- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Authorities warned Minnesotans on Wednesday about the dangers of marijuana wax, and they blamed a botched attempt to make the highly concentrated form of the hippie drug for a deadly November house fire in St. Cloud.

Stearns County prosecutors on Wednesday charged 18-year-old Dustin Zablocki and 19-year-old Justin Pick with third-degree murder in the death of Zablocki’s 85-year-old grandmother, Sally Douglas.

The two were making marijuana wax in the basement of the St. Cloud house where Zablocki lived with his mother and grandmother in November when they caused an accidental fire, according to the criminal complaint. They were using a hot plate and butane to extract the THC from marijuana, creating a waxy byproduct that gives users a powerful high.

According to the complaint, Zablocki collapsed in tears and told a police officer, “I just killed my grandma,” the St. Cloud Times reported. The men told police that they didn’t know Douglas was home at the time. Douglas died of complications of smoke inhalation two weeks after the fire.

The Department of Public Safety said marijuana wax packs a more potent high because levels of the active ingredient THC range between 30 percent and 90 percent in marijuana wax, compared with 14 percent in typical marijuana.

Clandestine manufacturers use highly flammable butane to extract the THC from marijuana leaves, which the DPS said has resulted in a number of fires, explosions, deaths and injuries across the country, including the fire in St. Cloud.

Pick told police it was the first time he had tried to make the drug, prosecutors contend. He said he had watched instructional videos online and knew it was dangerous.

Court records did not list an attorney for either Zablocki or Pick, who is from Sartell.

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