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BHO fire season sweeps through California

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California is entering what might best be described as “butane hash oil fire season” — that time of year when amateur pot chemists blow themselves up while attempting to refine marijuana waste from the fall harvest.

Firefighters responded to the latest explosion and fire Friday in a Commerce, CA. home, where one suspect suffered burns and other injuries while trying to use the flammable solvent butane to extract and concentrate the active ingredients in cannabis.

One butane hash lab per week pops up on L.A. County law enforcement’s radar, reports state.

Potent, Profitable, Perilous

Butane hash oil (BHO, wax, shatter, dabs) can be four times as strong as marijuana flower buds, and can sell for upwards of $80 per gram. Marijuana waste otherwise destined for composting often serves as source material for butane extraction, enticing wannabe chemists to turn trash into cash.

Extracts are surging in popularity among patients due to their potency, and multiplicity of applications, industry experts say. Concentrating cannabis with flammable solvents is illegal in California, but the resulting extract is legal to possess. Twenty years after Californians legalized medical marijuana, state officials are just now moving to regulate, inspect, and license commercial medical cannabis extraction facilities. Legal hash labs in Colorado require certification by local fire officials.

Start A Fire, Lose Your Kids

Last week, two Merced County residents set themselves aflame in their garage making butane hash with four children, ages 3 to 13, in the home. The kids weren’t injured, and were taken into protective custody, reports state.

Also last week, a Butte County judge sentenced resident Brandon Qassem to more than 10 years in state prison for a BHO explosion “so violent it knocked the house off its foundation and nearly killed Qassem’s two young nephews, ages 13 and 15, who were inside the structure when it exploded.” Butte County law enforcement discovered 56 BHO labs in 2015, according to reports.

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