The DEA is looking for someone to burn a ton of weed every two hours
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is looking for an Arizona contractor to incinerate marijuana at a rate of 1,000 pounds an hour between March and September, according to a newly issued contracting notice from the DEA’s Houston Division.
Put another way, 16,000 ounces of bud will be going up in smoke every 60 minutes, which is 32,000 half ounces; 64,000 quarters; 128,000 eighths; or the equivalent of about 896,000 half-gram joints. The weed will be transported from 12 cities in Texas to an incinerator in Tucson.
Most of the marijuana will be in the form of “tightly compressed ‘bricks’ or ‘bales,’ typically weighing between 40 and 60 pounds. Packaging will include, among other things, cardboard; Saran Wrap; aluminum foil; duct, scotch, and packing tape; plastic evidence bags and wrapping paper (!). The DEA did not respond to a request for further details.
“The integrity of the destruction process shall be such that the material to be destroyed cannot be redirected or retrieved once it is committed to destruction,” the DEA notice says. The pot must be destroyed “to a point where there are no detectable levels, as measured by standard analytical methods, of byproduct from the destruction process. DEA shall inspect the incinerator to ensure no drug residue remains.”
There will be DEA personnel present at each burn, as well as closed circuit cameras at the facility recording every step of the process. The DEA “reserves the right to access the video feed as necessary to ensure the proper destruction of its drugs and safety of its representatives.”
The agency requires that the location have a fence tall enough to prevent onlookers from watching the burn process, and that all employees involved undergo a background check and yearly drug tests.
The DEA already has a contractor in mind, according to the agency: as the notice says, “This is anticipated to be a sole source award to Tucson Iron & Metal,” which is the only vendor in close enough proximity to the Texas towns of McAllen, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Laredo, and Eagle Pass, where the confiscated cannabis is presumably stored.
Similarly, the Atlanta field office of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is looking for an incinerator capable of burning between 1,500 and 5,000 pounds of drugs at a time, eight to 12 times a year, according to a recently issued solicitation. The menu will be slightly more varied, including marijuana, hashish, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, steroids, opiates, and khat.
Cocaine, heroin, and meth burns must reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered fully destroyed, says the CBP tender. The others only need to reach 1,500 degrees, it advises.
Although marijuana has been legalized in one form or another in 33 states and Washington, DC, it is still illegal under federal law.
Read the full text of the DEA contracting notice here:
That's enough for about 896,000 joints.
New marijuana trend sends smokers to burn units
A burn doctor who struggles to treat dabbers believes theyвЂ™re suffering from cannabis withdrawal
For marijuana enthusiasts in Colorado, 420, a common nickname for pot, is old news. The new code number is 710. Flip the digits upside down and you get вЂњoil,вЂќ a reference to oil-based cannabis concentrates. This wildly potent waxlike substance is one of the fastest growing segments of the marijuana industry.
The psychoactive component in pot is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The THC content of pot has been steadily rising for decades, from about 3.5 percent in 1985 to 13 percent today. But these new concentrates can reach a staggering 90 percent THC. The high from smoking them, or dabbing, is so intense, High Times magazine called it a “quantum leap forward” in getting stoned. Concentrates are worth more per gram than gold.
That dizzying concentration also means a higher risk of addiction. Cannabis isn’t usually associated with physical dependency. But Denver’s only burn unit is seeing a rising number of patients burned in dabbing-related explosions, and many of them appear to be in the throes of withdrawal.
Cured by THC
An amateur dab cook showed вЂњAmerica TonightвЂќ his technique. In a well-ventilated area, he blasts butane into a container holding ground marijuana, extracting resin from the plant.
Concentrates вЂ” known as dabs, honey, shatter, budder and wax вЂ” are made through different extraction methods. ColoradoвЂ™s retail marijuana industry can manufacture them safely by using expensive, commercially engineered equipment, but a rising number of amateur cooks are trying to make concentrates at home by watching how-to videos on YouTube. Home cooks typically use butane, a cheap and highly combustible solvent, and sometimes it explodes.
Since recreational pot use was legalized in Colorado a year ago, the number of explosions at home THC extraction labs has more than doubled, to 32, according to Kevin Wong, an intelligence analyst at the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, who tracks the impact of marijuana legalization in four states. And while a few cities like Denver have recently enacted ordinances against home THC extraction, in most places in the state it’s still perfectly legal.
вЂњThe THC extraction labs are as dangerous, as explosive, as popular [as] вЂ” if not more so than вЂ” meth labs now,вЂќ said Wong.
