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Feds charge man for hash oil operation

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SAN DIEGO — A San Diego man is charged in a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday with various drug and weapons counts, including endangering human life while illegally manufacturing hashish oil, in connection with an explosion at a marijuana dispensary that he operated.

Steve Elar Mora, 34, made his first appearance in U.S. District Court Wednesday and was ordered held pending a detention hearing scheduled for Monday.

According to court records, the explosion occurred due to an illicit “butane honey oil” lab operating at the marijuana dispensary. Also called “wax,” hash oil is an extremely potent form of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects.

It is made by dissolving marijuana using dangerous substances such as butane — or lighter fluid — and selling the resulting residue to users at more than twice the price of other high quality marijuana products.

Efforts to extract hash oil are on the rise. Since October 2011, there have been about 20 butane honey oil fires/explosions in San Diego County, according to authorities.

The explosion connected to the indictment of Mora occurred July 21 at the Greenworks Dispensary in the Clairemont area of San Diego.

While executing a search warrant after the explosion, law enforcement also found a handgun and ammunition at the dispensary. According to the indictment, Mora has been convicted of two state felonies and is not allowed to possess a firearm under federal law.

DEA agents also found an AR-15 assault rifle during a search of Mora’s home near Mission Bay High School in Pacific Beach, according to court papers.

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