The State of Oregon has a problem. Illegal hash oil labs have been on the rise and so have the number of hash oil lab explosions and injuries resulting from them, to the alarm of state regulators.
At least three people have died in extraction lab accidents this year, two from a recent explosion in Portland. Another asphyxiated in February when a bathroom filled up with butane.
The state doesn’t have comprehensive data on cannabis extraction but, based on information voluntarily submitted by local police departments, there were at least 25 hash oil labs investigated last year. This year so far there have been at least 19, seven of those involving explosions, according to a report from Oregon Live.
Dr. Niknam Eshraghi, director of the Legacy Oregon Burn Center in Portland, said that his ward has treated 45 patients suffering injuries from hash oil explosions in the last three years.
To stem the rise of hash oil explosions, Oregon lawmakers officially banned home extraction using volatile solvents such as butane and CO2, insisting on the use of a professional-grade closed loop system, a properly ventilated room, and other requirements which then have to be verified safe by an engineer and multiple code inspections.
Though safety precautions are necessary for a product using extremely flammable gas, some are arguing that the strict regulations put forth by the state have actually incentivized black market hash oil labs by creating a scarcity of legal concentrate.
It currently takes an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring an extraction site up to code. Steve Marks, executive director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, told Oregon Live that he’s aware the complicated network of safety regulations have slowed down the licensing process, giving opportunity to black market extractors.
So far, the commission has licensed 119 hash oil labs, but that’s still not enough to keep up with demand.