Toxicant Formation in Dabbing Cannabis: The terpene story

Posted on December 29, 2021 View all news

Every Brain Matters Takes Action and we need your help!

Now on our site, you will find well-researched professional letters addressing the science behind the many harms of marijuana, to send to your legislators, doctors, business associates, city council, or anyone you think needs to read them. These are all peer-reviewed, free, and approved by a team of doctors and researchers.

These letters have been compiled for our EBM Advocacy team by medical and research professionals, and now are available for your use! They are part of an ongoing project to educate Congress led by EBM Advocacy members and cover a wide variety of topics:


Dear                             :

On 7/15/2021, the Surgeon General issued a warning on health disinformation. He was referring to Coronavirus, but misinformation is costing lives in drugs, addiction, and marijuana use. 

I am contacting you today to share science-based health policy on marijuana. My goal is to provide you with data and research to support your efforts in advancing legislation that promotes public health and safety for all Americans

You may have been told that marijuana is harmless and even safe. This could not be further from the truth. The science of marijuana harms is not debatable.  Anecdotal claims and unscientific reports are not sufficient evidence to further legalize/promote marijuana use.  

All FDA-approved pharmaceuticals have undergone scientific rigors, protecting Americans for over a century.  There have been FDA approved marijuana-related products since 1985 (dronabinol = THC, Marinol®, generic versions) and 2018 (cannabidiol = CBD, Epidiolex®).  These products have undergone the scientific rigors of medical research unlike the marijuana and current “retail CBD” products — which are not regulated by the FDA — that are sold in many states to an uninformed public.

The goal of this communication, and future communication, is to provide you with peer-reviewed scientific evidence about the many hazards of marijuana. On 1/11/1964, the Surgeon General issued an advisory on tobacco based on review of 7,000 medical publications. To date, there exist over 37,500 articles on marijuana research reports in the National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine (

On 8/29/2019, the Surgeon General emphasized “the importance of protecting our Nation from the health risks of marijuana use in adolescence and during pregnancy. Recent increases in access to marijuana and in its potency, along with misperceptions of safety of marijuana endanger our most precious resource, our nation’s youth.”  

U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory: Marijuana Use and the Developing Brain |

Attached please find an accessible peer-reviewed scientific article on the topic of toxicant formation in dabbing (cannabis): the terpene story.

  • Three Key Points:
  • The results of these studies indicate that dabbing, consistent with vaping, delivers significant amounts of toxic degradation products (i.e. methacrolein, benzene, 1-3 butadiene).  
  • Benzene concentrations (the largest single known cancer-risk air toxic) found in heated dabbing terpenes are greater than those found in ambient air.  Methacrolein is structurally similar to acrolein another powerful pulmonary irritant.1-3 butadiene is a known carcinogen and mutagen found in the Prop 65 carcinogen list in California.
  • Terpenes are naturally found in cannabis products and are added to some dabbing products.  Normally terpenoid degradation by heat is of little concern in standard cannabis products but is problematic when vaporization using high temperatures occurs.  Long term impact of these terpenoid degradation substances can have major effects in humans.

Thank you for reading the letter and the accompanying peer-reviewed scientific article. If you can help find any peer-reviewed, scientific articles that show that cannabis terpene products found in dabbing are safe and effective for human consumption, please send them to me.

With regards,

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