After an explosion which burned 22% of his body, Jacob Magley is suing the owners of the hash oil factory where Magley was working at the time of the accident for a sum of $9 million. Magley claims that the explosion occurred because one of the two owners, Jason Alexander Oei, was smoking hash oil in the same room as the production, causing the explosion. The lawsuit claims unsafe working conditions and additionally names 11 businesses as defendants.
The company where Magley worked is called Higher Level Concentrates, located in Astoria, Washington, where marijuana has been legal for a year and a half. The company was using an extraction method on the marijuana called an “open-ended” system in which the plant is placed in liquid petroleum gas to dissolve it. Odorless vapors of butane from the solution can fill a poorly ventilated room, which allegedly acted as fuel for the explosion in this case when Oei lit his pipe.
Magley and the two owners, Oei and William “Chris” West were all in the room when the explosion occurred. Magley and West were both hospitalized to address severe burns. Magley's lawyer, Jonah Flynn, told The Oregonian that the victim was burned on his upper torso and that emergency workers found him with his skin “falling off.”
In the lawsuit, Magley claims that his employers did not inform him of the risk associated with butane extraction of hash oil nor advise him to wear flame retardant clothing. In particular, he cites the company's lack of proper ventilation in the production room, lack of exit routes, gas detectors, and automatic sprinklers which might have prevented the explosion or lessened the injury. He also filed claims against the property manager and both the companies that produced and sold the gas to Higher Level Concentrates. In addition, Magley is suing for emotional trauma and pain and suffering associated with the incident.
The Astoria fire chief said, after investigation, that the explosion and fire were most likely “caused by an unknown ignition source in a butane-vapor rich environment.” County authorities have additionally launched a criminal investigation into the event.
The dangers associated with butane extraction have been coming up more and more as more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana. The unlicensed production of hash oil using butane in Oregon was criminalized, but there are still few regulatory procedures to ensure its safe production, even in licensed facilities. In 2014, 32 hash oil explosions occurred in the state of Colorado, prompting a ban against at home production of hash oil using butane.
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