Hash oil lab explosions on rise in Colorado neighborhoods; home manufacturing totally legal

DENVER - Police in Colorado say there is little they can do about an increase in the number of accidental explosions caused by people trying to turn recreational marijuana into hash oil.

In Colorado, with the passage of Amendment 64, manufacturing hash oil is totally legal.

However, the process is not always safe. Hash oil, or honey oil as it's often referred to, can blow up in your face.

It happened in Longmont this past December and in Aurora in January.

"There's probably been 20 [hash oil explosions] in the state in the last year or two," said Commander Jerry Peters with the North Metro Drug Task Force.

He said the allure of extracting hash from marijuana plants is typically the high.

"It can be about 70 to 90 percent pure marijuana, or THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana," said Peters.

Peters said the problem with enforcing the law is that if the oil is produced on someone's property and nobody else is in danger, it is not a crime.

Explosions often result in no criminal charges, despite any injuries involved.

That was the case in January, when hash oil being produced in a Thornton home ignited, killing a dog and leaving the homeowner with severe burns.

"If you are in your own house and you blow up your own house, and you put no one else in danger, it's legal," said Peters.

Hash is extracted from the leafy part of the marijuana plant, mashed in with a gas such as butane, and then put through a strainer. The gas is then burned or frozen off. But that's when things can go awry.

"These kinds of fires -- it's just mind-boggling on how dangerous this is to our community and yet, we've allowed it," said Peters.

If you are manufacturing hash in your home and there is someone else living there, you can be charged with endangering others.

Officials with the North Metro Drug Task Force said Colorado is in uncharted territory in terms of how to regulate or even monitor the issue.

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