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November 4, 2013
Extracting marijuana’s active chemicals to make hash creates a purer, higher product. But at least one person in Fort Collins has died trying to make it.
Prep for the polls: Your last-second voter guide Ballots are due by 7 p.m. Tuesday, but there’s still time to register and vote in this year’s election.
By Coloradoan staff
Whether you’re excited to weigh in on the five-year fracking moratorium in Fort Collins or a proposed $1 billion more per year for public education, this much is certain: The clock is ticking to submit your ballot. Larimer County voters have until 7 p.m. Tuesday to cast ballots in this year’s all-mail election. With vote-counting machines at the ready, here’s what you need to know about the 2013 election:
AN EXPLOSIVE MEANS TO
HIGHER HIGHS By Robert Allen [email protected]
As more people seek the higher highs of hashish, the folks making the marijuana product risk fiery explosions that have killed at least one person in Fort Collins. A man making butane hash in a unit at the El Palomino Motel in 2009 died after trying to light a cigarette dipped in some of the product, authorities say. The explosion’s fire could be seen for miles. Ricky “Tennessee” Pressley, 44, suffered burns to 55 percent of his body and died in a hospital several days later, according to the autopsy report. An Oct. 21, 2013, explosion at an apartment near Edora Park blew out windows and destroyed a refrigerator, but no one was hurt. Fort Collins po-
Above, Dave Watson, owner of Kind Care of Colorado, and Emily Stryker, the medical marijuana dispensary’s patient coordinator, explain a step in the process of making butane hash from marijuana. At top, butane hash is sold at Kind Care of Colorado for about $35 per gram. PHOTOS BY ROBERT ALLEN /THE COLORADOAN
lice said it looks like another case of hash production gone awry, and charges are pending.
A roof was lifted and all the windows were blown out of a home in Carr in north Weld
County last August, and other explosions related to hash making have previously been reported in Colorado Springs, Lakewood, Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs. Butane gas is almost always the culprit. It’s preferred to alcohol or dry ice for making hash because it’s highly efficient and preserves a high level of the chemical compounds that get people stoned. “In the last year, it’s become extremely popular,” said Dave Watson, owner of Kind Care of Colorado, a south Fort Collins medical marijuana dispensary. “There’s a little more of it around, and it’s a really superhigh concentrate.” With traditional marijuana, people smoke the leaves and other plant mass along with the See HASHISH, Page A2
Fort Collins baby awaits liver transplant in Aurora Doctors aren’t sure what is causing the liver malfunction of the ‘always happy’ 11-month-old.
By Sarah Jane Kyle [email protected]
AURORA — Chris Harness walks
down the halls of the intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Without skipping a beat, he pumps a glob of hand sanitizer into his palm, rubbing it over his hands and forearms every few yards down the hallway. It’s become routine for the stay-at-home dad turned stay-athospital dad. Entering his 11-month-old son’s room, Harness, 26, once again dabs the scent of alcohol over his skin be-
See ELECTION, Page A2
VOTER BREAKDOWN On Friday, the Colorado secretary of state released the latest voter turnout numbers. Statewide, 701,000 of the state’s roughly 3 million registered voters had cast their ballots. Here’s the voter breakdown in Larimer County: » Republican Party: 20,841 » Unaffiliated: 15,506 » Democratic Party: 15,023 » Libertarian Party: 262 » Green Party: 139 » American Constitution Party: 74 » Total: 51,845
NATION + WORLD » The shooter’s duffel bag contained a handwritten letter signed by 23-yearold Paul Ciancia that said he’d “made the conscious decision to try to kill” multiple TSA employees. » Page B5
Riley’s Rangers, a fundraising group formed to support the Harness family, is planning Riley’s Roundup, a fundraiser from 4-8 p.m. Nov. 17 at Hodi’s Half Note, 167 N. College Ave. Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door. Tickets can also be purchased by sending a check payable to Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA), with Riley in the memo line, to 1001-A E. Harmony Road, Suite 138, Fort Collins, CO 80525. For more information, visit www. COTAforRileyScottH.com.
See TRANSPLANT, Page A2
In Fort Collins, the most discussed item has been a five-year moratorium on the oil field practice of fracking proposed by the group Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins. Statewide, a tax increase that would send an additional $1 billion to public education has been a hot topic, while a proposed tax on recreational marijuana sales could also benefit school coffers, if passed. Larimer County voters will also decide whether to allow the county to build a new facility in Loveland, while those within Poudre School District will determine one contested school board race. Farther afield, Weld County will be among the 11 counties ask-
Suspect targeted TSA in LAX shooting
HOW YOU CAN HELP
fore going to Riley’s cribside, where his wife, Stephanie, also 26, is doting on the young boy.
What’s at stake?
