NBC News, Yahoo, Fox News, Fusion, WebMD and over a dozen other news sources are quoting a new research paper on hash oil use which says that dabbing might lead to dependence and addiction.

This news aggregate chain reaction started with an article in Live Science earlier this week on the findings of a new medical paper, “Assessing the Dangers of ‘Dabbing’: Mere Marijuana or Harmful New Trend?” by John Stogner, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

The Live Science article is rife with inaccuracies and generalizations. It paraphrases Stogner’s sentiments, saying that “it would be a mistake for parents and kids to assume dabbing is not more worrisome or worse than smoking flower cannabis.” Like most news articles concerning hash oil, the only extraction method mentioned is butane blasting. Like most news articles concerning hash oil, dabbing is firmly linked with gruesome descriptions of BHO explosions.

But unlike most articles concerning hash oil, it leaves a reader who doesn’t have much knowledge of hash or cannabis with the impression that dabbing could lead to addiction. “In the only previously published study of dabbing,” it reads – without hyperlinking or even naming the source or authors of this study – and continues, “…researchers found that the users viewed dabbing as more dangerous than other forms of cannabis use because they reported it led to a higher tolerance for the drug and worse withdrawal symptoms, suggesting a possibility of addiction or dependence, the researchers noted.”

Yes, this article suggests dabbing could lead to withdrawal symptoms and dependence by paraphrasing a completely un-cited study, despite this phantom study’s strongest evidence in favor of the claim being that some users thought it raised your tolerance.

Given that the active molecules in hash are the same ones in the cannabis flower, THC and CBD, which are not, in any respected medical study, shown to cause physical addiction, this looks like some pretty sloppy reporting. Which makes it all the more surprising that the article has been reprinted and quoted in over twenty other news outlets in the U.S. and abroad.

What really sucks is that there actually seems to be some good information buried within the numerous overstatements and errors. While Stogner is quoted as talking about chemical contaminants in wax (a legit concern, and one users should be schooled on so they can choose the best quality, lab-tested extracts), he’s also quoted by Philly.com as saying that another term for dabbing is “hot-knifing,” which is, at best, sort of true.

It all smells a little of D.A.R.E. propaganda. That is to say, so strongly of bullshit that the little nuggets of truth inside it get masked and covered up. The real issues get trivialized and the trivial ones demonized.

Parker Winship