Two massively read and re-reported articles spotlighting extractors were posted in the last few weeks. Up until now, nearly all dab-related journalism (exempting our own coverage and stray articles by High Times and similar niche sites) was centered on explosions, arrests, or the new menace plaguing school yards.

But some more thoughtful journalism is now examining the scene. And it’s getting a lot more attention than any of the “boom” and scare news stories ever did. The most prominent among the new crop is an in-depth piece by Mike Sager, an Esquire writer-at-large sometimes credited as his generation’s answer to Hunter S. Thompson’s poetic druggy reporting. “Dab Artists: The craftsmen at the front edge of the marijuana‑concentrate boom” was published earlier this month in The California Sunday Magazine.

The article follows outlaw California blasters to a couple of different Secret Cups and also examines certified state-of-the-art CO2 extraction set-up Organa Labs in Denver. It is, we humbly admit, probably the most accomplished piece of journalism ever written on the subject of extraction or dab culture, portraying the whole business and scene as one composed of passionate, intelligent craftsman and connoisseurs.

The article has received a fair amount of media attention in other outlets including NPR’s All Things Considered, which interviewed Sager last week. That means that a lot of middle-class, educated, NPR-listening people are likely getting their first serious dose of exposure to dablife culture. And awesomely, that all-important first impression is a positive one. In the interview, Sager likens blasters to “artisanal” craft-brewers.

Less positive, but not exactly demonizing is a Buzzfeed article, “Wax Is Weed’s Next Big Thing And No One Knows If It’s Safe” written by Amanda Chicago Lewis and published at the end of last month. Lewis’s piece focuses on the feud between extractors Django Broomfield and ice hash king Matt Rize. The article makes Rize look like a snitch and a baby, Broomfield like a psycho criminal, and wax itself like an untested, risky commodity.

Concentrates aren’t depicted as inherently hazardous, but the piece takes the stance that because so little of it is regulated or even agreed upon with a common sense, its health risks are not yet fully known. The lack of standardized testing for chemical compounds like residual butane or plant lipids, the article suggests, means extract consumers often don’t fully know what their filling their lungs with. A laboratory researcher quoted in the article hypothesizes that lipids, which burn off when you smoke flower but not when you dab wax, could damage the respiratory system after long-term use.

Though it’s challenging, the Buzzfeed piece does not come off as biased or under-researched. In our (again humble) opinion, it’s a good bit of reporting and it also has some pretty great wax pics.

The good news about both these articles is that they take the discussion of hash oil in the mainstream press to the adult’s table. These reporters are looking at extracts from multiple perspectives and informing their readers in a way that let’s them make up their own mind. This, along with some of our coverage, starts media coverage of the 710 world off with a step in the right direction. It’s interesting to think what the dab-scape will look like in a few years. There will be books and TV shows and all that goodness, which means we have a chance right now to affect how rosy the mass culture’s perception of the dab world becomes.

Photo via Thomas Prior/The California Sunday Magazine

Parker Winship