BHO Labs are a By-Product of Increased Access to the Drug
On November 9, 2016, in California, three men in Humboldt County celebrated their marijuana freedom by extracting BHO from marijuana. On the first day pot was 100% legal in California, their actions sparked a fire. Helicopters airlifted the injured men to UC Davis Hospital because their burns were so extensive.
A similar fire on January 14, 2017, totaled a home near Arcata in Humboldt County, injuring two people. It was the 4th fire in the county since legalization.
BHO or butane hash oil, which Californians call “honey oil” is a highly potent extract of the marijuana plant. Using highly flammable butane, amateurs extract the oil which can produce the strongest, most immediate high. Pot advocates claim that dangerous BHO fires are a by-product of “prohibition,” but they didn’t start happening until 2011, a good 15 years after so-called “medical” marijuana was legalized in 1996 by California. In 2009, medical marijuana dispensaries proliferated, and in 2010, the first BHO lab was discovered. By 2011, 8 illegal BHO labs were discovered, 3 of which exploded. In 2012, authorities uncovered 20 BHO labs, 16 of which had fires. In 2013, authorities found 68 BHO labs and 38 of them went up in flames. Nine people died from these BHO Labs in California that year.
In Washington, marijuana was legal — but not yet commercial – in 2013. A huge blast rocked an apartment complex in Bellevue. The BHO fire sparked huge flames and completely damaged two 12-unit apartment buildings. One hundred fire fighters and police spent 7 hours putting out the flames, in November, 2013. Neighbors jumped from the 2nd and 3rd floors. One elderly woman died from an injury sustained while fleeing from the fire.
The state did not take action, federal authorities needed to step in and establish that operating hash oil labs constituted reckless endangerment to human life. (Those responsible for the Bellevue fire and others convicted.) Today, both California and Colorado have laws making BHO manufacture in a residential setting a felony.
Worst Year for Fire and Death in 2014
In 2014, 32 people died in California from these explosions. In 2011, there were 5 explosions from butane extractions in California. The illegal practice grew until 2014, when 232 hash oil labs were discovered in California and 102 of them exploded. The state legislature then passed a law making the illegal manufacture of marijuana into hash oil a felony. If operating near a school or home with children, these crimes are now considered “aggravated felonies.”
BHO labs fired up Colorado in 2014, with 32 explosions that year. The marijuana advocates argued that Amendment 64 made home processing of BHO legal. Attorney General John Suthers disagreed, and the courts upheld that making BHO without a license is illegal. Yet, the explosions continue in Colorado.
People blow up cars, homes, apartments, and even hotels. Visitors to a motel near Sea World in San Diego were shocked to be forced out of their lodging because of an explosion in January, 2014.
In an explosion in Rancho Cordova, California in January 2014, 146 people in an apartment complex were displaced. In Walnut Creek, California, on Halloween, 2014, an entire 8-unit apartment building went up in flames and all residents were displaced. A fire in Redding, California that year also left multiple families homeless.
In 2015, there were at least five hash oil fires in Butte and Shasta Counties. Seven children and five adults were at home during one of these fires. In another huge fire in Redding in 2015, residents of 12 units were evacuated as a result of the massive explosion.
Click here to see KRCR TV coverage of a Shasta Apartment Fire
The Explosions Continue in Washington and Oregon
On October 18, a man running a hash oil lab in Bellingham suffered from severe burns. No one else was hurt, but the fire displaced four residents living in two units downstairs. It will take several months before the damages can be repaired.
On August 19, a man who caused a BHO fire in Spokane was so critically injured he was transported across the state to a Seattle hospital.
The fire near Seattle’s SeaTac airport last March 21st occurred in a house next door to a day care center. No children were there at the time, but it was a close call.
In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown signed a law in 2016 making unlicensed production of marijuana extracts a felony. The bill was intended to target homemade butane hash oil setups. However, the fires are still taking place.
A butane operation caused a trailer fire in December in Springfield. In October, a blast rocked a legal marijuana business in Astoria. Two people were sent two people to Legacy Oregon Burn Center. A BHO-related explosion destroyed a Medford home last August.
The next time someone says that Prohibition causes these explosions, please recognize that this is propaganda not truth.Stop Pot is a non-partisan grassroots campaign started by citizens concerned about the damaging health effects, both physical and mental, of marijuana. We are also concerned about the impact of marijuana on the environment.