Almost every day there’s a news report about some amateur blasters setting themselves on fire trying to make hash oil. There was, for instance, just yesterday news in the CBC of an explosion in New Brunswick, Canada, where two men were left in “critical condition with severe burns.” The two had blown up a garage. Luckily, a woman and a young child in the attached house were unharmed.
Though more and more extraction artists are of the schooled, cautious, and licensed variety, these accidental explosions are still a common occurrence. Everyone knows they’re dangerous, and no one wants to get burned. But what people might not know is that hash oil burns can actually be more severe and expensive to treat than other kinds of burns.
That’s according to a small study conducted by students at the University of Toronto Scarborough. “Canada is set to legalize cannabis next summer, but the impact of this policy change on burns from cannabis oil production is unknown,” lead author Sarthak Sinha, a fourth-year psychology and neuroscience undergraduate, told U of T News. “We felt it was important to get some Canadian data since the proposed law set to kick in next summer will permit home production of cannabis oil.”
Sinha and his co-researchers looked at medical burn records from a hospital in Alberta, and compared them to the findings of five other studies conducted in the U.S. and New Zealand.
They found patterns that separated burns from hash oil explosions from other kinds of burns. For one thing, patients tended to be young and male. Men, they found, are in general twice as likely to be treated for burns as women, but they are ten times as likely to be treated for hash oil-caused burns as women.
More significantly for those thinking of setting up their own DIY lab in their garage, Sinha and company also found that hash oil burns tended to cover a larger surface area of the body than other kinds of burns, meaning patients had to undergo more surgery and longer recovery times. Not surprisingly, that means that they also tend to be more expensive to treat than your average burn.
Sinha also noted that the study was incomplete, as many people who suffer from hash oil burns might not seek out medical treatment, so as to avoid criminal charges associated with running an explosive drug lab.
The researcher is careful to say that blasting hash oil doesn’t inherently have to be unsafe, only that communities should be more mindful of the dangers involved. “One of the biggest takeaways should be greater awareness around cannabis oil production,” he said. “This doesn’t have to be a dangerous activity if done properly, but often it’s done in isolation and without proper equipment.”
Photo via Flickr user Susanne Nilsson