Over the past 12 months, there's been a dramatic increase in the number of makeshift drug labs set up to extract concentrated, potent THC from cannabis, known by a variety of names including wax, honey oil, butter and hash oil. FOX 11 Investigates has been reporting on this growing trend since early last year when we first told you about the latest cannabis craze. Here's how it works. These kitchen chemists who make the concentrate use long tubes packed full of marijuana leaves. They then shoot compressed butane through the tube. The butane apparently leeches the THC from the vegetation and as it flows out in a greenish muck into a pan. So there they sit with pan full of butane. And that butane can be explosive. Police explain that the vapors from the butane ignite and rapidly expand, causing a massive explosion.
LAPD tells FOX 11 that is exactly what happened in Commerce late Wednesday night. The police say two men were critically burned when butane they were using to extract honey oil ignited, causing a fire and explosion and knocking the rented house off its foundation. According to police, 21-year-old Anthony Gonzalez suffered 3rd degree burns over 85% of his body and 19-year-old Joseph Wickham suffered similar burns over 50% of his body. Both men's injuries are potentially life-threatening. Right now they face charges of manufacturing a controlled substance. If one dies, the other could be charged with 2nd degree murder under California law.