Tag Archives: BHO

Oregon Measure 91: No Need to Add Commercial Pot Industry

“There’s little in the way Oregon handles medical marijuana that inspires confidence it could do well as a regulator of marijuana for recreational use.”  Clatsop County District Attorney argued this point in the debate of October 20, 2014 at Portland State University.  

Marijuana has been decriminalized in Oregon since 1973.   Oregon’s Measure 91 proposes to add recreational sales of marijuana , which would be in addition to the state’s large medical marijuana program.   Oregonians vote by mail and ballots are due on election day, November 4.   (See PopPot’s 1st post about Oregon, 2nd post and most recent post on Oregon.)

Oregonians voted in medical marijuana back in 1998, but the program gained about 8,900 new registrants this year.  There are at least 193 marijuana dispensaries in Oregon, and it’s quite easy to get a medical marijuana card. Marijuana is low priority for law enforcement, particularly in Portland.   There were  around 2,000 marijuana arrests last year, not more than 12,000 as stated by the Yes on 91 campaign.  It’s hardly a number that takes up too much police enforcement.

Oregonians, be careful.  Under Measure 91, new marijuana stores would be able to open in any neighborhood, unless a community gets 10% of residents to sign a petition denying it.  Please join the Vote No on 91 – Oregon campaign, and check out their news on the Vote No on 91 – Oregon Facebook page.

In Colorado, lots of communities have trouble keeping out the marijuana shops, grows and processors; politicians often listen to businesses before the residents.  As a Coloradan explained, “commercialization’s goal is to privatize the profits and socialize the costs.”     It would not lead to fewer arrests, because as DA Josh Marquis said in a debate, the 71 people in Oregon jails for marijuana-related offenses would still be in jail under Measure 91.OregonNoon91

Oregon Voters Will Decide

1) Do they want the marijuana tourism that Colorado has experienced?  Many people follow the “green rush” to get into the hot new businesses.  Those who do not find jobs end up adding to number of people seeking places at the homeless shelters, and “dumpster diving” for weed.   How strange it would be if a state that does not commercialize its beaches would commercialize sales of a drug to attract businesses to the state.

2)  Fires and explosions from butane hash oil (BHO) production sent 17 people to a Portland burn unit in a 16-month span, according the Oregonian report in May.  The BHO-explosions   caused numerous injuries, extensive property damage and at least one death in Oregon. These blasts happen when amateurs use flammables to extract hash oil from marijuana; the process is becoming more and more popular.   By May of this year, the explosions increased in Colorado by 3x what they were the previous year, up to 31.

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.

Will the new taxes adequately cover fire protection services for these explosions? Cost of treating the burns can run over $1 million. Oregon’s only burn center could be overwhelmed, not to mention property damage.  Do the regulations adequately ban non-professionals from making BHO and other marijuana derivatives?  When the Denver mayor called a meeting in September to fine amateurs making BHO in homes, apartments and motels, there was too much objection.  Although Measure 91 says that  making marijuana derivatives at home is not allowed, this practice is extremely popular and legalization is likely to make it even more common.   The Oregonian did a series of articles on BHO production in May.

3)  Is Oregon ready to handle marijuana the fact that marijuana edibles often imitate popular children’s foods and candies?   Beginning last year in Colorado, and this year in Washington, a much larger number of children have been hospitalized.   The problems with edibles and explosions are summarized in the HIDTA report which outlines a report from Colorado released in August.

4) The taxes received are far less than expected in Colorado.  Oregon will have a lower tax rate than Colorado, around 15% rather than 40%.  A problem will emerge if users sign up for the lower cost of medical marijuana, rather than the full tax of recreation marijuana.  Black markets are still strong in Washington and Colorado.  It’s not likely to be different in Oregon.

5) A person can grow up to four plants in the home, and can possess up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana in a public place, and a person can deliver up to 1 ounce of marijuana to someone else, as long as they are over 21.   (This amount for recreational users is much more expansive than in Washington and Colorado.)  Public use and public marijuana grows will not be allowed, but in Colorado and Washington, it still happens.  Seattle has decided to stop all citations for public pot smoking.

6)  Will communities struggle to keep out marijuana businesses? One Portland neighborhood is already having a problem keeping out medical marijuana business.  Places in Colorado and Washington have been forced to go to Court, or put referendums on the ballot.

Although a judge in Fife, Washington, has agreed with residents not to allow a commercial marijuana shop, the Washington ACLU is appealing the decision, making the business interests ahead of community decisions.

7) Three children have died in Colorado, from parents who neglected them when they smoked marijuana.  A four-year old boy died while the mother smoked marijuana, in a last week in Keizer, Oregon.    It’s not clear how the fire started, but the mother was very stoned at the time.   How will Oregonians protect the children under increased marijuana usage?

