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Simple Jack

Cannabis Boom: Why Brits Are Risking Death-By-Explosion to Get Stoned

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Cannabis Boom: Why Brits Are Risking Death-By-Explosion to Get Stoned
explosion-of-butane-hash-oil-uk-body-ima

The aftermath of a Butane Hash Oil explosion in a house in Birmingham

You probably associate drug lab explosions more with rural Missouri than suburban Newcastle. And that would make sense: historically, the majority of drug lab explosions have been tied to bad crystal meth chemists doing bad science, and Americans have always had a more voracious taste for meth than the British. But drug lab explosions are now on the rise in the UK, thanks to bad chemists trying to make something new out of the UK's favourite illegal drug.

Last month, the BBC reported on the increase of explosions caused by people trying to turn cannabis into "Butane Hash Oil" (BHO), which is essentially pure THC (the stuff in weed that gets you high) concentrated into little gold slabs (which some people call "shatter") that you smoke in a vaporiser. To make it, you have to use a large amount of butane – the stuff they put in lighters, i.e. an extremely flammable substance – which can pool and explode if ignited.

The BBC's investigation found that two people have been killed and 27 injured in the UK since 2014 as a direct result of this process. So it's clearly a dangerous, and complex to carry out – especially if you're doing it in your own home, as opposed to a heavily controlled lab environment. But one thing the report skimped over is exactly why people are taking these risks. Why flirt with a house fire when you can just buy a ten-bag?

"It's the most ideal form of cannabis for medical patients," said Alex Fraser over the phone, from his home in Brighton. Alex is Events Director at the United Patients Alliance, a group that campaigns and lobbies for medical cannabis in the UK. He treats his Crohn's disease with daily doses of cannabis oil.

"I just took a small dab now as I got home from work to deal with the cramps," he said. "Instead of sitting down, rolling a joint, smoking it and then potentially rolling another, I can just have a quick dab in a matter of seconds and deliver the right amount of THC for the pain relief."

explosion-of-butane-hash-oil-uk-body-ima

Some solidified Butane Hash Oil, or "shatter" (Photo courtesy of Smokey)

With much of the reporting on BHO, there's a focus on how dangerous it is to produce, rather than why so many people are choosing to produce it – which they appear to be, given the increase of these accidents. Alex said his detailed explanation on the medical uses did not make the final cut of the BBC report, which dubbed the concentrate "super-strength cannabis".

"I know lots of people myself who now make it – they provide for patients. It's a very dangerous thing to be doing, but people are doing it because there is a demand from medical users," Alex explained. "It is such a pure product, and therefore dosages of THC can be measured properly. And for someone who has a condition which needs a high amount of THC or CBD [another active chemical in cannabis] for treatment, smoking so much weed would not be a healthy way to ingest it."

The cannabis community has known about the medical uses for cannabis oil for a while, but it wasn't until recently that pharmaceutical companies starting taking note. Last month, GW Pharmaceuticals – the first company in the UK granted a license to cultivate cannabis and study its medical uses – carried out phase-three trials involving cannabis concentrates and epileptic children. The chief executive, Justin Gover, recently stated that their cannabis concentrate-based medicine Epidiolex "has the potential to provide a robust and clinically meaningful reduction in seizures", according to the latest results from the trials.

As GW continues to conduct new trials with cannabis concentrate-based medicine, and people continue to make the product at home, it's clear cannabis concentrates aren't going anywhere.

I met up with "Smokey", one of many people around the UK producing high quality branded concentrates. He is what is commonly referred to as an "extract artist", and has been making BHO and cannabis concentrates since 2007. With his numerous international cannabis cups and awards, I figured Smokey was one of the best in the UK at what he did.

"I have loads of patients with a range of conditions, from MS to rheumatoid arthritis. There are so many compounds in cannabis that have medical benefits, from THC to CBD," he said. "Anybody who says cannabis is not a medicine is so misinformed. I have plenty of patients who can tell you first-hand how their lives have changed."

