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Cannabis plant explosion seriously injures two in US

20 October 2020

An explosion at a cannabis factory in New Mexico, US seriously injured two workers on October 15. The blast happened at a manufacturing facility belonging to New MexiCann Natural Medicine in the city of Santa Fe and was the second incident in the last five years to injure workers at the plant.

New Mexico’s Department of Health (DOH) said that two employees at the facility were transported to hospital by air ambulance and that both were in serious conditions. Their identities have not been made public. Local news reported that both workers were currently in intensive care units at a Denver hospital.

Santa Fe City Fire Department, the DOH and OSHA have all opened investigations into the explosion after officials obtained search warrants to access camera footage from several areas at the cannabis facility.

Preliminary reports say that the blast happened near chemical extraction equipment at the New MexiCann Natural Medicine facility. The workers are reported to have suffered burns to their heads and torsos. New MexiCann’s approval to manufacture cannabis-derived products was rescinded shortly after the blast, the DOH said in a statement.

The incident comes five years after another explosion at the same facility which also severely injured two workers. The employees had been extracting THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, as part of a process that involves soaking cannabis with butane and then heated.

The company was fined $13,500 by OSHA and cited for 12 “serious” violations in relation to workplace health and safety.
More recently in May 2020, there was an explosion and fire at an unrelated cannabis oil factory in Los Angeles, California in which over 230 firefighters responded to. The incident was classed as a major incident after 12 firefighters were injured by a secondary explosion.

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