DwightHolton8) Medical marijuana in Oregon is regulated by the Health Board and recreational marijuana would be regulated by the Oregon Liquor Commission.  Any criticism DA Marquis leveled at the Health Board or the Liquor Control Commission relates to the ability of regulatory authorities in keeping harmful substances away from those who should not be using.  Parents, communities, friends, etc. must have the same goal.  An industry’s input should be minimal.  As in the state of Washington, those who want to use marijuana for recreational will be tempted to get a medical marijuana card, finding it cheaper.

Measure 91 Does Not Change

The current bans on selling or giving marijuana to anyone under the age of 21 would stay in place, even if legalization is approved by voters.  Laws regarding driving under the influence will remain the same, also, although some opponents don’t think the Measure 91 goes far enough to discourage driving high on pot.

Governor John Kitzenhaber and his opponent, Dennis Richardson, advise voting against Measure 91.  Measure 91 is funded mainly by out-of-state donors, the Marijuana Policy Project and Drug Policy Action Committee.  The campaign received another $580,000 from Drug Policy Action, in addition to the $800,000 from Drug Policy Action Committee given to Yes on 91 earlier this month.   The Yes on 91 campaign currently has over $4 million, at least  24x the amount No on 91 – Oregon has received.  Two years ago, when Measure 80 lost by 8%, the marijuana lobbyists did not fund the Oregon campaign.  They opted to finance the Washington and Colorado legalization efforts, which passed.

The suggestion that legalizing a dangerous drug to fund drug prevention and education is a bit backwards, kind of like creating a problem to solve a problem.   We  don’t believe there will be any money left to to pay for drug education, after paying for all the other services needed with regulation.

Extreme Marijuana–Dabbing and Vaping Dangers

Part 2 of 2

Parents beware, the marijuana culture is promoting extreme highs that can get your kids hurt. Vaping and dabbing are new ways to get high that are extremely sudden, dangerous and eliminate the telltale odor, making marijuana use harder to detect.

Drugs like marijuana are addictive and once a teen gets swept up into the drug subculture, over-use and abuse of drugs is likely. The search for the next big ‘high’ and the impaired judgment caused by drug use is leading some teens to go too far.

Check out this TV News Story about this issue.

Marijuana Becomes Extreme ‘Sport’

Several “weed blogs” and numerous online videos promote the popularity of dabbing.

Dabbing is inhaling the potent vapors from concentrated marijuana oil which is up to 80% THC, the psychoactive element in marijuana. In comparison, a pot cigarette contains up to 18% THC. The intense high from concentrated pot oil can literally knock you unconscious. According to an account of a NORML event in California, one person nearly cracked their skull on the sidewalk and another experienced marijuana smoker broke her two front teeth when she passed out cold after ‘dabbing’.

Honey Oil, photo from the Humboldt Sentinel
Honey Oil, photo from the Humboldt Sentinel

Another grave danger lies in the process of making homemade concentrated ‘hash’ oil. Concentrated marijuana oil is also known as Butane Hash Oil (BHO). It is made by firing up the marijuana plant material with butane, a highly flammable and toxic solvent. This intense burn releases the THC and other compounds out of the plant and concentrates them. The butane then needs to be removed by further heating the concentrate. Adding heat to a highly flammable substance is dangerous business. Any remaining butane becomes a gas at room temperature and easily ignites, even with a small spark of static electricity.

Home Chemistry is Explosive

There have been 31 butane hash oil home explosions in Colorado just during the first 9 months of 2014. California has had an even higher number; numerous have happened on Oregon and Washington, too.  Amateur oil makers are now burn victims and properties were destroyed and neighbors put at risk of harm. See PopPot’s recent article, Hash Oil Explosions Rise this Year.

This more potent form of marijuana, BHO, can be added to food.  Or it is smoked in a variety of ways.  Hash oil bong (called an oil rig) or e-cigarette vaporizer (a technique called vaping) are among the two most popular devices used to smoke BHO.

In dabbing a tiny piece of potent hash oil is put into a small compartment of pipe, vaporizer of pen. Photo: Oregonlive
In dabbing a tiny piece of potent hash oil is put into a small compartment of pipe, vaporizer of pen. Photo: Oregonlive

  The Hidden High

Unlike smoking marijuana, which gives off a noticeable, pungent odor, vaping hash oil is odorless and discrete and can go unnoticed. This means that like an e-cigarette smoker, a marijuana smoker can ‘vape’ in public places, work or even school without fear of consequences or reprisal. This makes vaping marijuana concentrate very appealing to addicts. It means those most likely to abuse the drug and become dependent on it can become more reckless about the use of the drug, thereby risking an overdose, and posing a danger to others.

