The debate over marijuana use has been a hot subject for the past few years, with four states having legalized the right to grow, distribute, sell, and buy the drug within their borders, with many states continuing to discuss the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. As the debate continues, many states still recognize marijuana as illegal and must deal with possession and manufacturing of the drug as such. Law enforcement in Laclede County, MO recently discussed concerns with its local media about marijuana in Missouri—not just about any effects, but how it’s being used, as Laclede County was instructed on. This method of use is called “marijuana honey”—and no, honeybees are not breaking bad and entering an illegal drug trade in Missouri, despite how great a headline such an image would inspire.
The basic strategy with this method is that “marijuana honey” manufacturers use the chemical butane to extract THC—the substance in cannabis that produces a ‘high’—from marijuana. Removing the plant from the liquid like a bag of tea, the THC-butane liquid left over in a jar is called honey due to the yellowish coloring that looks very much like a regular jar of honey, albeit a lighter kind. Many have surely heard of ‘pot brownies,’ and marijuana honey, according to Laclede County Sherriff Wayne Merritt, is being used to cook with to make similar foods. “They’ll cook it into cookies or gummy bears,” Merritt said.
While this method of marijuana use is not uncommon, Laclede County law enforcement and its other neighboring counties are growing concerned due to the fact that the substance used to make marijuana honey—butane–is a very volatile substance and highly flammable, and is often misused by amateur manufacturers to the point of causing house/lab fires. “We’ve seen it blow walls outside the side of rooms,” said Merritt. “And it catches the whole house on fire.” Even further, states like Colorado and California have seen an increase in the number of house fires caused by the manufacturing of marijuana honey. “They had 12 blow up in 2013 in Colorado and 36 in 2014,” Merritt said, the pattern continuing into the present day.
Sherriff Merritt said that this method’s appeal has been growing due to the fact that marijuana honey contains 80-100 percent THC, whereas smoked marijuana is only 15-20 percent—hence why law enforcement have been enlightened on the issues at hand. In addition to the fires, there is also concern in regards to children. “If people are making gummy bears, brownies, cookies, and leaving them out where anybody can get a hold of one—that’s dangerous.” When one ingests such high THC levels, the result is 2-3 days of an active high rather than a few hours, which is dangerous not only for children but also for adults who may try to travel in that time.
Setting aside the issue of legality, the manufacturing of marijuana honey can produce outcomes similar to meth lab explosions and child endangerment situations when left unregulated, and Sherriff Merritt, his department, and many others hope to the lessen the dangers of marijuana honey by being far more aware and attuned than before.