Since 2011, at least 68 people were treated for burns caused by butane hash oil fires and explosions, at northern California burn centers, including Shriners Hospital for Children, Sacramento, and at the UC Davis Regional Burn Center.
Usually those making BHO suffer the most, but several times it has happened at homes with children. The most recent baby who was badly burned in a hash oil (BHO) explosion was a 19-month old boy at a student housing complex in Montana. The law has not kept up with the problem, as parents who engage in this deadly practice still have custody and visitation rights. Children are threatened by neighbors who do it, too.
Butane hash oil (BHO) production is a marijuana extraction process which has exploded in popularity over the past three years. The victim had burns covering 28% of the body, according to Dr. David Greenhalgh, reporting to the Sacramento Bee in August. A past president of the American Burn Association, he called hash oil burns an “epidemic.” Greenhalgh’s research in wound care, skin grafts and reconstruction make him a leading national figure in the burn field.
Thanks to quick emergency response and to the quality of emergency medical treatment available in the United States, it appears that all of the children have survived. However, we have raised a group of young adults who are so accustomed to hearing “marijuana is safe” that they have no notion of the need to protect children from the dangers pot involves.
Those who make BHO and cause the explosions–31 in Colorado, this year, 20 in San Diego County within a year, 6 in Riverside County, 6 in San Bernardino County, 6 near Portland, OR and 7 in the Puget Sound—have been extraordinarily lucky. Of those who died from hash oil explosions, at least one was in California, one in Oregon and one in Hawaii. Two of the deaths were neighbors who were affected by the fires. In Spokane, WA, a neighbor with respiratory problems died two months after the fire in January, while in Bellevue, WA, it was a former mayor of the city who died from a broken pelvis. (see previous articles on this topic)
Downloadable Fact Sheet
Get the Parents Opposed to Pot Hash Oil Facts! Download our new flyer, which describes the hash oil explosions in states which have permissive marijuana laws: POPPOT-Hash Oil Statistics.
Hash oil explosions increase with legal marijuana, as has happened up and down the west coast, including four explosions in late November, one each in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. There is a question as to how much lax enforcement of marijuana laws in parts of Washington, Oregon and California have allowed the practices to continue.
Fires while in the Care of Neglectful Parents
At least 2 children died by fire this year when neglectful parents smoked marijuana. BHO is not the only way marijuana users threaten children by fire, because pot-smoking parents can be “out of it” and consumed by addiction. Two-year-old Levi Welton of Sterling, Colorado, was left alone with his four-year-old brother with matches while his parents smoked marijuana with friends in another room. (The parents and his brother survived.) In Oregon, during the last week of October, a mother was high on marijuana as a fire consumed her four-year old son. Neighbors reported her too stoned to be aware and to show any emotion when her son died.
It also happened last year in a state without a legal marijuana program. In Pennsylvania woman pled guilty to leaving her 3-year-old twins to die in a fire while she left the house to see whether her marijuana had been stolen by her 15-year-old daughter. Police say the boys turned on a burner on a grease-covered stove, sparking flames that soon engulfed the house.
The cost of an addiction is putting the substance ahead of the loved ones. About 1 in 6 who begin using marijuana under age 18 become addicted, although marijuana promoters claim it is not addictive.
Oregon recently enacted a law forbidding daycare employees and operators from using medical marijuana. Let’s hope other states follow suit, and that, in family courts, states do not give custody and visitation rights to marijuana-using parents, especially those making BHO.
As California Gov Jerry Brown has said, the world is too dangerous a place for Americans not be alert by using pot. This concept applies to parenthood. Parenthood is too large a responsibility for us not to protect our children. We need not expose small children to the manufacture of BHO or put them in the care of parents who prioritize marijuana over their children. However, when neighbors make hash oil, parents may have no warnings.
Our tolerance for marijuana has taught a new generation of young adults that marijuana is safe. Making BHO is mainly done in western states, but the explosions have happened in Florida, Ohio, Massachusetts, Florida, Chicago, Michigan, Virginia, Houston. It will spread east if we don’t watch out. No longer should anyone say, “safer than alcohol” or “it’s just pot.” We have sent the wrong message, and need to replace it with a message that parenting and pot use do not mix.