A new means of extracting the potent THC from marijuana via butane is becoming increasingly popular and is the suspected cause of several house fires in Rhode Island communities.
A raid in Burrillville six months ago may have been the first in a new wave of drug busts featuring Butane Hash Oil, or BHO, which can be sold for much more than marijuana itself. The process involves butane gas liquefying the THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, from the plant which is then cooked and the butane is burned off. The remainder is purified THC which is then sold.
The problem for law enforcement which Detective Michael Arnold experienced, is that Rhode Island has no law specifically regarding BHO. The detective did note that “We have also periodically cited people for possession [of small amounts of BHO] on traffic stops,” further explaining that police were advised to use the existing state laws on marijuana possession and manufacturing. Two 29-year olds were arrested in a police department drug raid on 27 March.
Similar items are being confiscated in raids of suspected drug labs such as butane gas canisters, glass extraction tubes filled with marijuana, and cooking devices. These very implements were found in the ashes of a large conflagration which destroyed an 86,000 square foot building in Providence.
It’s the butane fumes which can be easily ignited that has injured many and caused numerous fires in BHO lab explosions in Colorado in 2014.
For the time being, the Attorney General of Rhode Island has indicated that manufacturing BHO will be charged as manufacturing of a controlled substance. Even the federal Drug Enforcement Administration has taken notice—back in 2011, the DEA was looking to add statutes regarding marijuana extracts like BHO.