Xavier Renner died from the butane hash oil fire that rocked Humboldt County the day after California’s vote to legalize. That explosion happened in a Rio Dell garage on November 9, 2016. His friends, Aaron Mohr and Aaron Schisler, also had burns on 60 to 90 percent of their bodies. The landlords and friends working with him have been charged with murder, although Renner made the choice to experiment with making BHO, The charges against the landlords who own the detached garage are extreme.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
People who smoke pot may envy the power of the marijuana growers in the Emerald Triangle. Marijuana controls the economy in Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino Counties of Northern California. Shasta County also has a huge marijuana industry, often hidden in its dense forests. Sometimes the police forces and local governments buy into the trade. But for residents who don’t use pot or drink or use other drugs, the growers and dealers are a major threat to safety and security.
The state legislature is afraid to put teeth in any legislation to control the marijuana growers, and right now the Federal Government is providing no funds to go after medical marijuana providers, although so many of these providers cross the line into drug dealing (most of the medical marijuana industry in California).
In addition to hash oil explosions, there are many home invasions such as the one that happened on the night of February 28, 2016 in Weitchpec. Welcome to the world of marijuana.
“Victims told deputies at about 9:30 p.m. three males, one armed with a pistol and two with shotguns, entered their residence. The suspects were wearing jackets with Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office emblems. The suspects tied up the victims with zip ties and the suspects demanded marijuana, cash, and guns. The three suspects stole cash and a 2014 white Toyota Tundra pick-up truck prior to leaving the scene.”
“There were 1,298 violent crimes in the Redding metro area in 2012, up from 851 violent crimes in 2007. On a standardized, per 100,000 resident basis, violent crime rose more than 53% in that time. Additionally, property crimes rose by more than 50%, the most of any metro area reviewed, despite a nationwide 12.7% decline in such crimes during that time. According to the Redding Record Searchlight, some area residents believe that the area’s high crime rates may be related to marijuana cultivation. Officials in Shasta County — which makes up the Redding metro area — recently elected to ban outdoor growing, although the city of Redding is not included in the ban.”
The Emerald Triangle provides insight into what will happen if the marijuana groups get to control of California and the rest of the United States and Canada.