Explosion of Washington’s marijuana industry has some police busier than ever

Jun 20, 2014, 2:19 PM | Updated: Jun 25, 2014, 4:01 pm

From a teen baking pot brownies and passing them out to unknowing classmates to people blowing up their homes while trying to extract oil, some police are worried legalized marijuana is a ticking bomb set to explode when retail shops open this summer.

Pierce County Detective Ed Troyer told KIRO Radio, after a father in Puyallup allegedly gave marijuana extract to his teen daughter, “We have fire departments responding to house explosions. We have kids inadvertently eating these medibles and getting sick. I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg because we’re the state that’s the guinea pig in this entire process.”

I-502 passed in November of 2012 and since then, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has been working alongside law enforcement, businesses, and the public to figure out how marijuana will be sold to recreational users.

The state Liquor Control Board plans to issue its first batch of retail license (20) on July 7.

But Troyer said some people are working ahead of schedule.

“You look at the people who first got their license to legally grow and they’re standing in front of five foot tall plants,” Troyer said. “Nobody’s following the timeline or the rules on this.”

Even when the licenses are issued, the Board says the system won’t be fully functional because businesses will have to determine supply chain and make many other decisions.

But Troyer isn’t worried about the people who are following the state guidelines. He’s worried about the infant caught in a blast that rocked a whole Puyallup neighborhood. The explosion on May 20 was the second hash oil lab explosion in three weeks in Pierce County alone.

“Once you get a controlled market, there’s always going to be a black market and there’s always going to be somebody who’s trying to circumvent the system and in doing so, they’re going to get themselves hurt or hurt other people,” Troyer said.

However, there’s nothing specific in I-502 preventing someone from extracting oil from marijuana – much like running a junk yard at your home.

The state can step in if the person or business has a license because they’re then required to follow certain guidelines.

It’s the do-it-yourselfers who Troyer said are causing the problems, which have his deputies busier than ever.

“When everybody wanted to legalize marijuana, one of the issues was that police had better things to do than work marijuana misdemeanor cases. That was the biggest piece of fiction out there because we didn’t do that to begin with,” Troyer said.

He said he would like to see the Liquor Control Board hire its own agents and do the enforcing. In the meantime, Troyer expects more law enforcement and medical aid will be kept busy until the entire process is ironed out.

The bottom line for Troyer is he just doesn’t want to see people getting hurt or destroying property.

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