As the legalization of marijuana spreads from state to state, safety concerns have started to rise . The safety concerns are due to explosions, which were first deemed to be a fluke during legalization, of factories that grow and extract hush.
According to current statistics, at least ten explosions have occurred in the 33 states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal and leisure use. These fires mainly occur during the extraction of hash oil (THC) from cannabis. The process of extracting THC and other cannabis chemicals such as Cannabidiol involves the use of highly flammable solvents such as propane , butane, and ethanol and the process should be carefully carried out under specified conditions.
The problem comes in when safety measures and precautions aren’t followed which leads an explosion caused by the highly flammable solvents, while Other explosions occurred due to lack of proper safety measures. For example in 2018 , a fire at a legal cannabis facility occurred due to improper storage of a butane can. “This is something the fire departments and law enforcement and city code officials will have to deal with,” said the Coolidge, Arizona Fire Captain Mark Dillon. As hash oil extraction is a new and growing process, there are no clear safety rules put down by states to ensure the safety of workers and safe removal of hash oil. Some states, such as the Rhodes Islands, which are in the process of legalizing marijuana, are considering barring manufacturers from hash oil extraction as fire safety measure. However, barring manufacturers from extracting hash oil under state- regulated policies will lead to a rise in illegal extraction of hash oil.
Illegal hash extraction labs pose a higher fire and explosion risk due to lack of regulation by the state. According to El Paso’s DEA report, there are 260 unauthorized hash extraction labs across the country, and in more than 10% of them, there were fires or explosions reported. The issue of safety in cannabis facilities should be addressed sooner because the business is growing exponentially.
According to New Frontier Data, a cannabis research firm, in 2018, there was an estimated $10.4 billion in legal medical and recreational marijuana sale and 259,000 new jobs. The sales are expected to rise to up to 40 billion dollars by the year 2021.To cub pot factory explosions, states such as Colorado revised the hash extraction code. The new code requires hash extraction carried out using flammable solvents to be carried out in a non-combustible room.
The room must be in a child and health care facility free building. The workers must also be trained on how to carry out safe extraction of hash oil. The room must also be equipped with a gas detection and fire extinguishing systems. Other states, such as California, are holding the owners liable of any explosions that occur within their facility. The owners are forced to pay hefty fines and even face criminal charges.