New Marijuana Drug Has Some Worried - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

New Marijuana Drug Has Some Worried

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PHILADELPHIA -

The pot debate continues to rage on and is taking a dangerous turn. People are finding new ways to get an even more powerful high.

FOX 29's Dave Kinchen shows us a new pot craze hitting our streets that could have dangerous, even deadly, results.

It's a pipe dream come true for pot smokers, and the craze is invading our area. It's called Butane Hash Oil and it's extracted from traditional Cannabis. Users say that the stuff is so powerful that a "dab" will do ya and then some.

"If you go to any college area around here, Temple, Penn, wherever, you'll be able to find yourself some BHO."

Nick Vadala works for Philadelphia Magazine. He has written about hash oil and says that the trend is wildly popular out West in states where Marijuana is legal.

However, Philadelphia is catching on, even though the laws are strict. Thousands in Philly now crave hash oil's powerful punch.

"It's a very strong, concentrated form of marijuana[.] It's also just very concealable: you can hide it, you can use it in the street, and it's kind of unknown as it stands right now."

Butane hash oil or BHO is made from grinding up Marijuana into a tube and running butane gas through it. Users then take hits from the extractions, "dabs" as they call them.

There are scores of do-it-yourself demos plastered over the Internet on sites like YouTube. These videos show people how to make the various forms of BHO, from the hard, amber colored stuff called "Shatter," to the softer, smoother "Butter" or "Earwax."

Some users even smoke, or rather vaporize the drug, through e-cigarettes. The DEA says that one drop on a cigarette is equal to the effects of a single joint.

However, it's more than just an ultra-high for Mike Whiter of South Jersey.

"It' calmed me down, I wasn't on edge. I felt really good," he tells FOX 29.

Whiter served in Iraq with the Marines and says he came back with post-traumatic stress disorder. He was constantly reliving the nightmares seen in combat.

"Seen things I can't unsee," Whiter explains. "Walking down the street and one side looks like Iraq, the other side looks like Philadelphia."

He says that VA doctors put him on about 40 medications for over five years.

"Everything ranging from Lexapril, which is an antidepressant, to Klonopin which is anti-anxiety, Morphine, methadone, which is a pain medication but it's a super strong pain medicine and it's used mainly to help heroin addicts get off of heroin."

He found hash oil a year ago and hasn't looked back since. He even showed FOX 29 some of the tools to make it. He presented a glass tube, a torch and yes, marijuana itself. He actually made up a quick batch and took a dab.

"The first time I smoked, after being on all these pills, I was like, ‘you know what? This could be a miracle drug for me.' It saved my life. It literally saved my life."

Some like whiter find it therapeutic, but there are dangers too, and we're not just talking about the head-spinning high. This past summer, an Oregon man died after receiving burns over 90 percent of his body during a hash oil explosion.

And federal authorities say that these explosions are on the rise. Some may recall when FOX 29 reported on a video of a house that blew up after a home-made BHO attempt went wrong. The people tried using the same flammable chemical you'll find in an average lighter.

Some interpret the dangers differently.

"To me, it's an argument for legalization."

Chris Goldstein is a Philadelphia activist with the group Philly NORML, and he is pushing for the decriminalization of Marijuana. He says that the government could actually help curb the BHO risks.

"My concern is for consumers out there, and the best way to protect Cannabis consumers is to regulate the product and have it manufactured under regulations and available in stores."

The legal debate is currently going, state by state. While drug enforcement authorities continue to watch the flow of hash oil, many users like Mike Whiter stand by it.

"Now I have a life again. I have a purpose in life again…" he tells FOX 29.

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