Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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May 6, 2014

Hash oil explosions rise with legalized marijuana

(Continued)

The data represents only reported and confirmed cases, and the actual number of explosions could be higher, said Kevin Wong, an intelligence analyst for the agency. "This is just the tip of the iceberg," Wong said.

The organization has started training police and firefighters on how to spot the signs of a hash oil explosion. After the Thornton blast, officers found a charred home littered with bottles of butane. They were perplexed, which highlighted the need for more training, Long said.

In recent years, there have been dozens of explosions and injuries in other states where residents can get access to the plant through medical marijuana systems, including California, Washington state and Oregon.

In Washington state, where home pot growing isn't allowed, officials were so concerned about the dangers of producing marijuana extracts for sale in state-licensed shops that they require licensed producers to have an expensive ventilation system.

Colorado marijuana businesses are allowed to manufacture hash oil using butane, but with strict rules. Colorado's pot laws allow adults 21 and over to grow up to six plants at home and cooks often use their own plants to affordably make hash oil in their kitchens or garages.

As a result, explosions have happened primarily on private property.

There were at least five blasts in one week alone last month. In one case, two children had to be rescued from their burning suburban Denver townhome after their father and his girlfriend caused a blast while making the extract.

In that case, authorities charged the homeowner with arson and child abuse, a common punishment for home cooks whose recipes ended in disaster. Denver, where at least eight explosions have occurred, banned home hash oil production under a portion of the building code that prohibits "creating an unsafe environment."

Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said his office has pursued felony charges against people simply for cooking hash oil at home five to 10 times so far this year.

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