Blunt Trauma: Vaping Cannabis Extracts Might Hit Your Lungs With Cancer-causing Gunk

Man Smokes Weed With Vape Pen
Tegra Stone Nuess / Getty Images

You’ve heard of dabbing, right? No, not that kind of dabbing. We’re talking about the process of putting a small amount of cannabis extract—called a dab—on a heated surface and inhaling extremely high levels of cannaboids in the vapors.

And as marijuana continues to become legalized and grow in popularity (even a few pro athletes swear by the stuff), dabbing is becoming more widespread, partly because it’ll get you really high. But new research is providing evidence that this method of getting stoned could have some pretty serious consquences for your health.

Vaporizing cannabis extracts—like butane hash oil—can produce benzene and other potentially cancer-causing chemicals, according to a new study published in ACS Omega, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

In the study, researchers from Portland State University analyzed the chemical profile of terpenes (fragrant oils found in marijuana that are also used in e-cigarette liquids) after vaporizing them in a process similar to dabbing. Their findings? The experiments produced high levels of both benzene and methacrolein, carcinogens that have been shown to cause cancer.

While the topic is still controversial, studies show that weed can have both positive and negative effects on your body. So while we’re not gonna tell you to stay away from the stuff altogether—on the upside, it’s been linked to having a lower body mass index—you might want to consider exactly how you’re smoking it, too.

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