Earlier this week, I did a dab of a sativa extract. My friend assisted me as he lit a rig with a crème brûlée torch until the metal part was red-hot, poking it with a stick holding a tiny bit of THC wax as I inhaled a grassy-tasting, clean smoke. Although I watched a weird Keanu Reeves movie and felt a bit sleepy, I didn't overdose and die, but according to one Canadian news outlet, I totally could have because it's basically like doing meth!
In an article published Friday morning on CTV News, a journalist who has clearly never had this experience wrote about "shatter" (AKA dabs, a type of THC extract) in a way that made it seem like it was the hottest new deadly drug to enter the scene in the small city of Stratford, Ontario. Within the article, there was a direct comparison between meth and THC: "[Police] say it's not as addictive as methamphetamine, but still poses a high risk for overdose." While this statement was attributed to police, in journalism, it's important to double-check any statements of fact, even if attributed or in the form of a direct quote. If that task had been done in this case, the sentence would have proven to be false.On top of that, the article claimed that, "According to police, shatter is a toxic and highly addictive drug that's 10 times more potent than a marijuana cigarette." Clearly someone at CTV figured out that in some way part of the article was wrong, because as of this afternoon, the piece was edited to exclude these statements—without any note of correction.In case you've been sleeping on cannabis consumption during the past few years, dabs (or shatter as it's occasionally referred to, like in the CTV article, because of the broken-glass-like texture it can sometimes take on) refers to highly concentrated THC extract made from weed using a process involving butane and Pyrex. While the process is admittedly dangerous (one thing the CTV article got right) and can lead to an explosion if done improperly, it can be done safely if using proper lab technique: wearing protective equipment like goggles and gloves and working in a well-ventilated area. Essentially, it's a new-age take on hash oil, which your parents probably smoked if they came of age in the '60s or '70s. The major difference is that in the extraction process for hash oil, the alcohol and butane remain, whereas, if made properly, they are absent from dabs.To make it seem as if dabs are some new dangerous drug is outright incorrect since it's basically just an evolved version of hash oil. No matter how you spin it, comparing the effects and supposed addictiveness of THC to that of meth is not a sound argument. Police, as much as they love to take on the War on Drugs mentality, shouldn't be spreading misinformation. However, as this happens somewhat often when it comes to drugs, journalists should be mindful to not become a mouthpiece in these situations.THC is not inherently addictive, and while some people do stupid things while high on it, it's not in the same capacity as a Schedule II drug. While I have no idea if this analogy was posed by a reporter in the form of a question or if it was simply offered up by police, it by no means holds up. If you've ever seen the "Faces of Meth," you probably understand the effects of smoking crystal. But what you'll notice is that you've never seen a Faces of THC, although, if such a series of photos existed, it might consist of slightly sleepy, chilled-out, smile-bearing people.Follow Allison Elkin on Twitter.