BHO Fires, Other Dangers for Older Children of Stoner Parents

(Read Part1 of this series on older children with pot-using parents. Upload our fact sheet about children’s death related to marijuana use.)

Infants and toddlers are vulnerable to negligence and abuse by marijuana-using parents. How are older children vulnerable?  In Gresham, Oregon on September 25, a mother suffering from anxiety who used marijuana several times a day, shot and killed her 17-year-old son.  The recently-divorced mom was losing her home, had quit her job and was suffering from anxiety. The stress of her situation is understandable, but marijuana is the wrong way to cope with stress.  It ultimately increases anxiety and can lead to psychosis, too.

BHO Fires are a Threat to Children

Another big problem is butane hash oil fires. Two years ago in Medford, Oregon, a 12-year old girl jumped out of the second story window and sustained several broken bones during a butane hash oil (BHO) explosion. The two adults were flown to a burn center.  BHO is an extract from marijuana that amateur chemists make in homes, apartments and hotels.   Other names for it are “wax,” “shatter,” “honey,”  “budder,” “dabs.”

Butte County had two recent BHO fires that put children in imminent danger. During the first week of November, a BHO fire in Oroville, CA, endangered seven children, ages 2 to 12.   Four adults were present.

In late November of last year, two teenage boys were badly injured in another hash oil blast in Oroville, while their uncle was making BHO at home.  The lab exploded and the two boys were severely burned on over 40 to 60 percent of their bodies.   They were 13 and 15 years old at the time. (Above photo, Butte County sheriff).  

The two teen boys landed in intensive care at Shriners Hospital for Children in Sacramento.  They were covered in gauze, had breathing tubes in their throats, and their faces raw and red from the massive third-degree burns they suffered.   They underwent many months of surgery and medical treatments.  Their survival has much to do with the expertise of Dr. David Greenhalgh who has a specialty in treating burns caused by butane hash oil blasts.

Since 2007, Greenhalgh has treated 101 patients whose burns are assumed to come from hash oil fires, at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and Shriners Hospitals for Children, Northern California.  The burns represent about 8 to 10 percent of all burn patients, more from car accidents, according to Dr. Greenhalgh, chief burn surgeon at both hospitals. “It’s kind of an epidemic for us,” he said.

Passing laws to stop the amateurs from making BHO haven’t been easy. On August 7, Governor Brown signed SB 212, a bill that will reclassify the crime of operating a BHO and methamphetamine lab as aggravated felony. (Californians try to sweeten the concept of BHO by calling it “honey oil” instead of hash oil, which may confuse people in other states  where BHO means butane hash oil.)

Teens Get Sick, Leading Police to a BHO Lab

One of the teens who brought marijuana brownies and lemon squares to a Puyallup, Washington high school learned from her father.  He kept a BHO operation in his basement. When police arrested her for making other high school students sick, they went to the home and found a huge grow site, as well as the lab.

This home grow and hash oil labs in Puyallup,WA, was discovered when a girl served hash brownies to other HS students who got sick Above AP Photo/JenniferLinsley420Denver, 2013
This home grow and hash oil labs in Puyallup,WA, was discovered when a girl served hash brownies to other HS students who got sick Above AP Photo/JenniferLinsley420Denver, 2013

This home grow and hash oil lab in Puyallup, WA, was discovered when a girl served hash brownies to other HS students who got sick.

Marijuana does more harm to the adolescent brain than any other drug, and there is good reason to look negatively at parents who have no qualms at exposing THC to young brains.   (Part 3 will show what happens when parents are sharing their pot with middle and high school students.  We previously published a series profiling the problems when parents of little children use pot.)

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