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Chris Harness, 26, of Fort Collins smiles at his son Riley. Riley is 11 months old and waiting for a liver transplant at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora. SARAH JANE KYLE/THE COLORADOAN
45/29 Partly cloudy with showers » B8
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2013
FORT COLLINS COLORADOAN
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In my 17 years with the city of Fort Collins, I’ve seen firsthand how much my colleagues care about the community. Their commitment to service is evident not only in their daily jobs, but also in the ways they assist neighbors in need and support organizations that bene-
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microscopic tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, compounds that cause the desired effects. Hash gets rid of the plant mass, turning it into what’s known to marijuana sellers as “sap,” “honey,” “butter” or “wax.” But with marijuana still in its early days of legalization in Colorado, people who don’t have much experience making hash are blowing things up. Watson, who said he only makes butane hash outdoors, aims to work with local firefighters to build an enclosure to make the process safer. Poudre Fire Authority Capt. Patrick Love said the fire department often instructs people on how to comply with fire codes, but
fit our region. In September, powerful floods caused unprecedented damage throughout Colorado. In addition to ensuring the health and safety of our own residents, city of Fort Collins employees immediately began reaching out to assist communities that sustained much more damage. That week, our streets department received a call from Estes Park. Several roads in the town were completely washed out, and they did not have enough barricade equipment to block them all off. Within hours, one of our traffic control crews loaded 10,000 pounds of barricades and other traffic control devices onto a Chinook helicopter and flew to Estes
Park to help block the unsafe roads. In early October, several of our electric utility lineworkers partnered with a crew from Estes Park to restore power to the town of Glen Haven. Again transported by helicopter, they spliced and connected a mile of wire along the mountainside over the course of three days, restoring power to more than 300 residents. In addition, several members of Fort Collins’ communications staff provided assistance to the city of Evans, as they worked to restore sewer service and access to affected neighborhoods. We also reassigned a management assistant from my office to work in Estes Park dur-
ing the month following the flood to provide support as the town began the hard work of rebuilding. Just a few days after the flood, City Council unanimously adopted a resolution allowing me to direct resources to neighboring communities as needed. I’m proud to be part of a team that recognized the importance of supporting our whole community and did not hesitate to authorize our assistance. It’s not only in crises that my colleagues demonstrate their commitment to community service. The city also has a long history of supporting the United Way of Larimer County. Every fall, we launch a campaign for city employees to pledge financial sup-
port to United Way through a voluntary payroll deduction and a variety of fundraising events. In 2012, nearly onefourth of our city workforce donated to the campaign or volunteered hours for Make a Difference Day, assisting community agencies with various work projects. These are just a few of the examples of city employees from across the organization providing assistance. I am incredibly thankful for their unwavering commitment to serving our community — both within our city limits and throughout the state.
they’ve not worked with any marijuana dispensaries with regard to refining hash. Meanwhile, police are bracing themselves for an uptick in hash-related explosions. “I think we are seeing that it is going to get worse, at least by this method,” said Fort Collins Police Lt. Greg Yeager, with the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force. Special Agent Albert Villasuso with the Drug Enforcement Administration in Denver said butane-hash explosions have been a “large problem” in California and are expected to become more frequent in Colorado.
ies. Butane hash is popular enough that smoking paraphernalia is sold specifically for its use. When recreational marijuana starts to be offered to Coloradans in early 2014, even more demand is expected. Because it’s so concentrated, hash tends to cost much more than marijuana by weight. “It’s like going to the bar and ordering a beer with a shot,” Watson said, with hash more like liquor and marijuana more like beer. Refining butane hash can take anywhere from four to 72 hours. In some states, possessing even small amounts of hash is a felony while regular marijuana is a misdemeanor. In Colorado, hash was legalized with marijuana through Amendment 64, which voters passed a year ago. The process to make bu-
tane hash involves taking dried flowers and trimmings or smaller buds that aren’t as easy to sell directly as the larger marijuana buds. The plant matter — as much as 4 ounces worth — is stuffed into a large tube that has a small hole at one end and is open at the other, with a coffee filter affixed to it, Watson said. He explained at his store Saturday how a full can of butane is emptied into the hole. The resulting liquified THC drips out of the other end, through the filter, and into a Pyrex pan. The watery substance is then heated to about 128 degrees to get the butane back out of the product. “It evaporates at such a low temperature,” said Rick Ellison, manager of Kind Care. “So it’s very efficient.” When making hash with alcohol, the substance has to
be heated more, burning more of the end product. Hence butane’s popularity. Heavier than air, the butane falls to the ground and can ignite even from static electricity, Ellison said. They hope to come up with a safer location in which to make hash in the next several weeks, possibly something like a sandblasting chamber. “We’re going to try to design something that internally keeps that vapor in contained area, so nobody is exposed and the chances of combusting (decrease),” he said. “Like a sealed chamber.” Meanwhile, they make hash outdoors, so the butane quickly disperses. But Ellison said even a person walking nearby and flicking a cigarette could be “very bad news.” “It’s dangerous,” he said.
