Marijuana extraction firm faces $9 million suit for role in blast

An $8.9 million lawsuit filed by an Oregon construction worker who was badly burned in a butane hash oil processing explosion highlights the personal and financial risks faced by marijuana extraction companies – especially those that perform solvent-based extraction – and the need for industry safety standards.

Jacob Magley is suing Higher Level Concentrates, a cannabis processing company in Astoria, Oregon, as well as 10 other businesses and three individuals for violating workplace safety laws that led to the October blast that put the 34-year-old man in a burn unit for a month, The Daily Astorian reported.

The suit alleges that the Higher Level Concentrates facility did not have adequate safety features such as proper ventilation, gas detectors, escape exits or an automatic sprinkler system, according to the newspaper.

The suit also maintains that Magley was not informed about the dangers surrounding the use of butane and was not supplied with protective equipment such as fire-retardant clothes.

Higher Level Concentrates co-owner William “Chris” West also was injured in the explosion. The company’s other co-owner, Jason Oei, was at the scene but not injured, according to The Oregonian.

Magley’s lawsuit alleges that West was handling butane canisters and allowed butane gas, which is combustible, to fill the room while Oei was dabbing cannabis oil. Magley claims Oei triggered the explosion when he lit his dabbing rig.

An Oregon Liquor Control Commission spokesman told The Oregonian that Oei and West have applied for recreational cannabis production and processing licenses, but that the agency won’t process the application until investigations into the explosion are completed.