Where Does the Term “Dab” Come From?

image of small tongs holding up marijuana shatter with a black background, this is helping show the what dab means

Cannabis concentrates are quickly becoming the most popular marijuana products on the market. A few years ago, cannabis flower was the most popular product in the industry. Concentrates like wax, shatter, and live-resin are taking over the market; hence, the rise of the industry holiday, 710. While the world of cannabis already has its own language, the rise of concentrates has created tons of new marijuana vocabulary. One term that comes up a lot among consumers is the slang terms “dab” and “dabbing.” Many new consumers are a bit lost when it comes to cannabis concentrates. It’s no shock many people don’t even know what taking a dab means, ask most new consumers, and they’ll probably say it’s the famous dance that swept social media recently.

What is a Dab? image of a dab rig being heated with a blow torch that is partially out of frame

Let’s start off by establishing that a “dab” in the world of cannabis, has nothing to do with the dance move known as “dabbing.” Although, both terms did become popular around the same time. Nevertheless, their meaning and history are completely separate. The definition of dabbing is the act of vaporizing concentrated cannabinoids using specialized equipment. It’s an alternative method of consuming cannabis and happens to be the most potent method of consumption. That said, the term “dab” is referring to the serving size of cannabis concentrates. When anyone asks how much of a cannabis concentrate is a single serving, most experts will tell them “a dab will do.”

Using “Dab” in a Sentence:

  • “Wow, I’m ready for a dab!”
  • “I can’t wait to get home and try out these new dabs!”
  • “Could you pack me a dab?”
  • “These dabs are fire!”

Overall, the term dab merely refers to cannabis concentrates as a whole; in particular, the serving size of a dab. Taking more than a dab of concentrates can be an extreme experience. The average cannabis concentrates range from about 60 percent to 90 percent THC. The potency of concentrates is why the term dab has become such a widely used slang in the industry. It’s the easiest way to ensure consumers ingest the right amount every time.

The History of Dabs image of a dab being held over a dab rig, ready to be consumed

While the term dab may be a bit newer to cannabis, the act of dabbing has been around for quite some time. Some say cannabis concentrates date as far back as the 1940’s. There are even some who believe cannabis extracts could date as far back as B.C. Over time, we continued to fine-tune extraction methods and the overall quality of cannabis, which lead us to the cannabis concentrates we have available today.

Time Line of Cannabis Extracts:

  • 1500 BCE ? The first appearance of a form of cannabis concentrate.
  • 12th Century CE ? Hashish became widely popular throughout Asia and Europe.
  • 19th Century ? The first form of marijuana tinctures hit the shelves.
  • 1937 ? Cannabis becomes federally illegal.
  • 1970’s ? Hashish becomes popular in the United States.
  • 1980’s ? The amount of cannabis grown in the United States begins to increase. Cannabis concentrates slowly start becoming available. (mainly hashish)
  • 1990’s ? California is the first to take a leap towards medical marijuana and creates the first partially legal market in the United States.
  • 2000’s ? Bubble Hash becomes available.
  • 2010 ? The first cannabis cup takes place, and a plethora of new cannabis concentrates begin hitting the market. (primarily BHO extractions)
  • 2015 ? The market begins to see higher quality concentrates such as distillate and live-resin.
  • 2018 ? There are a multitude of different concentrates using unique extraction methods with a variety of different solvents.

It’s safe to say that when the legal market began to take hold is when the term “dab” most likely originated. The term dab was unknown in the cannabis community until around 2010. Granted, the exact history of the term is unknown.  It was not until BHO concentrates hit the market that consumers began using dab rigs and vaporizers. Nevertheless, learning cannabis terminology is vital for consumer education.

Scoop up some dabs at a nearby dispensary!