How butane hash is made
Butane hash, edibles and other products derived from marijuana are offered to medical marijuana patients at most Colorado dispensar-
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Transplant Continued from Page A1
Riley has been shuffled around various rooms in the Aurora hospital since Sept. 7. Chris has spent almost every waking moment at the hospital. Stephanie splits time between Riley’s bedside and her job. The Fort Collins family is waiting for the liver that will save Riley’s life. Their journey started with a bloody diaper in early September. When the young couple took their son to the hospital, they were sent home that night. The next morning, the tides turned for the worse when Riley started vomiting blood and was airlifted to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora. Life with their seemingly healthy baby boy who loved playing with the dogs and riding along in the stroller while his dad played Frisbee golf would become a thing of the past. Those happy, carefree days were soon replaced by a team of five primary care nurses and the ebb and flow of life surrounded by other families facing the unimaginable. “We’ve seen kids die,” Chris said. “It’s hard to be down here. You’re in a glass
room.” “But we’ve also seen a lot of kids leave and getting better,” Stephanie said. “Some days are easier than others. You see a lot of things, and it can be really hard.” Doctors still aren’t sure what is causing Riley’s liver to malfunction. Though they know he has a “serious liver disease,” the Harness family might never know what happened. All they know is that his only hope is a new liver. Riley is at the top of the transplant list at Children’s Hospital Colorado. That “perfect child liver” could come any day, or it could come months from now. If a liver can’t be found, it’s possible that a partial liver transplant from an adult might be enough to save him. But a new liver is Riley’s best shot, Chris said. According to doctors, most adults in Riley’s condition would be bedridden until transplant. But Riley is more than happy to bounce around in his Tigger Halloween costume and smile at whoever walks by. “He just brings happiness to everyone,” Chris said. “He’s always happy,” Stephanie said. “He’s always smiling. He plays. He sits up. He gets crazy.” The transplant is only the first step of a lifetime jour-
WATCH THE VIDEO To view a video of Riley at Children’s Hospital Colorado, click on this story at Coloradoan.com.
Darin Atteberry is the Fort Collins city manager. He can be reached at [email protected]
fcgov.com or (970) 221-6505.
No injuries reported in house fire near CSU home’s rear with smoke damage throughout. The home’s residents, Tyler Grau and Derek Bachellor, said they heard what they thought was an explosion and then sparking and cracking about 4:45 p.m. Grau said they ran into the kitchen and saw the sunroom engulfed in flames. The pair and their friend grabbed their two dogs, called 911 and escaped the home. Grau, a student at CSU, said they had a place to stay with friends amid the chaos. “It was wild,” he said of the experience, as a neighbor offered him a sweatshirt and hot meal. The fire’s cause is still under investigation.
By Madeline Novey [email protected]
ney to Riley’s happiness. While insurance is paying for the majority of the family’s stay at the hospital, Riley’s anti-rejection medications will cost $1,000 per month for the rest of his life. The family has to raise up to $75,000 to help cover medications, copays for posttransplant visits and other unexpected costs. Fundraising is being completed through the Children’s Organ Transplant Association. So far nearly $8,000 has been raised by friends, family and strangers. “He’s such a loved little boy,” Stephanie said. “I think we’ve always known that, but this shows how many people out there really care, and who shines in a time of need. Everything helps.”
Firefighters on Sunday evening extinguished a fire burning in a ranch-style house near CSU’s campus in Fort Collins. Just before 5:30 p.m., it was too soon to say what caused the blaze that started on the exterior and moved inside the home in the 900 block of Pioneer Avenue. There were no reported injuries, Poudre Fire Authority spokesman Patrick Love said. The fire was bumped to a second alarm once it moved inside. Roughly 25 firefighters were on the scene. Love said there was “heavy damage” to the
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Sarah Jane Kyle is the Coloradoan reporter covering volunteerism, nonprofits and philanthropy. Follow her on Twitter @sarahjanekyle or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ reportersarahjane.
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Election Continued from Page A1
ing voters if they’d like to secede from Colorado in an effort to form a 51st state.
Who can vote?
Anyone age 18 or older who has lived in Colorado at least 22 days prior to Tuesday can register to vote through 5 p.m. Tuesday, under Colorado’s new election laws. In Fort Collins, eligible voters can register from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the county elections department or citizens information center. Both are located at 200 W. Oak St. Newly registered voters will receive a ballot, which
What if I still have my ballot?
It’s a mail election, but if you’re still holding onto your ballot, it’s time to take matters out of the hands of the U.S. Postal Service. Larimer County offers a variety of locations for voters to drop off their ballots and save a stamp. That will be your best option Monday and Tuesday. Fort Collins drop-off locations are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday: » Larimer County Courthouse, 200 W. Oak St., first
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Visit Coloradoan.com/ elections for stories on the issues, and come to Coloradoan.com after the polls close for the latest results as they are made available. Elsewhere, election information is available at www.larimer.org/elections and the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, www.sos. state.co.us.
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