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2 Teens Burned, Hit With Serious Charges In Alleged Marijuana ‘Wax’ Production

Police: Teens Used Butane To Raise Potency Of Pot, Caused Explosion
Marijuana Wax Explosion Scene

The Brooklyn garage where two teens allegedly caused an explosion while preparing high-potency marijuana. (Credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A teenage boyfriend and girlfriend from Brooklyn ended up severely burned, and were facing serious criminal charges Wednesday, after they allegedly had an accident trying to make a potent form of marijuana known as “earwax.”

Anthony Gambale, 19, and his girlfriend, Gabriella Katanov, 17, of the Marine Park section of Brooklyn, were each charged as adults with reckless endangerment, criminal use of drug paraphernalia and marijuana possession, authorities said.

As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported Wednesday night, Katanov’s mother was distraught as she returned from visiting her daughter, who was hospitalized with third-degree burns.

“I’m so tired,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

Gambale and Katanov were in a rented garage apartment in Marine Park early Wednesday, allegedly trying to concoct the marijuana “earwax” when a fire erupted and left them severely burned. Both were taken to Staten Island University North Hospital in critical condition, officials said.

“It was a loud explosion,” said Battalion Chief Steven Treco. “Major burns to a major portion of their bodies.”

They were soaking marijuana in butane to create the “wax” in a garage, and one of them lit a cigarette and caused the explosion, according to a New York Daily News report.

They had filled a 30-gallon tub with marijuana and poured butane on it, the newspaper reported.

Substance abuse counselors said what happened her should make people wake up to the dangers of both making and manufacturing the ever-more potent drug.

The color and gooey consistency of the drug why it is called “earwax hash” or “earwax marijuana” but also “dabs,” “honey oil,” or “butter.”

Butane gas is applied and then evaporates, leaving 90 percent potency of tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC.

By comparison, some common forms of marijuana have a top potency of 20 percent.

“We’re now seeing reports of people showing in ERs overdosing,” said Sue Rusche, president of National Families in Action.

Katanov is a high school senior. Gambale is a former ride worker Luna Park at Coney Island.

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