DENVER (CBS4) – One Colorado legislator said the state needs to clarify whether residents can manufacture hash oil in home laboratories, something the state’s attorney general said is illegal.
Hash oil is extracted from leftover marijuana leaves and stems through a highly dangerous process involving butane. It has caused about three dozen explosions in Denver and Colorado, some resulting in injury and heavily damaged property.
Some defendants accused of triggering the explosions contend the process is covered by Amendment 64, which voters approved in 2012 to legalize recreational marijuana. But several politicians, notably Attorney General John Suthers, said the law wasn’t meant to include dangerous activity.
Representative Mike Foote says it may be time the state legislature weighed in.
“There’s a lot people that have an opinion on it, a lot discussions and a lot questions that are coming up, which why we’re trying to take our time to work through this to make sure that voices are heard and that if we are able to come up with something that it’s going to be a good bill,” Foote said.
On Dec. 30, Suthers issued a statement that said the homemade hash oil process constitutes “dangerous and unreasonable behavior.”
He also filed a court brief in response to a Mesa County man’s argument that prosecutors can’t charge him for making hash oil and causing an explosion that injured him. Eugene Christenson faces arson counts.
Jim Gerhart with the Colorado Drug Investigators Association says law enforcement has been largely powerless to address hash oil extraction until it’s too late.
“If we don’t do something about this, I think the problem is going to continue to escalate,” Gerhart said. “There’s a lot of confusion about the way Amendment 64 was written and what does it actually protect.”
Amendment 64 legalizes processing of all parts of the marijuana plant, but state law prohibits processing of concentrates like hash oil.
A case similar to the Mesa County issue is pending in Denver County.
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