The presence of hash-oil laboratories in neighborhoods throughout Santa Cruz County is a growing and very dangerous problem. What seems like a simple manufacturing process can quickly become deadly due to the extreme flammability of butane. Butane Hash Oil (BHO) labs pose a significant and serious danger to neighbors, their homes and pets and pose a significant risk to our emergency responders.
Easy to make, hard to control
A lucrative market is helping to drive hash-oil production, while the easy availability of online videos and widely available and inexpensive supplies is compounding the number of tragic fires according to law enforcement and medical professionals.
Butane hash oil, also called BHO or honey oil, a highly concentrated form of cannabis, is illegal to manufacture, but is legal to sell under California’s medical marijuana law, meaning dispensaries must get their supply from illicit operations, according to law enforcement officials. The substance is sold in different forms to smoke and also used to make cookies and candies.
Hash oil’s concentration of THC, the active substance in marijuana, can reach 85 percent compared with a marijuana bud’s typical concentration of about 25 percent according to leading experts on butane hash-oil fires.
Hash oil, made from discarded marijuana trimmings, sells for $800 to $1,300 per pound wholesale and can have a retail street value of $22,000 per pound, he said.
The dangers of butane hash oil are real, almost any ignition source can turn the butane into an explosive inferno
The key ingredient is compressed butane, which comes in canisters about the size of a 16-ounce beer can that drug-makers can easily purchase in bulk.
The biggest danger comes from the vaporized butane – invisible, odorless and heavier than air – that sinks to the floor and collects in enclosed spaces.
The hash oil makers are literally standing in a cloud of clear, odorless butane, with the substance absorbing into their clothing.
Almost any ignition source, from a spark of static electricity to a water heater’s pilot light, can turn the butane into an explosive inferno.