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Two Explosions in One Day Caused by Men Extracting THC From Marijuana in Palm Springs

They were allegedly trying to extract THC from marijuana plants by using flammable gas and a heat source-- in unconnected cases. Both men are now locked up in the Banning jail.

29-year-old Charles Wunderlich is accused of trying to extract THC from marijuana plants.  Photo courtesy: Palm Springs Police Department.
29-year-old Charles Wunderlich is accused of trying to extract THC from marijuana plants. Photo courtesy: Palm Springs Police Department.

One of two men accused of accidentally starting fires while extracting the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana from cannabis plants was arrested Thursday, while the other pleaded not guilty to felony charges.

Aaron James Ellwanger, 48, was arrested Monday evening after a non- injury fire in a garage in the 3900 block of East Sunny Dunes Road, Palm Spring police Sgt. Harvey Reed said. He was allegedly trying to extract THC from marijuana plants by using flammable gas and a heat source, and the gas ignited, Reed said.

Ellwanger pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon to charges of recklessly causing a fire and attempting to manufacture a controlled substance. He's being held at Banning's Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility, with bail set at $50,000.

About 6:45 p.m. Monday, another explosion and fire was reported at a home in the 1500 block of Wawona Road. The fire was out when officers arrived, but 29-year-old Charles Wunderlich, one of the occupants, was determined to have allegedly been extracting THC from marijuana plants.

Wunderlich, who fled before officers arrived, was arrested around 4 Thursday afternoon in the 1500 block of North Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, Reed said.

The two fires and suspects were not believed to be connected, the sergeant said.

Extracting THC from the plant entails charging a tube packed with pot with compressed butane -- the highly flammable gas is heavier than air at room temperature -- then evaporating the precipitate into a smokable, waxy substance. Some waxes can be nearly pure THC.


— City News Service.

Jeremiah March 08, 2014 at 12:06 AM
Hey RB - I like your statement "Most of the people I know who have smoked weed are far more safe and considerate than the very common jerks who drink and drive.". **** Except for when they sit at a stop sign for 5 minutes waiting for it to turn green! **** Jeremiah
rubberband March 08, 2014 at 12:19 AM
Yea, that happens....Those STOP signs take a super looooong time....(I've done that sober as a judge.)
SummerBreeze March 08, 2014 at 07:18 AM
Most studies show that the violent and criminal behavior associated with marijuana users comes from their actions related to prohibition itself, and withdrawl symptoms - not the drug's use. This leads to a criminal record for the naïve, perhaps jail time, and then there is very little chance of changing 'the thug life', you see above. It also leads to limits on your personal freedoms, for if I were to have any kind of drug related criminal record, Homeland Security would ban me from entering the USA. States can legalize it all they want, but it's still classified as a Type I (most dangerous) drug by the FDA, and definition is changed, The Feds will always wage a war on it. Despite it's medical uses, most recently it's success with juvenile epilepsy, which often leads to ADD, the drug's classification will just keep leading to more arrests, and there will be grow-ops in houses around the world, ruining homes and neighbourhoods. At home, we've had the same problem with legalizing pot for medical uses for years. Previously, if you were prescribed pot, you could grow it on your own. Now, as of April 1, production will be done on vast scales, in huge greenhouses highly regulated and taxed by the government, designed to supply Canada and other countries with a drug of standardized potency, removing the 'outlaws' from the equation.
SummerBreeze March 08, 2014 at 09:04 AM
Sorry, that should say "*IF* the definition *ISN'T* changed.
beaumontdave March 10, 2014 at 03:11 AM
Obama should get pot reclassified or legalized on his way out, since so many are hating on him anyway.

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