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Sophisticated marijuana operation busted in Topsfield

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Two men were arrested Wednesday in Topsfield with a large amount of carefully cultivated marijuana plants and a quantity of butane honey oil. Topsfeld is not known for its drug problem but it is an ideal place to operate a lab process as it has a lot of rural space, eliminating the problem of pesky neighbors observing your illegal activities. Lani Soo Aldrich and Robert Whittington are both being held pending bail after their arraignment in Ipswich District Court.

Authorities seized more than 18 pounds of marijuana, more than a pound of butane honey oil and 78 marijuana plants. Also seized in the raid was equipment used to support what is described as a “sophisticated” growing operation of marijuana. The suspects are being charges with possession and intent to distribute both class C and class D substances.

Butane honey oil has actually been around for a while, usually referred to as hash oil or dabs. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana that causes the “high”. To produce butane honey oil the THC content in marijuana is distilled, using some form of chemical like butane, to produce a refined and intensified drug. The distillation process is quite dangerous as it requires the use of volatile chemicals and open flame. There are numerous stories of amateur chemists badly burning themselves or blowing themselves and their kitchens up altogether as they attempt the process.

Smoking hash oil also carries risks. In addition to the usual problem of inhaling smoke into your lungs, even in the most carefully distilled samples, there is a small amount of butane inhaled. Additionally, the THC content in hash oil regularly tests at 80 to 90%. This is in comparison with recent samples of marijuana that usually have 8-10% THC and occasionally as high as 20%. The potency of hash oil is much greater, creating greater addictive risk for those susceptible to develop a dependency.

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