Cannabis is quickly becoming one of the most studied and researched botanical plants on the planet. Given its numerous therapeutic and recreational properties, cannabis has been intensively investigated for use in more enriched forms, both therapeutic and recreational.
Recent frightening instances at cannabis-dedicated facilities around the world, on the other hand, have sparked widespread worry. Because a substantial number of these incidents are linked to the nature of the solvents employed in extraction operations, the majority of these accidents result in exceptionally heinous consequences.
Accidents in a cannabis extraction facility can manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including asphyxiation from CO2 exposure, dust-related health issues from cannabis dust, health complications arising from inhaling harmful vapors, hearing loss from running extraction machines, and many other manifestations.
Despite this, the hazard of working with flammable liquids and gases continues to be the most common cause of catastrophic mishaps, as seen by the disturbingly high prevalence of disasters in the workplace.
THE CASE STUDIES IN THE EXTRACTION OF CANNABIS
With the increasing integration of cannabis regulations in the United States, the last five years have seen an increase in the number of fires and explosions associated with cannabis. While some of these events were quickly contained, the majority grew out of control, resulting in disastrous consequences:
The Case of the Santa Fe Dispensary
Residents of Santa Fe, Oregon, who witnessed the emergence of a local medical cannabis store over the summer of 2016, will remember that summer forever. Following the mishap, which took two workers to the hospital with third-degree burns, it was determined that the disaster was caused by incorrectly extracting THC with butane, according to subsequent investigations.
Although the catastrophe was principally caused by seven violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), comparable butane-related incidents have been on the rise in places such as Washington and Colorado, with some incidences reaching up to a hundred in some instances.
Boyd Street was engulfed in flames.
“An explosion at a hash oil supplier in Los Angeles has resulted in the injuries of 11 firefighters, three of whom are in severe condition,” authorities stated.
Firefighters were dispatched to 327 East Boyd Street in Los Angeles at approximately 6:30 p.m. local time to investigate a structure fire. It was “mild to moderate smoke,” according to chief Ralph M Terrazas, that initially drew their attention, but the mounting pressure and heat they felt inside made them believe “something wasn’t quite right.”
At this point, the firefighters moved to evacuate the building, but just as they were about to do so, a “significant explosion” shook the neighborhood, according to city fire Capt. Erik Scott, and the firefighters inside were forced to run through a wall of flames that he estimated to be 30 feet high and wide. A blazing ladder was lowered to the ground, and those on the roof scrambled down it with their protective coats also on fire.
Over 200 firefighters hurried to the scene, dozens of engines, trucks and rescue vehicles were parked on the street, and the fire spread to many surrounding buildings as they battled the blaze. Allegedly, the three cannabis facilities housed within the facility were each charged with more than 30 offenses, and its operators were sentenced to more than 40 years in prison.
This incident was comparable to another significant fire at a local firm in 2016, which began with the explosion of pressurized gas cylinders and required the participation of more than 160 firemen to put out.
The Marijuana Manufacturing Facility in Arizona Case
An alarm was received on the evening of April 12th, 2018, by the Coolidge Fire Department, in reference to a marijuana cultivation operation in the region. After receiving a call reporting a lightning strike-induced fire, the crew discovered that the fire had started within, due to inadequately placed hazardous items.
When the fire was finally put out shortly after 7:30 pm, it had already caused major damage to the facilities. Fortunately, no one was hurt. According to the then-Fire Chief Mark Dillon, the initial damage estimates were in the range of $100,000 to $150,000.
CONTROLLING THE DANGEROUS SITUATION
A bill enacted by the California legislature in 2017 to address the recurring problem of butane-related explosions was vetoed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown because of the state’s political climate. He took this step because he believed that it was important to give the legal hash oil sector a chance to comply with approaching rules, which included, but were not limited to, the following:
The use of butane and other explosive solvents is regulated in California, and all businesses that use them must pay fines of up to $75,000 per year and employ standard equipment that controls the solvents.
In addition, they must pass fire code inspections and instruct their personnel on safety procedures. Businesses that are found to be in violation of these laws or that are identified as being the cause of cannabis-related accidents will be penalized in accordance with the law.
Although more of these incidents occurred despite the laws, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill No. 3112 in September 2018, adding non-odorized butane to the state’s list of restricted drugs.