After responding to a structure fire on Feb. 13, Atascadero Police Department and Fire Department officials reported discovering evidence of a makeshift butane hash oil lab that was determined to be the cause of the blaze.
The fire had been extinguished by the time officials had arrived. In addition to finding the makeshift lab, investigators determined that the suspects’ 1-year old child was in the residence at the time of the fire, according to a press release issued by the Atascadero Police Department.
Police arrested Kevin Manhart, 34, on suspicion of manufacturing of a controlled substance and felony child endangerment, and Danielle Manhart, 23, on suspicion of felony child endangerment. Both suspects received minor burns from the fire. The child wasn’t injured and was turned over to Child Welfare Services.
The process of making cannabis concentrates—also called honey oil, hash oil, or wax—uses a chemical solvent to strip cannabinoids from marijuana plant matter, resulting in a concentrated, sticky substance. A rise in home production—which commonly uses butane, a highly flammable liquid gas—has followed the increasing popularity of cannabis concentrates. In recent years, several fires around the county have led law enforcement officials to discover makeshift butane hash oil labs. The labs are most commonly discovered after they spark a fire, though a handful of labs were found by law enforcement without the involvement of a blaze.
Under California Health and Safety Code 11379.6, created in the 1980s to combat methamphetamine production, California state law considers the use of a chemical to produce an illegal substance—including concentrated cannabis—to be felony manufacturing.
-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay