Cortes and Belize, who have been criminally charged with manufacturing hash oil, could not be located for comment. Their catastrophic attempt was the first documented BHO explosion in Florida.

The incident highlights a problem that's spreading across the country. As BHO use has increased in the United States, so has the number of reckless manufacturers. Since January, at least a dozen explosions have been reported in California, Michigan, Oregon, and Oklahoma. In February, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued an alert about the dangers of BHO. "Butane is highly explosive, colorless, odorless, and heavier than air and therefore can travel along the floor until it encounters an ignition source," the warning declared. "Initial explosions can lead to secondary explosions and fires. In states with legalized use and availability of medical marijuana, these incidents appear to be increasing."

Amy Roderick, a spokesperson for the San Diego office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, says there have been six BHO explosions in the city since November 2012. One of the worst cases occurred this past January 30, when a 22-year-old lit a cigarette in a guest room at the Heritage Inn Sea World, where he was allegedly extracting hash oil. According to one witness, the building shook violently and then there was a loud explosion. The BHO cook was transported to a nearby hospital in critical condition. Two other people in the room were also injured.

Jacob Katel

Roderick says the second-floor hotel room resembled a war zone. "The damage was pretty bad," she recounts. "The kitchen looked like someone threw a grenade in there."

The suspect survived and has been charged with manufacturing hash. Even though medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, the state's medical cannabis laws do not allow the manufacturing of hash oil. "It's considered much like a meth lab," Roderick says, "because they are using chemicals."

Frank Lyga, a Los Angeles Police Department detective, encountered his first BHO operation five years ago. "I went to a location where I found bags of cultivated marijuana that had been ground up," he says. "There were 1,000 butane cans in the backyard. The house was being used to manufacture honey oil."

Since then, Lyga has investigated 40 BHO labs, including 11 that have exploded. In one incident, a man was blasting inside the lavatory of a motel room. "The individual was using just one can of butane," Lyga says. "The door flew about 85 feet, and the windows blew out. He suffered severe burns on his face, hands, arms, and chest."

In another recent case, three people making hash oil became engulfed in flames from a spark. "Two have recovered and gone to rehab for burns on 90 percent of their bodies," Lyga says. "The third person is still in an induced coma."

In San Diego, DEA agents find BHO labs at 75 percent of the grow operations the agency shuts down."This is the new drug trend," Roderick says. "If someone is growing marijuana indoors or outdoors, we are finding they are also extracting hash oil."

Some people are just stupid, she adds. "In the Sea World case, you had a guy sitting in there extracting for four, five hours," Roderick says. "He had about 12 cases of butane in there. He told everyone at the scene he lit a cigarette."

Colorado hasn't experienced the volume of BHO explosions reported in other states because the practice is licensed like any other business. "We have to file manifests with the government, telling them how much trim we are receiving and how much is being processed into oil," de Sailles of Top Shelf Extracts says. "Everything is regulated here, which is why you don't have garages exploding out here."

When Lake Worth state Sen. Jeff Clemens and Plantation state Rep. Katie Edwards head back to Tallahassee in February for the 2014 legislative session, the duo plans to reignite a push to make Florida the 21st state to approve medical marijuana. Clemens and Edwards introduced the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act earlier this year, but it failed to even get a committee hearing. The measure is named for Jordan, a Melbourne resident who has been using marijuana to alleviate the debilitating symptoms of Lou Gehrig's disease for a quarter-century.

The Palm Beach and Broward legislators are undeterred. "We knew the bill was a long shot," Edwards says. "We recognized, however, that public sentiment about medicinal cannabis has changed dramatically."

Indeed, butane hash oil is gaining popularity at a time when Americans' opposition to marijuana has softened. In May, a Fox News poll found nine of ten registered voters believe marijuana should be legal if prescribed by a physician.

In the past five months, New Hampshire and Illinois have legalized medical marijuana, joining 18 other states and Washington, D.C.

In Florida, the advocacy group People United for Medical Marijuana recently released a poll that shows seven in ten Florida voters support a constitutional amendment legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes. The poll, conducted by Hamilton Campaigns, a firm used by Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, surveyed 600 registered voters between January 30 and February 3. An eye-popping 81 percent of respondents said doctors should be able to recommend marijuana to patients without fear of arrest or loss of license. Only 14 percent were opposed. Asked if marijuana should be regulated and taxed like alcohol and cigarettes, 68 percent said yes and 27 percent opposed the idea.

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I'm a dead soldier now that I've got COPD, but I've smoked pure Shiva Crystals that wouldn't do what this lightweight says one hit of that stuff did to him. I smoked grams and grams at a time and never did my hands tingle or did I mutter unintelligible sentences. Ate a lot of Super Golden Crisp though. Try to keep it real when describing your highs will ya', you'll scare the children. 


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