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Butane Hash Oil: The Future of Pot

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Colorado hasn't experienced the volume of BHO explosions reported in other states because the practice is licensed like any other business. "We have to file manifests with the government, telling them how much trim we are receiving and how much is being processed into oil," de Sailles of Top Shelf Extracts says. "Everything is regulated here, which is why you don't have garages exploding out here."


When Lake Worth state Sen. Jeff Clemens and Plantation state Rep. Katie Edwards head back to Tallahassee in February for the 2014 legislative session, the duo plans to reignite a push to make Florida the 21st state to approve medical marijuana. Clemens and Edwards introduced the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act earlier this year, but it failed to even get a committee hearing. The measure is named for Jordan, a Melbourne resident who has been using marijuana to alleviate the debilitating symptoms of Lou Gehrig's disease for a quarter-century.

The Palm Beach and Broward legislators are undeterred. "We knew the bill was a long shot," Edwards says. "We recognized, however, that public sentiment about medicinal cannabis has changed dramatically."

Indeed, butane hash oil is gaining popularity at a time when Americans' opposition to marijuana has softened. In May, a Fox News poll found nine of ten registered voters believe marijuana should be legal if prescribed by a physician.

In the past five months, New Hampshire and Illinois have legalized medical marijuana, joining 18 other states and Washington, D.C.

In Florida, the advocacy group People United for Medical Marijuana recently released a poll that shows seven in ten Florida voters support a constitutional amendment legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes. The poll, conducted by Hamilton Campaigns, a firm used by Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, surveyed 600 registered voters between January 30 and February 3. An eye-popping 81 percent of respondents said doctors should be able to recommend marijuana to patients without fear of arrest or loss of license. Only 14 percent were opposed. Asked if marijuana should be regulated and taxed like alcohol and cigarettes, 68 percent said yes and 27 percent opposed the idea.

A grassroots effort to place medical marijuana on the 2014 ballot has built momentum thanks to the involvement of Tampa-area attorney John Morgan, a major fundraiser for President Barack Obama who is pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the petition drive. So far, he's provided about $150,000 of the $216,000 raised.

As the legalization debate grows, pot advocates need to address BHO. Florida doesn't want to be like California, where it's illegal to produce but dispensaries sell it all day. The Sunshine State should look to Colorado.

"Colorado is leaps and bounds ahead of any state — really the world," says Prichard, the Denver-based cannabis reviewer. "We've had only a few incidents with BHO explosions because people can go to a dispensary and buy hash oil at a reasonable price."

Until BHO is legalized in Florida, Prichard cautions users about producing it. "They are making it in an unsafe, unregulated environment," he says. "They are risking their lives and their property not knowing what the hell they are doing."

Jacob Katel and Jess Swanson contributed to this article.

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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.