The “chef” watched over a batch of hash oil he was making in a kitchen using a common but dangerous method known as “open blasting,” says the Los Angeles Times. The 26-year-old meticulously stirred and heated the marijuana extract into the highest clarity, producing “butane honey oil” that would be as clear and pure as amber. This potent type of hash, called “wax,” has taken off in the marijuana market with the rise of electronic cigarettes and other vaporizing devices. Dabs of it can be vaporized and inhaled without the smoke and pungent odor of weed, an act called “dabbing.” They cause soaring highs even among longtime cannabis smokers who have a strong tolerance for the drug.
The problem is that the butane used to extract the essential oil of the marijuana plant often blows up in the faces of the people making the wax. In the last 14 months, at least 17 cooks and bystanders have landed in Southern California burn centers with catastrophic injuries, a toll far worse than from meth lab explosions. In Northern California, the UC Davis Health System’s burn unit treated 27 victims last year; six have come in during the last two weeks. Officials suspect that the real numbers are much higher because victims don’t disclose the illicit cause of their injuries. The explosions are a growing side effect of California’s unregulated medical marijuana industry. The act of manufacturing butane hash is a criminal offense, but pot supply stores can legally sell the butane canisters, dispensaries can sell the hash and anyone with a doctor’s recommendation can buy marijuana and “vape” it.