Missourians are familiar with the risk of methamphetamine labs catching fire, but a new method of processing marijuana is causing the latter drug to be just as dangerous.

The Laclede County Sheriff’s Department hosted a training session Tuesday to educate area first responders about “marijuana honey,” a substance up to five times more potent than marijuana.

The instructor of the course was Sergeant Kip Bartlett of the Mid-Missouri Drug Task Force, and his audience included representatives of the Laclede County Sheriff’s Office, the Lebanon Police Department, the Lebanon Fire Department, the Lebanon Rural Fire Protection District, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office and Mercy Emergency Medical Services.

According to Laclede County Sheriff Wayne Merritt, manufacturers of marijuana honey use butane to extract THC, marijuana’s high-inducing chemical, from the plant, and the end product is a substance that is 80 to 100 percent THC. That compares to the 15 to 20 percent THC content of ordinary marijuana, and Merritt said that the purer drug produces a stronger, longer-lasting high.

“Colorado has legalized marijuana… and after they legalized it, of course everybody wants to get a bigger high than what they can get off marijuana,” Merritt explained.

The problem is that butane is flammable. If marijuana honey manufacturer smokes a cigarette — or produces any other kind of open flame during the manufacturing process — the butane could ignite and start a fire.

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