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Butane Hash Oil: The Future of Pot

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BudderKing spread his technique on cannabis message boards and in High Times. Cultivators in California, Washington, and Colorado — states where voters legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996, 1998, and 2000, respectively — began making Budder to sell to dispensaries.

Daniel de Sailles, a supermellow dude with a bald dome and a scruffy ginger goatee who co-owns Top Shelf Extracts, a Colorado firm specializing in marijuana concentrates, says he first tried Budder in 2008. A customer gave him a small amount to sample while he was working for a dispensary in his hometown of Los Angeles. "I had never seen anything like it," he says. "It was golden and looked like wax." He loved it instantly. "I was impressed," de Sailles says, "not just with its potency, but also by how clean and tasty it was."

De Sailles soon began searching for other hash oil makers. He wanted to sell it at two dispensaries he managed. "They ended up teaching me how to make it myself," he says. A year later, he moved to Denver and began working as a consultant for a dispensary called Broadway Wellness. That place sold an average of $120,000 worth of wax a week, he says. "I came out to Colorado, started making hash oil for them, and it just really took off," he says. "Back then it was crazy. The wholesale price for a gram of Budder was $30 to $40."

One of the first Coloradans to sample de Sailles' wax was Ry Prichard, a Denver-based cannabis reviewer. "Dan came out here and brought the extract culture," Prichard says. "It took a while to get a foothold." He began seeing more people doing BHO in 2012 during the second High Times Medical Cannabis Cup in Colorado. "To me, concentrates are the future of cannabis," he says. "When I consume a clean concentrate, there is no plant matter, no carcinogens, and no smell."

Although Colorado voters approved medical marijuana in 2000, the legislature didn't legalize hash oil production until last year. That was around the time marijuana advocates in the state were pushing a ballot measure to legalize pot for recreational use. It passed by an overwhelming majority last November, allowing Colorado to join Washington as states where pot is completely legal.

Hash oil has quickly taken over Colorado's serious weed culture, Prichard asserts. "Just today I saw five articles on Facebook proclaiming, 'Is this the new crack?'"

The state has 772 dispensaries and places that manufacture edibles and oil, according to the Department of Revenue. Last year, Colorado's marijuana industry generated $219 million, about $6 million of which was paid in tax. Approximately one-third of the revenue comes from the sale of marijuana concentrates.

"You are starting to see more hash oil manufacturers pop up since they can now make it in a reasonably safe manner," Prichard explains. "The process has become much more industrialized, and the financial windfall is great for those who know the keys to extraction."

High Times' Black points out no one submitted hash oil samples for a hash competition during the magazine's inaugural Medical Cannabis Cup in Colorado five years ago. "Now we got almost 40 submissions," he says. "For our December issue, I'm doing a big feature about a behind-the-scenes tour of Denver's two biggest BHO makers."

In July, de Sailles helped organize the state's first festival celebrating dabs. "It was called the 710 Festival," he says. "When you turn '710' upside down, it spells 'oil.' We had 600 people come out and had to turn others away because we were at capacity."

Rappers, pop culture's authoritative voices on all things ganja, have embraced wax. During an April 23 appearance on Sirius XM radio station Shade 45, Wiz Khalifa briefed listeners on BHO. "It has been around for a minute," he explained. "People are now just getting their hands on it because they know how to make it right. It is just really more potent as far as the THC. It's no leaves, none of that shit."

In early August, B-Real of Cypress Hill posted a short video on YouTube showing a step-by-step process of doing dabs with an oil rig, titled "How to Dab With Dr. Greenthumb." The same month, Juicy J dropped his single "Wax," in which he raps about "blowin' hash, two, three hits put you on your ass" and how "that wax got me turnt up, that shit just the THC."

For some reason, BHO users have become enamored with buying elaborate, visually stunning pipes that retail for thousands of dollars. For instance, Spider, a $20,000 work by Oregon-based artists Ryan Harris and Darby Holm, looks like a sculpture hanging from a glass web. With the flick of a switch, Spider descends a rope to reveal a sophisticated pipe with a water bowl in the arachnid's abdomen and a mouthpiece on its back end. A three-foot pipe shaped like a machine gun recently sold for $9,000.

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.