When you’ve never done a dab, you just don’t grasp its power and allure. This method of consumption involves heating up wax, butter, shatter, and certain types of hash to a specific temperature, and clearing the vapor as deeply as you can for maximum effect. It’s growing in popularity mainly due to it’s anecdotally fast relief time from pain and other medical concerns. It also has a clean, smokeless taste that’s similar to the smell of fresh flower when the quality is supreme.
Concentrates taste great in pens on-the-go, but being super honest leads one to admit that the optics of sucking them down in the typical bong-like “rig” method with a blow torch doesn’t do many favors for cannabis normalization. It’s intimidating for a reason — to the cannabis layperson, it looks eerily similar to street drugs.
Between this less-than-societally acceptable imagery and the costs and safety associated with at-home dabbing, it’s just not on the same level of popularity and acceptance as it is in many recreationally legal cannabis states, like California. Using concentrates isn’t just normal in Cali, it’s a natural progression of what must be a pretty high THC tolerance for many medical patients at this point.
For this and many other very chill reasons, San Francisco is among the first cities to allow consumption lounges, many of which allow safe, precision dabs in a clean and private space. It was this curiosity that led me to Barbary Coast Dispensary in the Civic Center/SoMa neighborhood, where trying a dab in a social setting— and after having access to the best products— is a real thing.
Buyer Kit Hall set me up with some of the highest quality 710 Labs Do-si-dos ice water hash to sample in their functionally chic glassware, equipped with an electronically controlled skillet to melt all types of concentrates at the perfect temp. It was way more appealing to me than anything blow torch operated, and seemed no different than a bong or hookah if we’re being real. After cleaning off the mouthpiece with alcohol, I was ready to try a hit. This being only my second dab ever, we kept the total to under an estimated 10mg of THC, but some doses go up to 100mg.
I can’t speak to the recreational effects of such a dab, as it was strong, but I needed it for a medical purpose, and it performed nearly instantly on some severe menstrual pain. The taste was exceptional, like a distilled version of cannabis. I’ve tried oils in pens and joints before, but when you taste an electronic dab with such a clean oil as 710‘s, it was like pure terpene and cannabis flavor, not unlike the highest quality buds on your first spark.
All of this is found right in the shop, which was expanded to include the dab bar as California warmed up to full legalization over its first eight months. Barbary Coast also has an adjacent smoking lounge with full combustion options, so you don’t have to stick to vapes and dabs like many other lounges. If you’re curious about dabbing or looking for a safe place to try it, a reputable dispensary is probably a lot safer than torching in someone’s garage.
Photos: Maria Penaloza