Smokey went on to tell me how there is a lot of cannabis oil being made in the UK, but not all of it holds up to a medical standard. "Someone like myself who does things properly will have over £20,000 worth of equipment," he said, adding that he's got experience making concentrates in less illegal settings, after being flown out to labs in Spain and the US. "At the end of the day, it's a dangerous thing to do. You could be a mechanic, you could be an electrician – you just got to know what you're doing," he said. "The problem is: you got so many people thinking they are going to do extractions without much knowledge, when, really, it comes down to being a scientist."

Smokey blames the recent explosions on the individuals as opposed to the process: "The problem these days is everybody thinks they're an extractor. In the hands of someone unexperienced, it is literally a ticking time-bomb." He's seen the process gone wrong before, and heard plenty of horror stories that didn't reach the 9 o'clock news. "I know someone who had a serious accident doing this, and not only are his face, arms and legs burnt; he is psychologically scarred and can't even be in a room with people smoking. It's ruined his life."

Smokey studied Mechanical Engineering at university. He's an educated young man who didn't necessarily need to dedicate his life to making cannabis concentrates, but decided to do so partly out of his passion for fighting current legislation and making the medicine available to more people. "I think it's important to fight the unjust laws through education," he said. "I think we're on the path to legal cannabis; just a week ago the NHS began testing CBD concentrates in vaporisers for the first time."

Beyond the medical demand, Smokey says there is another obivous reason why BHO has become so widespread: profit. "Material that used to be chucked away is now literally being turned into gold," he said, referring to the parts of the cannabis plant – such as leaves and stems – that historically were destined for the bin, but now, with BHO technology, can be stripped down for every cannabinoid compound they contain. The "gold" he refers to is what the final product should look like: a solid golden shard that can go for around £50 to £60 a gram.

A member of the London Cannabis Club told me how he sees a big future market for cannabis concentrates like BHO, as they are so versatile and can be placed in any product from a vape pen to food. "Whether for the recreational or medical market, these concentrates allow for more measured and consistent cannabis products," he said. "More importantly, it also means none of the plant is wasted."

The world of BHO and cannabis concentrates is clearly one that will continue to expand in the UK and internationally, regardless of the law. However, where there is a legally regulated industry in the US, you don't often hear about problems with BHO production. Just like any other dangerous process, leaving it in the hands of untrained people looking for a quick profit is likely to result in big problems.

Something needs improving? We're all ears.

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It is prohibition that caused this, I think the rosin technique would have been discovered years ago before loads of people started blowing stuff up.

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I dunno see, I got a sneaky feeling in my bones they are preparing the way for big pharma to be licensed to grow etc and make concentrates for medics but will keep the prohibition...I smell something in the air and it'll be :soap:: we get from the 'lords and masters' :yes:

Edited by botanics
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Maybe a private health care facility will be given a licence to sell the "'medicine', nd we will have to sign up for bupa insurance in order to access the 'pharmacy'. I will probably be one our MPs already have invested interests in.

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The BBC's investigation found that two people have been killed and 27 injured in the UK since 2014 as a direct result of this process. So it's clearly a dangerous, and complex to carry out –

Not as dangerous as frying chips when you are pissed then?

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All these things are natural selection in realtime, mother nature weeding out stupidity from the genepool, just another 20,000 years to go

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All these things are natural selection in realtime, mother nature weeding out stupidity from the genepool, just another 20,000 years to go

What a great shame the half wit journalist wasn't weeded out before he decided to write a pile of shite presenting BHO and RSO as the same thing.

Ignorant cunt,may you die with a pen thrust through each ear drum and keyboard in your rectum before you too manage to piss in the gene pool as your parents did before you.

Probably time for a smoke,or a prefrontal lobotomy :bag:

Gumbo.

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@@Gumbo

Fuckin ell bud, you don't take any prisoners eh ;)

This is preparing the way, this is the propaganda in full swing here and this is the angle it looks like the British establishment will follow because they are certainly looking at the monetisation and commercial opportunity from what's happening in other parts of the world for sure....they want to sew it up so the big boys can earn whilst the man at the bottom still has to feed off the establishment tit :yep:

Oh I fucking hope corbyn wins his leadership battle aye, because we are in for some shit times ahead and stormy waters, we need this 'voice' to continue

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@@Gumbo

Fuckin ell bud, you don't take any prisoners eh ;)

Yeah,sorry,grumpy head on earlier ,but if the journalists can't even get a grasp of the basic terminology what hope do the public have of understanding the issues?

