Dabbing Hysteria Exposed: Drug-Abuse Educator Slams ABC 15 for Exaggerations
Anti-drug educator Shane Watson often thinks about his appearance in a viral ABC 15 news story about the "threat" of dabbing.
MaryEllen Resendez exaggerated the impact of dabbing on Shane Watson's life, according to Watson.
"It's not an exaggeration to say that for a short period of time, it ruined my life," says Watson, who works for the local drug-prevention organization notMYkid.
He's not talking about dabs, one of several terms for concentrated hash oil.
Rather, it was the September 16 broadcast on ABC-15 (KNXV-TV) that messed him up.
We noticed the online version of the piece by reporter MaryEllen Resendez while researching our April 3 article on hash oil and dabbing.
"'Dabbing' the new drug of choice for teens?" ran the headline in the TV news story. Anchor Katie Raml introduces the piece by saying hash oil is a "new danger" and that "experts say it's becoming a real threat." Resendez says, "Sadly, it's becoming the choice of drug among teens, some as young as sixth grade."
Resendez relies on Watson heavily for the article and -- though mentioning his prior use of booze and heroin -- makes him sound like the West's most prolific dabber.
Watson's group shares some culpability for the problem -- after all, notMYkid and Watson jumped at the chance to be interviewed by ABC 15, probably because they figured the free publicity might be beneficial. Yet even without Watson's complaints, a careful viewer would have noticed something suspicious about the way the video was edited to help tell the story:
Watson's quoted as saying he believed he could "outpower" his addictions.
Then Resendez tells viewers, "But when Shane moved from marijuana and alcohol to hash oil, it began to control him."
Back to Watson, who describes for the camera what smoking hash oil feels like: "It was intense. I felt like I was walking through wet concrete."
Both the broadcast video and online article tell how, "Watson lost a decade of his life to addiction. He hurt those around him and soon found he had lost everything."
A Google search for "dabbing" reveals that this article and broadcast piece was extraordinarily popular, picked up by hundreds of ABC affiliate stations and news sites across the country. And it was criticized heavily by marijuana advocates.
Russ Belville, who writes for High Times magazine and has a radio show, featured Resendez's work prominently in a widely read October article about the media's coverage of "dabs."
"Following a brief explanation of what 'butane hash oil' is without ever mentioning it is essentially marijuana," Belville wrote, "the bulk of the story features Shane Watson, a rehab counselor and recovering addict, explaining how awful his life became because of BHO."
That's the impression anyone who read or saw the story likely received.
But it's nonsense, says Watson.
He's "dabbed" exactly once in his life, he tells New Times.
And he insists that's what he told Resendez.