The cannabis world is a veritable maze of different and changing terminologies. Many within the industry maintain a thorough command of much of the established vocabulary, but there still remains large vernacular forces at play that can keep the unexposed world at an arm’s length.
When it comes to the world of dabs, extracts, oil, wax, 710, and cannabis concentrates, the gap is gargantuan even though it is being bridged by the growing understanding of the benefits cannabis oil can have for a clear subset of those in acute medical need. The dab and recent dabbing dance craze has certainly not helped clear things up — it is muddling those search terms on Google and in everyday conversation — I no longer balk when I hear a story that a politician, celebrity, or luminary “dabbed”. However, there are other dab-related terms and colloquialisms that point to the continuing rise in the popularity of extracts.
My personal experience narrowed cannabis to usually “weed” or “bud” in my nascent years of partaking — there was little usage of “cannabis,” “marijuana,” “pot,” or “reefer.” When moving to Southern California nearly half a decade ago, cannabis concentrates were mostly in the form of crumbles and budders. More often than not, “wax” would be the term associated with these products. Turn to the present-day and you might hear “oil” used to describe concentrates more frequently.
In this series, we want to track how the world of cannabis concentrates is evolving. One useful barometer to aid our cause is Google Trends, which allows us to understand the popularity of keywords relevant to dabs over time.
In our first installment, we want to examine dab terminology that shows a skyrocketing interest in cannabis concentrates — an interest we don’t expect to see slowing down anytime soon.
“Cannabis Oil,” “Dab Oil,” and “How to Smoke Dabs”
The first basic but essential terms that display the clear upward interest in concentrates are “cannabis oil” and “dab oil.” Both show a steady increase in google popularity in the five-year span we examined.
We also examined terms like “butane hash oil” and “BHO” (this search’s ability to forecast within the industry is impaired due to the 44th U.S. President having the full name Barack Hussein Obama) concluding that the more mainstream terms of “cannabis oil” and “dab oil” are winning out in colloquial adoption. Both “butane hash oil” and “hash oil” peaked in interest on Google Trends in 2014 and now only sit at a fraction of their peak.
More and more people who are understandably new to dabbing are asking Google, “How to Smoke Dabs” — it’s definitely a process that lends itself to instruction before embarking on the journey.
“Cannabis” vs. “Cannabis Oil”
In the extract world, there are dozens of words bandied around that are synonymous to cannabis concentrates or used to describe a specific form or consistency of concentrates. This dispersion of terms and this new frontier of extraction puts the newer and more emerging terminology surrounding dabs at disadvantage to being more widely adopted when pitted against the well-established search terms, “cannabis,” “weed,” “marijuana,” and “pot”. A large number of recent extract-specific terms do not even show up on Google Trends because they do not receive enough search traffic.
As of February 2017, searches for “cannabis” are nearly 14 times more popular than searches for “cannabis oil.” Extracts still have a ways to go before they reach parity with flowers.
“How to Make Cannabis Oil” and “How to Make Dabs”
Cannabis consumers and medical patients are not only searching for places to buy dabs, oil, and extracts, but they are also wondering how to make dabs of their own. The question of home-made extraction stirs up controversy and some of the known dangers associated with open-air blasting. It is not all reefer madness but it is often spun as such. In the past handful of years, the development and adoption of mandatory safer techniques based around closed-loop extraction have become more and more mainstream — according to Google Trends “closed loop extraction” had next to no interest until mid-2013.
What are a few factors driving the increasing popularity of cannabis extracts?
A significant majority of the states in America and a large majority of the population have formally recognized the medical merits of cannabis. More than 65 million people live in a state allowing legal, recreational cannabis use. Atop this rising tide, cannabis extracts will not likely see a decrease in interest unless political conditions force it.
As legalization and access to medical marijuana research make headway, anecdotes and medical success stories from the use of cannabis oil are also further to the forefront of mainstream reports. Whether it’s combating seizures and epilepsy associated with Dravet syndrome, tremors associated with Parkinson’s, or chronic pain from a multitude of disabilities, cannabis oil and CBD-specific treatments are becoming more accepted by the entire adult population.
In terms of the recreational use of concentrates, the stigma of dab vapor is almost non-existent because there are very few people who suspect that your stealthy dab pen is anything other than an e-cig. Also, the terpene-loaded scent of a dab pen puff bears almost no resemblance to the immediately detectable and identifiable scent of flower. In recent years even President Obama has voiced that cannabis is less dangerous than weed, and who could forget the Choom Gang?
The heady glass art movement will always leave new entrants to the world of both cannabis or dabs with their jaws dropped. With functional glass art continually pushing the boundaries of the medium by developing new colors, color-changing techs, and astounding sculptural glass architecture, the mainstream art world is and will continue to take notice of museum-worthy masterpieces and the artists who create them.
Not only are some of the world’s top artists pushing the envelope, but up-and-coming North American glass artists who make everything from bubblers and bongs to dab rigs and one-off pieces are catering to an ever-growing contingent of the cannabis curious. Once newly interested medical or recreational users realize they can visit glass galleries or smoke shops with cases upon cases of artistically made pieces, many are glad to never have to resort to a cheap gas station pipe again.
There have been other examinations of cannabis terminology through search, by The Cannabist and Leafly, however none delved into dabs/extracts/concentrates specifically. We hope to continue to examine more dab-related terms to understand how the industry is constantly shifting through the popularity of keyword searches on Google.
Photos courtesy of Allie Beckett.