Mar 3, 2014 7:59 PM by Tony Spehar
An explosion at a Colorado Springs apartment complex believed to have been caused by someone making hash oil from marijuana using butane highlights the potential dangers from amateurs attempting to make the oil themselves.
The explosion happened in a third-floor room at the Westview Apartments on the 300-block of University Drive just before 10 p.m. on Saturday night. Lee Brown, 51, was arrested for allegedly causing the blast while attempting to make hash oil by soaking marijuana in butane.
"Part of the window frame was like, almost like torn off," described resident Tera Woodhull. "It was like a big boom that happened so everything shot outward."
This isn't the first case of a butane hash oil explosion in Colorado Springs. In December a man was badly burned in a similar incident to Saturday's explosion. Last July a man and woman were injured in a blast while making hash oil with butane.
"The butane is so volatile and so highly flammable that any temperature change whatsoever could ignite that," explained Agent Matt Barden with the Drug Enforcement Agency office in Colorado Springs.
Barden said hash oil explosions have become more and more common across the state since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. He said it's dangerous and troubling, some marijuana advocates actually agree with him.
"They're taking butane and using it as a solvent to extract the cannabinoids out," environmental scientist Brent Duncan explained. "The way I see it this is exactly why we need to take an approach like Colorado is taking where these people need to be licensed and this needs to be enforced."
Duncan works in Texas but is pursuing opening a marijuana quality testing lab in Colorado. He said the potential for explosions is only one concern with amateurs making hash oil with butane, unhealthy chemicals could easily be left in the finished product.
Though Barden and Duncan agree that it's very dangerous for amateurs to make hash oil with butane, they disagreed about the danger of hash oil itself.
"Dangerous in and of itself, when you can have something that is two and three and four times as potent as what the marijuana is now," Agent Barden said.
Duncan said that while the highly potent oil could be abused, it isn't dangerous.
"I don't see THC or cannabinoids having the potential of something like nicotine where when you concentrate it it becomes a poison or alcohol where you concentrate it and it becomes a poison," he explained.