Re-read it,he's clearly confused as to what BHO and RSO are which in my mind translates to shit journalism.

:schmoll:

Gumbo.

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@@botanics totally agree mate. If Smith wins it he's gonna go down the Tory-Lite route just like Bliar did. Plus his pharma background makes me suspicious. He prob still has mates working in that industry who'd be onto him for "access for cash" just like the Tory scum.

Maybe I'm just being cynical but he seems like that type to me.

If all the Labour Party MP's got behind Corbyn instead of trying to get rid he would stand a chance of moving forward with his style of politics. If the MP's don't back him how the hell do they think the general population are going to?

Cheers,

Col.

P.S. Feel a bit sorry for the Welsh having that twat Neil Hamilton in their midst :shock:

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Yeah,sorry,grumpy head on earlier ,but if the journalists can't even get a grasp of the basic terminology what hope do the public have of understanding the issues?

Re-read it,he's clearly confused as to what BHO and RSO are which in my mind translates to shit journalism.

:schmoll:

Gumbo.

To be fair this isn't too bad in terms of terminology it's better than 99% of the "journalism" that gets posted in here this guy seems to have done at least some research and actually sought out subject matter experts rather than just printing the bollocks the police say.

Sure it could be better but there is far worse than this out there.

@@botanics I have to agree mate it certainly looks like they are angling for big pharma

That would be the worst of all possible outcomes in terms of meaningful change but still it would be better than the current situation at least the most needy would have access to vital medicine

my old man wouldn't stand a chance trying to grow his own it's only my "fuck the system" attitude that got him sorted without the individuals that risk it all for others the people in greatest need would be screwed

Hate the idea of big pharma having exclusive rights but it's better than what we have at the moment for those that maintain a fuck the system attitude nothing changes but for a few this would be life changing

That being said it's a fucking plant that will grow almost anywhere what justification they have for its legal status is beyond me

I for one will always fight for complete unrestricted legalisation but every journey starts with a single step

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:shock: Fucking LMAO. That picture is awesome lol. Butane did THAT? I can't even read the rest I'm laughing so hard.

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@@Gumbo Ignorant cunt,may you die with a pen thrust through each ear drum and keyboard in your rectum before you too manage to piss in the gene pool as your parents did before you.

Pure poetry ...lol

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Yeah,sorry,grumpy head on earlier ,but if the journalists can't even get a grasp of the basic terminology what hope do the public have of understanding the issues?

Re-read it,he's clearly confused as to what BHO and RSO are which in my mind translates to shit journalism.

:schmoll:

Gumbo.

Don't be sorry mate, hold it, remember it and use it when the battle comes :pitchfork: Just remind me not to piss you off lol

@@botanics totally agree mate. If Smith wins it he's gonna go down the Tory-Lite route just like Bliar did. Plus his pharma background makes me suspicious. He prob still has mates working in that industry who'd be onto him for "access for cash" just like the Tory scum.

Maybe I'm just being cynical but he seems like that type to me.

If all the Labour Party MP's got behind Corbyn instead of trying to get rid he would stand a chance of moving forward with his style of politics. If the MP's don't back him how the hell do they think the general population are going to?

Cheers,

Col.

P.S. Feel a bit sorry for the Welsh having that twat Neil Hamilton in their midst :shock:

Oh Smith's a bell end mate, he got no chance ;) But that Hamilton clown :headpain: thought he'd gone all celebrity after the shit he was mixed up in 20 year ago...can't stand the snivelling, slimy cunt or his 'boss' either :yep: (the wife - you seen her, fookin ell bud, life of pain that lol)

@@NezA

I have to disagree mate I'm afraid, yes the medical aspect must be followed of course but how much are these big pharma going to charge after their 'research costs' into finding the 'new medicine' and then the question is, will peeps be able to access it (the ones without any money that is ;) ) division on principle and creating that wedge is exactly what this article is about and you're walking into it mate...you must stand for what you believe, no quarter mate :yep:

Edited by botanics
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