Even pot culture observers are warning about the risks of vaping and dabbing.  Vaping is growing in popularity, because it allows legal marijuana to be smoked in illegal places, such as ball games, malls, theatres, schools. There is also the risk of not getting all the butane out of the finished product. According to Mother Jones magazine, “When BHO is improperly made, it can be tainted with toxins.”

A hash oil lab that was raided by police in Glendale, CA. Photo: Glendale Police.
A hash oil lab that was raided by police in Glendale, CA. Photo: Glendale Police.

The two main arguments in favor of legalizing marijuana are: 1) that it is not harmful and 2) that it is impossible to overdose.  With dabbing and vaping, we know differently.

For more on this topic read the San Francisco Weekly article, Thanks to “Dabbing,” It Is Possible to Overdose on Marijuana.

See Part 1 What is Dabbing, and Why Should Parents Worry

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 Rise with Legal Pot

Another consequence of changing a public policy to benefit the 6- 7% of adults who use marijuana is the slew of hash oil explosions which have occurred this year.  Making BHO, butane hash oil is a relatively easy, but dangerous, process.

Did anyone figure ambulances, fire fighters and emergency medical care into the cost of legalizing marijuana?  Voters in Oregon, Alaska, Washington, DC, and two cities, Lewiston and South Portland, Maine, need to think of possible consequences before legalizing another dangerous drug.  States considering medical marijuana also need to factor in the legality of making BHO, and the cost for public services when the fires occur.

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.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called a meeting last week to pass an ordinance that would restrict unlicensed  amateurs using flammables to process marijuana.  There have been 8 blasts in the   city of Denver this year, and 31 in the state.  After an objection was voiced at the meeting on September 15, the discussion was tabled.

Congress made a huge mistake, when on May 30, the House of Representatives voted not to allow Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) funds to be used to investigate federal violations in states with medical marijuana.

Like passing child protection laws, or keeping the marijuana businesses out of communities, it seems impossible to pass any restrictions which might stop marijuana consumption, commerce or expansion in Colorado.  (Marijuana has caused three non-traffic deaths in Colorado this year: one incidence of child neglect in January and two deaths from potent edibles, in March and April.)

Firefighters putting out a hash oil explosion in Jefferson County, Colorado
Firefighters putting out a hash oil explosion in Jefferson County, Colorado.  Photo: CBS Denver

The marijuana industry told voters marijuana is “safer than alcohol,” but the social and public service costs must be staggering by now.  The fires and explosions are increasing, because extracting hash oil from marijuana has become more popular.  The promised tax revenues from marijuana are much lower than was projected, and black markets still thrive.

Seared Skin and Burn Centers

“Hash Oil’s Trail of Seared Skin and Annihilated Homes”  reports of one death in Hawaii early this year and one death in Oregon last year. “March Madness” was a term used to describe the numerous hash oil blasts that took place during one month this year.   Five explosions happened in Colorado during one week in April.

Butane hash oil must be made in an open or well-ventilated area.  If the butane sparks something else, explosions can occur.  What makes it dangerous is that butane is highly flammable, sensitive to heaters, pilot lights, electric cords, a cigarette or the slightest spark of a match.

Of the 31 hash oil explosions that had occurred in Colorado by early May this year,  21 involved injuries and 10 of those suffered from major burns requiring extensive treatment.  In the previous year, there were 11 such explosions in the state, with 11 people treated for burns.  According to an official of the state’s burn center, at University of Colorado’s burn unit, the first explosion occurred in 2012. Most victims are males in their 20s and 30s.

A hash oil explosion.  Photo: ABC7 News Denver
A hash oil explosion. Photo: ABC7 News Denver

A  request to search the records of Oregon’s only burn center over a 16- month period showed that 17 people were treated for butane hash oil burns, including two residents of southwest Washington.  A 12-year old girl sustained broken bones after jumping from the 2nd floor, to escape a Medford, Oregon, hash oil fire last November.

In California, during a 14- month period from 2013 to early 2014, 27 people were treated for hash oil burns in one Northern California burn unit, 17 in southern California centers.  In California, it’s legal for medical marijuana patients to use or buy the hash oil, but illegal for amateurs to make it.  We have written previously of the children endangered by theses blasts. 

Fortunately, no one has died in Colorado from BHO-explosions, though some people have sustained horrible burns.

As far as state law goes, making the hash oil in a home is perfectly legal in Colorado, as reported on ABC7 News.  Charges of arson or child endangerment can be filed, however, when there is property damage, others are put in danger, or children are nearby.

