OR: Illegal cannabis extraction lab sparks explosion and charges for two men in their 20s

Leader Post News –

Subsequent warrants in Oregon reveal cannabis products, including butane hash oil estimated to be worth $121,000.

It didn’t take long for deputies with Oregon’s Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) to figure out that an illegal cannabis extraction lab, located close to an occupied residence, was the source of a big explosion that attracted the authorities.

Jameel Fabela, 29, and Joel Nielsen, 21, were arrested and charged with an arson incident to manufacture a cannabinoid extract and unlawful manufacture of a marijuana item, notes a PCSO statement posted on Facebook.

The blast and resulting fire at a property outside of Dallas, Ore. occurred on the morning of May 27. Upon investigating, the deputies quickly learned the explosion and fire took place inside an illegal cannabis extraction lab within a greenhouse near an occupied residence.

Following the explosion, detectives executed multiple warrants over the next six days, seizing lab production equipment, other evidence and illegal cannabis products. The last included “a shipping container filled with illegal marijuana product” and numerous jars of finished butane hash oil (BHO) having an estimated value of US$100,000 ($121,000).

One comment to the Facebook post expressed how lucky it was that the fire did not spread beyond the structure. “Wow close call, it could have easily spread to all that grass.”

Both medicinal and recreational cannabis are legal in Oregon. Despite adults 21 years and older being able to buy, possess and use marijuana, there are limits regarding how much a person can have on them in private and in public.

“Manufacture of any amount of marijuana is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to US$1,250,” according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). The punishment does not apply for home gardens containing four or fewer plants and that are “licensed production sites and medical marijuana grow sites,” NORML adds.

In its post, PCSO emphasized “the illegal, unlicensed and poorly constructed extraction labs pose a significant risk to the public.”

In mid-May of 2020, firefighters responding to a commercial building fire in downtown Los Angeles were engulfed in a “massive fireball” explosion that sent 11 workers to hospital. The blast reportedly occurred at an unlicensed supplier of butane honey oil, Newsweek reported at the time.

A few months later in September of 2020, an Ontario man suffered severe burns while apparently trying to cook up a cannabis product in his residence. He was later charged with arson.

And back in 2018, the RCMP raided a “large-scale” illegal cannabis and extract operation in B.C. Altering cannabis using organic solvents such as butane, which are explosive, is prohibited, the police noted.

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