Risk of explosion puts homeowners with marijuana growths at risk

Published: November 19, 2018

Updated: November 20, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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A month into the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes, the insurance industry continues to adjust to the changes. We have previously reported on the challenges facing home insurance providers as they seek to assess risk now that homeowners can grow cannabis. In Alberta, lawmakers have expressed concern over a greater risk of explosions and fire in homes that grow pot.

One Edmonton Police spokesperson got straight to the point: “What’s going to happen – and this is just my prediction – is that people are going to do a butane hash extraction at home and they’re going to blow themselves up,” said Sgt. Guy Pilon, clandestine lab co-ordinator with the Edmonton Police Service.

“We’ve had a number of those in the recent past. People blow themselves up trying to make this weed oil.”

Under current laws, the legalization of marijuana allows Canadians to purchase dry and fresh cannabis, as well as unconcentrated oil. Concentrated oil will eventually be legal, but not until sometime in 2019.

Pilon says butane hash oil labs were a problem before legalization, with Edmonton dealing with six of them. Post legalization of marijuana, he expects oil labs to increase as people experiment with their growths.

“It’s butane honey oil, so it’s not hash. It’s a weed oil. It’s a golden- coloured syrup and from that they can take it and create shatter which is a really potent concentrate.”

Butane is used in the extraction process of oil from plant, so a single spark could cause an explosion. Canadians are at risk and home insurance companies are unlikely to payout a claim if an accident was caused by marijuana oil extractions.

“With the regulation of cannabis and the decriminalization of it, one aspect that we need to focus on is public education,” said Calgary police Insp. Kevin Forsen.

“People can go onto the internet and read how to do it. Nobody’s going to post how dangerous it is or very few people are going to do it.”

Forsen adds that butan explosions will not only put the homeowner at risk, but those living nearby as the explosions can be extensive.