How Do Joints Compare to Dabs in Strength?

Time for a quick round of “Would You Rather…?”: Special Cannabis Edition!

But instead of the normal scenarios requiring players to select from two less than desirable choices (“Would you rather drink bong water that hasn’t been changed in a month, or eat the scrapings of built up residue from the bowl of that same bong?”), here is a far less stomach-churning version.

Would you rather smoke a joint, or do a dab?

(“Both” is not an answer, but good idea.)

Whichever your preference, congratulations, you win, because there are no wrong or bad choices between the two options.

However, when the question is slightly rephrased as far as “Which will get you higher?” some new research shows it’s an easy choice if your sole intent is to maximize the amount of THC and/or CBD your body can take in.

And before I am besieged with outraged comments from rolling paper makers and glass dab rig blowers, both ingestion methods are wonderful, and this is based on science and not preference, okay?

High Times has published results of a Swiss study by researchers at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Bern.

Because the study took place in Switzerland at a university—and not in a garage with you and questionable friends—the research was solid. The High Times piece has a bunch of very cool and scientific-looking photos of the equipment they used, and it’s worth taking a look before ranting how these results were rigged by “Big Concentrates.”

Researchers used cannabis products that had been seized by authorities, including concentrates that, based on labelling, is believed to have come from Washington State—which is a rather impressive distance.

The researchers had a German lab test their samples, and concluded that the BHO dab tested at 71 percent THC, and the flower at 17 percent.

The Swiss, bless their hearts, are many things, but cutting-edge stoners they are not.

The researchers touted their use of “a new form of application for these extracts”—that cutting-edge tool being a titanium nail commonly used in dab rigs.

They served up dabs of between 160 and 230 milligrams on the nail, heated it up until it was “red hot,” a temperature that researchers admitted that probably resulted in “temperatures at which vaporization was accompanied by combustion,” which most likely impacted the results.

The results and how they were calculated were summed up by High Times: “The cannabinoid contents in the trapped condensates were tested to determine the lung availability and decarboxylation rate. Lung availability is the recovery of THC in the condensate.

The BHO had 75.5 percent lung availability while the canna-flowers were only able to recover 26.7 percent. Both smoking and dabbing decarboxylated more than 99 percent of the THC-A.”

Have a high tolerance and little time to partake? The time to consume a joint’s worth of flower was two minutes, the dab took five seconds.

Although preliminary in nature, the results showed that while the amount of THC in the joint and the dab serving were about equal, the joint “wasted” 300 percent more THC than the dab hit.

Sadly, machines did the testing, not several lucky Swiss scientists.

Josh Taylor is a well-known and successful entrepreneur in the legal cannabis space, producing B2B and B2C cannabis events, "Backstage Budtending" and upscale concierge services through his companies and His weekly syndicated newspaper column and features about cannabis ran for five years until March 2020.

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