(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), February 8, 2016 – Legislation is traveling through the General Assembly to protect innocent victims from being harmed by the manufacture of a new and extremely potent form of marijuana called “butane hash oil” (BHO). Senate Bill 1586, sponsored by Senator Doug Overbey (R-Maryville), defines the substance and creates a Class E felony for knowingly manufacturing it. It also provides for a new offense of aggravated child abuse, neglect or endangerment for the knowing exposure of a child to the manufacturing process.
The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.
“This is an extremely potent derivative of marijuana which, like meth, has the potential to explode during the manufacturing process,” said Senator Overbey, who represents Sevier and Blount Counties in the State Senate. “Chemicals used to make it can cause fires, chemical burns, release toxic fumes and cause explosions. This legislation strengthens penalties against the manufacture, especially as it involves the exposure of children to its harmful effects.”
Overbey said the issue was brought to his attention by Officer Holly Hatcher in the Crime Prevention Office of the Alcoa Police Department.
The cannabis concentrate in the substance contains 80 to 90 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and is up to 6 times stronger than the average marijuana cigarette, which contains between 5 and 18 percent. On the street, it’s known by a variety of slang terms including shatter, dabs, toast, erl, honeycomb, honey and wax. The drug can be smoked or vaporized directly, or used to make edible products or balms. It can also be used in vaporizer pens like e-cigarettes.
Some of the side effects include increased heart rate, psychosis, paranoia and hallucinations.
BHO manufacturing poses a significant risk to neighborhoods, going beyond the walls of the lab itself and placing people and property in harm’s way. Colorado experienced as much as 30 explosions in 2014 due to at-home production of the drug.
“This drug is growing in popularity, especially for those under the age of 25 which is very concerning,” added Overbey. “Hopefully, this bill will curb the manufacture and use of this dangerous drug.”
Overbey said the next hurdle for the bill is in the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee where members will look at the measure’s estimated impact of $555,900 in incarcerations costs.
The legislation is sponsored by Senator Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville) in the House of Representatives where it has been assigned to the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.