New form of marijuana popping up in W. Pa.; production can be explosive

PITTSBURGH — A dangerous drug is popping up in Pittsburgh and around the area, and experts said living next door to someone making it is as dangerous as living next to a meth lab.

YouTube videos of people cooking wax looks like an innocent science project gone bad. The drug is actually BHO, or butane hash oil. It's marijuana oil boiled down, but the effects are far greater than smoking marijuana alone.

"We are seeing potency in the range of 50 percent for the BHO, and it has gone as high as 80 percent," DEA Special Agent John Scherbenske told Channel 11 News.

Scherbenske added wax started in California, but labs are popping up all over the country.

There were 300 wax explosions last year alone. Kitchens, bathrooms and in some cases, entire houses blew up.

"You're using many different solvents that are highly flammable and potentially dangerous," Scherbenske said. "It's very dangerous, not only for the people doing this, but for their neighborhood."

Pennsylvania State Troopers told us wax has been spotted in Washington and Westmoreland counties. Pittsburgh police confirmed a handful of cases in the city.

In Lancaster County, agents recently found wax along with guns and $50,000. Officers arrested 21-year-old David Irwin claiming he bought the drugs and shipped them to Lancaster.

Police said the drug is easy to conceal, and many users hide it in lip balm containers. They also use e-cigarettes to smoke it.

DEA agents admit that they most likely don't know about a wax lab until it's too late.

"A lot of them we don't know about until there is an explosion," Scherbenske said.

CLICK HERE to submit an anonymous tip about drug activity to the DEA.