Concerns Rise Over Usage of Hash Oil with E-Cigarettes

By Steven Luke
|  Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014  |  Updated 2:07 PM PDT
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Growing Number of Youth Smoking Vaporizers Alarms Health Officials

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Agents at San Diego’s Drug Enforcement Administration office are becoming increasingly concerned with anything having to do with hash oil, a marijuana byproduct. This now includes electronic cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are designed as an alternative to traditional cigarettes. They are battery-powered and filled with liquids which are turned to vapor, but some people are using them to try and get high.

“Because of the way these mechanisms work, the odor is highly diminished. So if a parent thinks because they don’t smell it on their kid, that doesn’t necessarily mean their kids aren’t using,” said Gary Hill, Assistant Special Agent In Charge with the San Diego DEA office.

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Law enforcement agents aren’t the only ones concerned.

“If it wasn’t made for it, don’t put it in there. You’re dealing with batteries, you’re dealing with heat, potentially if it’s hot enough – flames or fire,” said Christine Gentry, chief operating officer for Vapure , a San Diego-based electronic cigarette company. Their six county stores each have signs telling customers not to speak with employees about using their products with illegal drugs.

“The moment they bring it up when they come in the store we tell them, ‘sorry, we can’t talk to you about that,’ and if they push it again, we just tell them to leave,” Gentry said.

“We’re finding these people who utilize these types of vaporizers with hash oil, the intensity of the high is tremendously more so than traditional smoking in a pipe or cigarette type of form,” Hill said.

Hash oil is most commonly extracted from marijuana plants using highly volatile Butane gas. The process can lead to explosions, and San Diego has seen several in recent months. The DEA considers San Diego the number one hot spot for this problem nationwide.

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“So the concern lies if we see more and more people wanting the demand for hash oil because they want to use hash oil in these vaporizing cigarettes, the demand for hash oil goes up. Therefore, the potential for other hash oil extraction labs increase, which increases the potential for more fires and explosions,” Hill explained.

Some electronic cigarette makers say hash oil is too thick to work in their products. The DEA says the more parents are educated, the better, as this is not a problem that seems to be going away anytime soon.

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