The province of British Columbia Canada has recorded 38 fires while growing medical marihuana.

The RCMP1 and the local fire department have inspected 1,800 legal and illegal places, the results are lack of compliance with electrical and fire codes, mold, and some of them have done some structural modifications on the building without a permit.

The extraction of the butane hash oil is a common operation in this industry that uses a solvent to wash or soak the raw material.

Have you assessed the Hazards and Risks involved in your operations?

Your company might use toluene, methanol or ethanol during the extraction process. These liquids are extremely flammable.

You might use liquefied gases such as butane, propane, and carbon dioxide. The liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is the most dangerous.

There are two types of extracting operations:

  1. Open-Blasting Extractions. They are the cheapest and simplest, but the most dangerous to perform. Why? Because the process is exposed to the ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure.
  2. Close-Loop Extractions. Although this is the safer method because you control the ambient temperature and pressure, it has been found by the inspectors that pumps and other equipment are not fire rated according to NFPA 30 “Flammable and Combustible Liquids Handling and Storage” that is referred in the Provincial Fire Codes in Canada.

Also, it has been found a lack of understanding of the gases and liquids behavior, how to control ignition sources and equipment’s building materials.

Here is a quick questionnaire to know if your medical marihuana extraction process is safe and in compliance.

 

Does your ventilation system is rated according to the local, provincial or federal codes, standards, and regulations?

Are you aware of electrostatic energy generation in your process?

Do you handle and store the solvents according to local, provincial or federal regulations and standards?

Does your electrical installation is rated to perform solvent extraction?

Do you understand the hazards and risks if you use carbon dioxide?

Do you understand the hazards and risks if you use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)?

Do you understand the hazards and risks of your every stage of the process?

Do you have a management of change system to control any modification of your process?

Do you have an inventory of all hazards involved in your operation?

Does your maintenance program follow the local, provincial or federal codes, standards, and regulations?

Have you developed the emergency and fire plans?

Do you have a comprehensive security system to avoid arson or other delinquent activities?

If you answer “YES” to all these questions, you are applying the Risk-Based Process Safety (RBSP) elements; if not, you need support to cover all the safety aspects of the business.

In the end, identifying all the risk involved in all the areas of your business, it will make you adapt quickly to any change.

 

Notes

  1. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/fire-chiefs-differ-on-safety-risks-of-home-grown-medicinal-marijuana/article23400878/