Federal Charges Filed in Two Separate Hash Oil Explosions
PORTLAND, Ore. – Federal prosecutors charged three people in connection with two separate explosions tied to the illegal and dangerous practice of extracting hash oil from marijuana, announced U.S. Attorney S. Amanda Marshall.
“Manufacturing hash oil poses a significant risk to families, neighbors and the general public and is illegal under federal law,” said U.S. Attorney Marshall. “An explosion and fire caused by hash oil production at a Portland apartment complex and a Tigard 76 gas station could have caused serious injuries to unaware bystanders. We will not allow this dangerous conduct to endanger the public.”
Hash oil is produced by extracting the cannabinoids from plant material with a solvent. The explosions are caused by the chemical extraction process in which butane gas is used to extract the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC from the marijuana plant. During the extraction process, the gas can quickly fill an enclosed space, and be ignited by something as ordinary as a pilot light, a spark from an electrical outlet, or someone lighting a cigarette or joint.
Two people were charged in connection with an explosion and fire at a Tigard, Oregon 76 gas station on November 23, 2014. Police and Fire were called to the 76 station at 10775 SW Greenburg Road, in response to an explosion in the bathroom of the gas station. Jose Rios-Soto and Dennis Tapia-Garcia are charged with endangering human life while manufacturing controlled substances, and manufacturing hash oil.
One person was charged in connection with an explosion and fire at a Portland apartment complex on December 8, 2014. Police were called to a disturbance at the complex and found damage from an explosion. The explosion occurred when the defendant lit a cigarette while using butane gas to manufacturing hash oil. The explosion was severe enough to blow out an exterior wall one to two feet. Edwin Stacy is charged with endangering human life while manufacturing controlled substances, and manufacturing hash oil.
“These incidents present a very real danger to the public. In our most recent case one man suffered serious burns and several people were displaced from their homes because of damage created by the explosion,” said Portland Fire Investigator Rick McGraw.
Endangering human life while manufacturing controlled substances is punishable by up to ten years in prison and three years of supervised release, and manufacturing hash oil is punishable by up to five years in prison and three years of supervised release.
The charges in the indictment are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
These two cases were investigated by Tigard Police Department, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, Portland Police Bureau and Portland Fire & Rescue. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Pamala Holsinger and Scott Kerin are handling the prosecution.