Homes, Apartments and Property Damage

A hash oil explosion at a Bellevue apartment complex fire caused one death to a former mayor and $1.5 million in damages.  Photo above and below: US District Court of Western Washington

Federal District Attorneys in Washington, California and Oregon have been excessively slow in response to the explosions, despite the extensive damage to property, deaths and injuries to others.  The explosions began 2-3 years ago on the West Coast, but it is only in the last few months that the Department of Justice appears to have decided that action is necessary.

Last weekend the Los Angelos Times reported 20 butane hash oil explosions in San Diego County, alone, within the year. There was $1.2 million of damage to an apartment building in San Diego last January.  The explosions have occurred from New England to Florida, and from to British Columbia to Arizona.

In May, the Oregonian ran a series of online articles about BHO (butane hash oil), detailing the hows and whys of making it, and the explosions.  It has only become popular in the last 3 years.

The hash oil explosion in a Bellevue apartment complex resulted in severe injuries to those who had to jump
The fire at Bellevue apartment complex resulted in severe injuries to those who had to jump, and one woman who died. Three men have been charged for the incident of Nov. 5, 2013.

On July 22, 2014, the US attorney in western Washington filed charges against seven people, mainly for “endangering human life while manufacturing controlled substances.”  The individuals caused fires or explosions in Seattle, Puyallup, Kirkland and Bellevue.  The Bellevue fire caused a massive explosion to an apartment complex, $1.5 million in damages, and killed a former mayor of Bellevue.   During this occurrence, two women experienced multiple fractures, having jumped from second- and third-floor windows to escape flames.

One of those facing federal charges in Puyallup, Washington, was making the hash oil for a marijuana edibles. He’s the owner of an edibles’ company, “Capn Cosmics.”  Additionally, he’s  charged with endangering the life of a 14-month old child.

The District Attorney in Washington asserts that the actions are illegal, because they cause harm to others and to property, although in the past officials found issues of legality hazy in Colorado, Washington and Oregon.

A California many has been indicted for starting the BHO blast in a Tigard, Oregon, parking lot on July 29. Photo: KoinTV

On July 29 in Tigard, Oregon, a parking lot explosion injured one and destroyed or damaged five motor vehicles.  A grand jury indicted a California man for knowingly and intentionally creating a substantial risk of harm to human life in connection materials exploded, and for manufacturing marijuana.  It’s thought to be the first time the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon has filed charges in connection with a hash oil explosion.

State regulations in California and Colorado haven’t stopped the explosions.  California doesn’t allow medi-pot patients to produce BHO, while Oregon and Washington’s medical pot programs don’t regulate BHO.  Colorado and Washington require BHO to be tested for residual butane before being placed on dispensary shelves.

Why is Hash Oil Popular?

Marijuana users are looking for the quicker, faster high—even though they think marijuana is not addictive.  Yet, there are great psychological risks, too, and some users have had psychotic episodes from using this potent substance.

For sellers, it’s an easy way to make large profits.   However, making it at home is so much cheaper, and it’s gaining popularity.

There are plenty of YouTube videos and other online instructions for amateurs to follow.  Makers begin by putting cannabis leaves and flowers in an extraction tube, like a pipe.  They then put the colorless, odorless butane in that small area to extract the THC quickly, letting it fall through a small filter on bottom.  Spraying with butane is called blasting the marijuana, which pulls the THC right out of it.

Problems are most likely to occur indoors or when there is not good ventilation.

A butane hash “chef” packs a pipe with marijuana trimmings that will be used to make butane hash. (Photo: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

The solvent or butane must be flushed out.  It can be boiled off in a hot water bath, which is why some home producers use hot baths or double boilers. Many commercial enterprises have the butane pumped out with a vacuum vacuum chamber to lower butane’s boiling point, pulling butane from the oil.

The result is a hash oil which looks like honey.  It’s like the crack cocaine of marijuana.  The THC content can be  70 to 85 percent, while the average joint may be 20 to 25 percent THC.  After cooling, the oil hardens and is broken into bits.  Sometimes the explosions occur in the cooling process, as when the refrigerator door blew off in Manitou Springs.

Butane has oil, a highly potent distillation of marijuana, is so potent that a single hit can last more than a day.  (Photo: ABC News)
Butane has oil, distillation of marijuana, is so potent that a single hit can last more than a day. (Photo: ABC News)

There are many nicknames for butane hash oil: “Wax,” “Honey oil,” “earwax,” “dabs” “shatter” and more.   It could be smoked, vaped or infused into the edibles.   Vaping is a concern, since the vape pens are the e-cigarettes of marijuana.  It is  a way that teens may be using marijuana without detection.

In short, hash oil offers a quick and lasting high for users.   A single hit can last more than a day.   By making it, it costs a user about 50% less than it would by buying it from a licensed dispensary or maker.