Worthington Police Sgt. Shawn Dysert is watching Facebook for trends, much like a terrorism task force member tracks chatter between dangerous groups.
He says current chatter about dabbing indicates it is already here in the community.
Posts like “I just have the best dabs ever…I’m stoned” are a window into an emerging drug trend.
“This would be the marijuana equivalent to crack cocaine,” said Dysert.
Experts say it's not particularly common in Central Ohio yet, but Franklin County Sheriff’s investigators recently seized evidence of it.
On the street, it’s called dabs, wax, BHO or butane honey oil.
To get to the end product, makers put marijuana’s most potent parts in a container. They use flammable butane to extract the THC, the pot plant’s active ingredient. Users inhale the end product.
Major Steven Tucker from the Franklin County Sheriff’s office said it is potent. He talked about the concentration of THC in just one dab:
“A number of the different studies, some people believe 70 to 90 percent.”
Other dab experts say that’s significantly higher than what you’d find in a marijuana joint or even early concentrates.
Since dabs surfaced in Ohio for casual use about 18 months ago, Mike Powell, a drug educator with Operation Street Smart, has made it his business to understand and collect the tools of the trade. He shows it all to parents in his lectures to make sure they know about dabbing.
Powell calls dabs the most concentrated form of weed there is.
A drug addict in rehabilitation explained why it would be attractive to users.
“Just like it used to be cool to smoke a joint, it's going to be cool to smoke dab because everyone's trying to get out of themselves, trying to figure out that way that's the easiest,” said the man who did not want to be identified.
The Maryhaven Treatment Center’s Paul Coleman worries people will become addicted to the easy high and that’s not his only concern.
“The first health risk is the risk involved in production of the product. It can blow up. It can cause fire,” said Paul Coleman, Maryhaven CEO.
It’s already happened in Columbus. November court documents say an illegal honey oil cook caused an apartment explosion. In Grove City, a butane-related blast blew off a refrigerator door, knocking a hole in the wall.
"It went from being a rumor in the shadows to people casually talking about it, as we saw on Facebook,” said Dysert. “When it's normal to talk about it, it's normal to do it.”
“It's very frightening for us - all of us,” said Powell.