universally harmful.