Odorless and heavier than air, butane gas can linger along the floor and in corners of a room for long periods. Even a spark from static electricity is enough to cause an explosion.
вЂњThe volatile solvent is venting out into the atmosphere, usually inside a home because itвЂ™s cold outside, thatвЂ™s where they have their laboratory,вЂќ said Wong, вЂњAnd any source of ignition вЂ” be it a cellphone, a computer, a pilot light вЂ” that volatile gas will find it, and it will ignite.вЂќ
marijuana legalization analyst
In Denver the most severely injured burn victims end up at the University of Colorado Hospital, which runs the cityвЂ™s only burn unit. In the past year, it has seen 17 patients admitted for marijuana-related burns. Some cases involved burns to more than 70 percent of the body and required extensive skin grafting.
вЂњI didn’t know about extracting THC out of marijuana using organic solvents,вЂќ said Gordon Lindberg, the burn unitвЂ™s medical director. вЂњAnd I didn’t know how easy it was. I mean, butane вЂ” it’s what you get in cigarette lighters.вЂќ
Lindberg quickly noticed that there was something different about some of his new burn patients. They were nauseated and vomiting, which isn’t characteristic of the injury. Managing their pain, he said, was a nightmare.
вЂњThe first few patients that came in, we were giving them the narcotics that we usually use and giving them fentanyl and things like that for dressing care, and it just wasn’t working,вЂќ he said. вЂњAnd we were kind of scratching our heads, like, why are these patients having these high tolerances for narcotics?вЂќ
He also noticed that these patients werenвЂ™t eating, a bad sign for burn victims, who often require two to three times the normal intake of calories for their wounds to heal.
вЂњFor a burn, you have to eat enormous amounts of protein because you have to replace all the skin thatвЂ™s been lost,вЂќ Lindberg explained.
As a standard practice, the University of Colorado Hospital orders toxicology screenings for all burn patients because treatment needs can change, depending on the substances in the body. Patients who have been drinking alcohol require more fluids; patients on cocaine require special consideration for the effects of treatment on the heart.
On a hunch, Lindberg decided to give the patients testing positive for marijuana Marinol, a synthetic THC medication developed for cancer patients.
вЂњIt seemed to really settle them right out. Their pain was a lot easier to manage. They didnвЂ™t throw up a lot. They were able to keep calories in,вЂќ he said. вЂњIt was literally like a switch had been thrown. It was very, very, very hard to miss.вЂќ
His patients, it seemed, were in withdrawal and needed THC to recover.
Addicted to pot
At a private cannabis social club on the outskirts of Denver, almost everyone is dabbing: heating up a small amount and then inhaling the vapor.
The scientific consensus is that marijuana can breed dependency, but the existence of marijuana withdrawal has long been a source of debate. A 2000 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV explained that the condition wasn’t included because the clinical significance of withdrawal symptoms was “uncertain.”
But studies of people and animals over the last 15 years have provided significant proof that quitting pot after a period of heavy use can result in reduced appetite, sleeplessness, anxiety, tremors, fever and abdominal pain. At the same time, the THC content of weed has continued to rise. Cannabis withdrawal disorder was included in the fifth edition of the DSM, published in 2013.
вЂњWhat I worry about is how much marijuana people are taking now as a result of these laws,вЂќ Lindberg said. вЂњWhen I was in college, we never had people falling off of balconies from overdosing on an edible. We never had people ending up in emergency rooms with frank psychosis from too much marijuana. We never had anybody withdrawing from it.вЂќ
Only recently accepted and relatively rare, cannabis withdrawal isn’t mentioned much in the public health discussions over cannabis legalization. Issues like drugged driving, overdosing on edibles and the long-term risks of adolescent smoking have dominated the debate. But the rise of dabbing may change that, and Lindberg’s burn unit has become an unintended laboratory for the public health repercussions of legal marijuana.
His marijuana-related burn patients have also given him another idea. Burn victims typically receive a powerful cocktail of narcotics to help cope with the pain, and the side effects can be severe. But if Marinol can help relieve pain and cut down on the amount of narcotics needed for a patient in marijuana withdrawal, perhaps it could do the same for a typical burn patient too.
вЂњIf we give them a low dose of Marinol, would their narcotic requirements go down?вЂќ he said. вЂњSo we may be able to study it as a pain medication.вЂќ
Marijuana Burn Units Colorado Pot Dangers Legalization