The Detroit Free Press reports..
The explosion and fireball that incinerated a garage in a Commerce Township neighborhood on Saturday and sent a man to the University of Michigan Trauma Burn Center was no isolated incident.
It was the latest in a string of statewide explosions and fires, erupting when home marijuana processors used butane to refine cannabis into a concentrated form called called BHO — or butane hash oil.
The Commerce blast, in a neighborhood three miles north of Wixom, prompted Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard this week to call for stiffening Michigan’s marijuana laws. Under state law, using the butane process in residential areas is illegal. Yet there is no penalty for doing so, Bouchard said.
The process is so lucrative that home processors flock to it, often with tragic results. No agency tracks each butane blast, but a review of recent reports turned up these examples:
- Commerce Township — A house explosion on Sept. 24 rocked the area on the 3000 block of Arbutus Street and sent at least two people to hospitals with injuries.
- Berkley — in December 2018, a blast rocked a garage, badly burning the processor.
- Orion Township — in January 2018, a blast badly injured a home processor when he lit a cigarette.
- Genesee County — in January 2018, a mobile home kitchen exploded, seriously burning the occupant.
- Northern Michigan — in May 2017 at a motel south of Cadillac, a 13-year-old boy was seriously burned in an explosion caused by his mother’s use of butane; she is serving a six-year, eight-month sentence for child abuse while her son undergoes reconstructive surgeries.
- Warren — in September 2015, an explosion blew a freezer door 35 feet through the back of a house that was unoccupied at the time. That prompted Mayor Jim Fouts to say: “The recipe for this is on the internet, and you have amateurs doing it in their kitchens and basement