Pubdate: Sun, 22 Feb 2015
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2015 The Washington Post Company
Author: Kimberly Hartke
Note: The writer is a Northern Virginia landlord and blogger.


Landlords, tenants and homeowners have an unexpected new worry: 
legalized marijuana. Already, marijuana use is an issue for D.C. 
landlords under decriminalization. One owner of 350 rentals in the 
city is about to add a no-smoking clause to his lease. He has always 
advertised his properties as non-smoking. But he is getting an 
increasing number of complaints from tenants in his buildings about 
the pungent odor from dope-smoking.

The latest trend in the marijuana subculture is the smoking of "dabs" 
of marijuana concentrate. This highly concentrated form of marijuana 
is expensive but growing in popularity for recreational use. And it's 
explosive - literally.

Because of the expense of buying marijuana concentrate at a 
dispensary or pot shop, marijuana users are following Internet 
instructions to manufacture the most potent, concentrated form of the 
drug, known as BHO (butane hash oil or butane honey oil), at home. 
Besides dabs, street names for the drug also include 710, wax, honey 
oil and shatter.

Colorado saw 32 home explosions in 2014, up from 11 in 2013, 
triggered by attempts to make BHO. Butane is a highly volatile 
solvent and a flammable gas at room temperature. When cooling, or 
without proper ventilation, it can easily explode with a ball of 
fire, blowing out windows, causing property damage and putting 
neighbors at risk. This is particularly of concern to multilevel 
housing units such as motels, condominiums and apartments.

Because a large number of D.C. residents live in multi-unit housing, 
we must take note.

According to an Oregon newspaper report last May, fires and 
explosions from BHO production sent 17 people to a Portland burn unit 
in 16 months. The explosions caused numerous injuries, extensive 
property damage and at least one death in Oregon.

A horrific BHO explosion occurred in November 2013 in Bellevue, Wash. 
All 10 units of an apartment building were destroyed, and residents 
jumped from second- and third-story windows. The explosion and fire 
caused $1.5 million in damage to the building and the loss of 
$150,000 in belongings. Seven people were hospitalized. A former town 
mayor, an elderly woman who lived in the building, died from a pelvic 
injury sustained trying to escape the fire. Several weeks before this 
incident, police were called to investigate suspected BHO activity. 
Two men suspected of making BHO denied it.

On Oct. 31, a multi-unit apartment building in Walnut Creek, Calif., 
went up in flames because of BHO. One explosion near Sacramento 
displaced 140 people. The Sacramento Bee reported that Shriners 
Hospitals for Children-Northern California treated 68 victims for BHO 
burns in a three-year period. The average child was burned on 28 
percent of the body.

There is no sign the spate of explosions in these Western states will 
end anytime soon.

In California, law enforcement unsuccessfully tried to get marijuana 
concentrates banned. Once marijuana advocates get what they want, it 
will be very difficult to stop marijuana in any form, including the 
"bomb," BHO.

The recently passed D.C. Initiative 71, which would allow personal 
possession, did not outlaw, fine or hold accountable amateur hash oil 
manufacturing in a residential setting. Retail sales of marijuana in 
the District would bring a rash of explosions.

Landlords, homeowners and tenants who want to protect their lives, 
property and fortunes need to rally against any law that will allow 
the commercialization of marijuana in our nation's capital. We in the 
suburbs are not immune, as marijuana use will skyrocket in Virginia 
and Maryland if the D.C. Council legitimizes head shops, pot shops 
and hash oil manufacturers and growers.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom