Two people were injured in St. Petersburg last night when a batch of hashish oil they were making exploded. The blast was powerful enough to blow out an exterior wall and cause heavy damage to an interior wall, police said.
No arrests had been made as of Monday night, but criminal charges are possible. For those scratching their heads at the news, yes, making hash oil can indeed be as dangerous for the cooks as a Breaking Bad meth-making session.
Hashish oil, for the uninitiated, is a potent marijuana byproduct. It's made from marijuana stems and leaves that often are thrown out because of their poor quality. The weed odds-and-ends are packed into a pipe, and butane is poured through it. A heat source is used to separate the butane, and the result is hashish oil.
The oil has become popular because a drop or two can have the same effects as a full joint. With increased potency comes increased prices -- about $50 a gram, according to police.
You don't have to be a member of the DEA to figure out increased demand for an expensive product results in growing numbers of hashish labs popping up all over the country, like the one that blew up in St. Petersburg last night.
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"There is a wide profit margin to be made with these labs," Patrick Kelly, a special agent with the DEA in San Diego, recently told a Denver CBS affiliate. "They are becoming more prevalent now than ever."
It also doesn't take a genius chemist to see that playing around with a bunch of butane and heat sources can be tricky business.
"As long as they are using flammable liquids, we're going to have explosions," Los Angeles Police detective Frank Lyga told the Denver Post after a series of disasters in West Coast labs. "It's only a matter of time before something goes wrong and they blow off their hands or something even worse."