Home hash oil cookers are now illegal | VailDaily.com

Home hash oil cookers are now illegal

Home hash oil cooking systems like this one are now illegal in Colorado, under a new state law that went into effect this week. House Bill 1035 requires that hash oil systems be licensed and inspected, and function away from residential areas.

EAGLE COUNTY — It's officially illegal to boil hash oil in Colorado without a license.

A statewide ban went into effect earlier this month with House Bill 1305, which makes it a Class 2 felony.

State lawmakers say it's a response the growing number of hash oil explosions across Colorado. There were 32 in 2014, injuring at least 30 people.

Among the most recent was one in Eagle-Vail when a valve in Ryne Wilhemi's closed-loop system malfunctioned and the concentrated butane exploded. Wilhelmi made his first court appearance last week, after recovering in a Colorado burn hospital.

Wilhelmi said he was doing nothing illegal, and was "totally compliant" with the deputies and when firefighters arrived.

He suffered burns over 25 percent of his body.

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"The number of accidental explosions associated with producing marijuana hash oil has markedly increased in our state, and sadly resulted in significant property damage and serious injuries to more than 30 people," said Rep. Yeulin Willett, R-Grand Junction, one of the sponsors of HB 1035. "This new law establishes stiff penalties for unlawfully producing hash oil or other marijuana concentrates, and will hopefully deter people from putting themselves and others in danger."

House Bill 1305 does not preclude licensed, legal production of medicinal marijuana concentrates by approved methods in the state, Willett said.

No longer local

Until now, local jurisdictions decided whether home hash oil systems are legal, and where.

Some prosecutors were charging hash cookers with felonies, while others said hash oil production is protected under a provision of the new legal pot law.

It's not legal anywhere in Eagle County, the Eagle County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. District Attorney Bruce Brown says it's a felony.

"It does not matter how you're doing it, it's illegal," said Jessie Mosher, public information officer with the Sheriff's Office. "If you're in a residential area, you're endangering everyone around you, and yourself."

Last year, Joshua Rosenbaum, 22, was using one of those makeshift cookers when he blew an 8-foot hole in the kitchen drywall of his Liftview apartment in Avon. Rosenbaum was trying to produce hash oil, but instead produced an explosion when butane gas ignited.

Rosenbaum was at home alone and no one was injured.

Brown charged Rosenbaum with arson, a felony, to which Rosenbaum eventually pleaded guilty.

He received a deferred four-year prison sentence, which means that if he can stay out of trouble for four years, apologizes to everyone in the neighborhood, speaks to schools and youth organizations, does useful community service and keeps a full-time job, he won't go to prison.

In addition to the Eagle-Vail explosion, similar explosions have hit Leadville, Frisco and Avon, said the District Attorney's Office.

Hash oil cash

People cook their own hash oil for higher highs and more money, said Kevin Wong, an intelligence analyst with Colorado High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

The THC content — the substance in marijuana that creates euphoria — can reach 80-90 percent. A joint can be 20-30 percent, Wong said.

Then there's the money.

Hash oil prices are all over the map. Ads offer to sell it for as much $1,000 for a one-ounce bottle. Others sell it for $35-$40 an ounce.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Home cooking hash oil ban

Colorado House Bill 1305 requires that hash oil operations:

Be done away from any residences,

Be done in a well-ventilated indoor facility

Be inspected and licensed by a local fire department.