Edmonton… An increase in the number of hash oil extraction labs in the province is putting neighbourhood safety at greater risk due to fires and explosions. Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) and Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) are renewing the plea to the public to report marihuana grow-operations due to the risks they pose.
ALERT’s Green Teams, made up of Calgary Police Service (CPS), Edmonton Police Service (EPS) and RCMP members, is familiar with the risks of grow-operations but state that the hash oil extraction process presents a whole new level of danger due to their use of highly flammable chemicals such as butane gas and isopropyl alcohol.
“The hash oil extraction process is extremely dangerous for residents, neighbours, and first responders,” said Sgt. Dwayne Karpo of Green Team North. “We are seeing people try to emulate the process by watching videos on the internet but in some cases the results have been deadly.”
Hash oil is made using the byproduct of a marihuana plant, with the leaves and stems being soaked in butane gas or isopropyl alcohol to extract the potent cannabinoid-containing resin. The process is very dangerous and has led to several explosions and fires in the past year. In May 2013, an explosion at an Evansburg extraction lab killed one man, left another man seriously injured, and completely leveled the home.
This past July an extraction lab explosion occurred in northwest Calgary’s Royal Oak neighbourhood. The force of the explosion shook through the house and buckled the garage door on a quiet cul-de-sac with children playing nearby. Firefighters first on-scene thought they found pipe bombs in the garage, which turned out to be homemade extraction filters.
“Extraction labs pose an increased risk to public safety, as well as emergency first responders,” said Fire Marshal Tom Karpa, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services. “The volume of volatile and flammable liquids stored in an extraction lab generally far exceeds the allowable amount for a residential occupancy, greatly increasing the risk of fire and explosion. Firefighters are not expecting these types of volatiles when they respond to an event at a residential occupancy.”
The demand for hash oil, or cannabis resin, is attributed to the proliferation to the electronic cigarettes. Users report a more intense high than marihuana and it is more discreet with almost no odour.
In addition to the normal signs of marihuana grow-operations, which can be found here: www.alert-ab.ca/growops, hash oil extraction labs also produce an odour that is quite pronounced. If you suspect a marihuana grow operation in your community, contact police or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).