People are blowing themselves up all over legal states like Colorado, and America at large, trying to extract hash oil from marijuana. It’s unnecessarily dangerous and giving legal cannabiss a bad rap.

The stuff goes by many names: wax, sugar, honeycomb, butter, shatter, hash, oil, 710, womper bomper — they’re all the same thing, though. Hashish, or concentrated THC. It’s a high-potency cannabis extract that, when smoked (or vaped), gets you like, really high, man.

But that’s not the problem — people’s brains aren’t exploding when they rip their dab rigs (even though it might feel like it). The problem erupts when people try to make hash on their own, at home, Heisenberg style.

Because, the process by which one extracts hash from cannabis is somewhat scientific, highly volatile and therefore very dangerous. A solvent — usually butane — is run through a tube full of marijuana clippings to strip the THC from the plant. What’s left is an oily substance that then needs to be reduced over heat to create that earwaxy goodness everyone knows and loves.

Thing is, butane is an extremely reactive gas. One that ignites in the presence of an open flame. And, typically, the geniuses extracting hash oil in their kitchen are also ripping a fat blunt while they’re in the middle of pumping butane through the tube and into the room. The butane reacts to the flame and Kablamo!

Okay, maybe it isn’t always because they’re smoking a blunt, maybe they were cooking ramen noodles on a gas stove, or had candles or incense lit, whatever. The point is: DIY concentrate THC is a dangerous thing to try and do. And unless you have serious experience doing it, and/or take precautions every step of the way to ensure your process is hazard-free, you should probably just buy your hash at the store like a normal person.

Currently, though, there is no law in Colorado against making your own concentrate. Currently. Governor John Hickenlooper is working on changing that, after incidents of hash explosions have skyrocketed across the state in recent years. And the Beaurau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has also pressured lawmakers to consider the ramifications of continuing to allow hash extraction legally. As always, it seems the government is looking for ways to crack down on cannabis — exploding hash labs make for an easy target.

Kevin Wong, an analyst for the White House’s Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force, described how these hash oil explosions don’t just disrupt the home within which they happen, but the community surrounding them as well.

“There are instances where this has happened in single-family residences — detached homes,” Wong told USA Today. “These have happened in shared-wall condos or townhomes. These have happened in apartment complexes, in hotels, motels. These have even happened in moving vehicles.”

These explosions can be powerful enough to blow a house straight off its foundation. Inside of an apartment building or a moving car an explosion like that isn’t just a neighborly annoyance, it’s a civil menace, a public safety hazard.

Now don’t take this the wrong way, hash oil is, undoubtedly, a wonderful thing. That potent, honey-like goodness is tasty, hits you faster, harder and gets you higher in a hurry. But this predicament is affecting more than just the people involved with the explosions.

Obviously it’s a bummer because it is costing people their lives (in a very violent way, no less). However, it’s also feeding fuel to the anti-cannabis propaganda machine. Pot doesn’t kill people. That’s one of the biggest arguments for its federal legalization. It is a safe drug. But when teenagers and twenty-somethings are blasting themselves to smithereens trying to make a more potent version of it, people who are unfamiliar with cannabis tend to raise their eyebrows in suspicion.

It’s just an unnecessary blemish upon an otherwise harmless substance, that seems to be approaching the verge of federal legalization. Unnecessary for a lot of reasons, but mainly, because hash oil extraction can be done without any flammable materials whatsoever. You can make it with just water, ice, buckets and “bubble bags” — no butane or open flames necessary.

What comes of this rash of hash explosions, remains to be seen. It is having some effect on government officials, but they haven’t passed any policies yet to address it. But if this keeps up, if deaths and injuries from hash lab explosions continue to rise, legislation controlling home-making the stuff is all but inevitable.

[cover photo eu1 via Pixabay]