Property Owners Face Unexpected Hazard

Last Updated: February 14, 2014By Tags: , ,

smoke free building signProperty owners in Colorado are facing unexpected fallout from the state’s recent pot legalization rules: explosions.

There have been a number of recent reports of explosions caused by residents attempting to extract hash oil from marijuana plants. This process requires the use of butane and other volatile chemicals.

The problem has become so pronounced that it prompted the Colorado Information Analysis Center to post a bulletin to first responders warning of the increasingly widespread practice of butane hash oil extraction. According to CIAC, the recent trend of explosions has resulted in fires, burns, broken windows, and damaged walls.

Signs of hash oil extraction can be subtle, and include metal, glass, or PVC piping that is capped. These materials look like pipe bombs. Explosions from hash oil production are often mistaken for meth lab explosions. CIAC warns that in states like Colorado with legalized marijuana use, these incidents appear to be increasing.

Colorado is the only state that regulates the production of hash oil but enforcement is spotty, and explosions persist, according to the CIAC.

Butane gas is the most common chemical used for extraction, but hash oil can also be created by boiling the cannabis in a solvent, which then evaporates leaving behind the oil. Other common solvents include hexane, isopropyl alcohol, ethanol, and dry ice.

The problems result from the use of these flammable solvents, typically without proper ventilation. Resulting vapors stay low to the floor, and can ignite pilot lights, outlets or any open flame.

Rental property owners can protect their properties from such practices by taking care when screening tenants, staying clear of “cash-only” applicants, those with poor credit, and tenants with criminal backgrounds. Restricting marijuana in rental properties is another avenue that can provide legal recourse for landlords. Use a lease that is tough on crime. Frequent inspections of the rental also can lower the likelihood of problems.

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