Dab culture is going mainstream.
The enjoyment of hash, aka cannabis concentrates, or dabs, was once limited to only the most experienced of connoisseurs. To be included in dab culture one needed to have considerable knowledge and an array of elaborate accessories.
Now, the culture around dabs —and the people who enjoy them— is evolving. There is a visible consumer shift from shatter snobs to the canna-curious trying to sneak a puff on the down-low. The culture is changing —and it’s coming for the status quo.
Is 710 is the new 420?
710 is not to be confused with popular stoner holiday 4/20, based off the code ‘420’ for the time to get high—4:20 p.m. The emergence of dab culture hath borne a new so-called holiday—710, which can happen every day at 7:10 p.m., and spells the word “oil” upside down.
While 7/10 or July 10 doesn’t have the same notoriety as April 20, the holiday is an example of the increasing popularity of consuming concentrates. The emergence of 710 isn’t just an excuse to get day-stoned, it shows how dab culture has gone mainstream.
The myth of the dab
While the old adage ‘start low and go slow’ is always good advice, concentrate enthusiasts say that the widely-held notion that dabbing—typically a solvent hash like BHO wax on a dab rig—is guaranteed to knock one out completely is a misconception.
“I find that it’s a more clear-headed high [than smoking flower] because it’s the refined form of the terpenes . We get the full flavour profile without the plant matter combusting,” explains Steph Martens, Director of Marketing for Phyto Extractions.
“You don’t have the tar or the chlorophyll burning in [the extract], and that produces a bold flavor profile. The effect is not as heavy or not as mind-altering as a joint would be.”
“For some of my non-cannabis friends, it’s been eye opening – and becoming a lot more normalised and out in the mainstream. It’s pretty cool to see.”
Phyto Extractions Marketing Director Steph Martens
If you’re new to concentrates, 710 is as good a time as any to branch out and sample a new product. The good news is you also don’t have to drop hundreds, or more, on a dab rig to enjoy them.
For consumers who are accustomed to flower and want to expand their horizons, rolling shatter into a joint or crumbling some into a bowl is a great way to sample a taste. Martens recommends chilling it in the fridge beforehand for easy crumbling.
The artistry of dab accessories
The legalization of cannabis in 2018 created a drastically increased demand for stylish smoking accessories. Beyond the previously limited options that placed function over form, the current market of cannabis accessories teems with gold-plated grinders, bongs-cum-décor, and Instagram-ready rolling trays.
The same can be said of dab accessories, a set of hot knives or a makeshift dab rig simply won’t do. A growing appreciation and culture for extracts has spawned a bustling subculture of artisans creating pieces that would not look out of place displayed in a gallery alongside the likes of Chihuly.
“There is such a cool artsy culture around dab culture,” Martens says.
One need look no further than a local head shop to see remarkable examples of functional artwork like this crab rig from Becky Feather, this owl from Four Winds Flameworks, or this fruit salad of pieces from Glass by Boots.
Martens cites Netflix’s glass-blowing series Blown Away as an example of the increased visibility of artisanal cannabis accessories.
“For some of my non-cannabis friends, it’s been eye opening – and becoming a lot more normalised and out in the mainstream. It’s pretty cool to see,” she says.
The democratization of dab culture
Previously the territory of cannabis connoisseurs, the emerging popularity of concentrates has heavily contributed to the democratization of dab culture.
While initially one of the more expensive genres (and thus least accessible) of products, the price point on licensed offerings has plummeted dramatically since the initial launch of second-wave cannabis products in December 2019.
“The original shatter that launched in the market through Fireside was something like $89 a gram or half-gram or something ridiculous, but they’re not like that anymore. They’ve come down drastically,” Martens says.
“Phyto shatter is one gram for $40 MSRP in Ontario, and BC, so that’s a really approachable price point. If you’re new to consuming –at a lower price point– you wouldn’t be put out too much if you bought this product and didn’t love it the first time.”
With education comes accessibility
Education has also played a huge part in rendering dab culture safer and more accessible to the average weed lover – and budtenders are catching on.
“It’s not as simple as just selling flower. There’s a larger component of education to make sure that the budtenders are comfortable with [concentrates],” says Martens.
“We were getting feedback from some retail head offices and managers that they require more concentrate education, so we’re doing more product knowledge videos and sessions on how to consume.”
As concentrates start to lose their mystique and become increasingly mainstream, the future of dab culture may be simply to become re-absorbed into cannabis culture as a whole.
It could be a while before a jar of shatter is as ubiquitous as a jar of flower, the cultural shift suggests that it may not be as far off as we might have imagined pre-legalization.
“Concentrates and accessories and education have been really working in tandem,” says Martens. “There’s so much to learn.”