Worker burned in Santa Fe medical pot blast files suit - Albuquerque Journal

Worker burned in Santa Fe medical pot blast files suit

SANTA FE — One of the men badly burned in an explosion at a Santa Fe medical marijuana dispensary last summer has filed a lawsuit against the facility and its management as well as the other man who was injured in the blast.

The suit also alleges that New Mexicann Natural Medicine, one of the state’s 35 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, was not approved to do the hash-oil extraction process that led to the explosion.

Mark Aaron Smith
Mark Aaron Smith

Mark Aaron Smith is seeking lost wages and punitive damages for the injuries he suffered on July 23. He and fellow employee Nicholas Montoya were taken to a hospital with serious burns after an explosion and fire that took place while Montoya was extracting the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, in a process in which the pot is soaked with butane, then heated over flame to boil off liquid and create the paste-like hash oil.

Named in the suit is New Mexicann owner Len Goodman, along with Montoya and several others associated with the business. Goodman couldn’t be reached for comment late Friday.

The complaint says Smith suffered third-degree burns to a “high percentage” of his body, which caused a long stay in the intensive care unit at University of New Mexico Hospital, and that he needed multiple skin grafts and ongoing physical therapy. He now experiences pain, suffering and “loss of enjoyment of life.”

Montoya was in critical condition for some time at UNMH. Smith claims that Montoya asked him to assist in the butane extraction process, even though he “was not provided any training on the process, hazards or safety precautions concerning butane extraction.” The complaint says Smith has a background in culinary preparation and was hired by New Mexicann to make edibles for the company.

A large amount of liquid butane apparently spilled out onto the floor and created a large pool. Instead of cleaning it up, the complaint alleges, Montoya began using a heat gun directly over the spill.

Smith then opened the door, as seen on surveillance video of the explosion, when an ignition of the gas caused the explosion that engulfed the room in flames. It’s unclear exactly what sparked the gas.

The complaint says New Mexicann was only approved by the Department of Health for alcohol extraction operations with pot, but not butane extraction. The suit says the company requested approval from DOH for butane extraction operations, but had not inspected or approved by DOH or the fire marshal for operations involving flammable gases, including butane.

The complaint also claims New Mexicann once ordered Smith to remove the butane extractors from the building before DOH officials came for an inspection.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined New Mexicann a total of $13,500 for 12 “serious” health and safety violations that could have resulted in death, after an eight-month investigation that concluded in March.

Home » Journal North » Journal North Recent News » Worker burned in Santa Fe medical pot blast files suit


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Man arrested in Dallas shooting had Asian-focused delusions
ABQnews Seeker
The girlfriend of a man arrested ... The girlfriend of a man arrested in Dallas Tuesday in a shooting that wounded three women in a hair salon in the city's Koreatown ...
2
Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak blaze surpasses 2012's Whitewater-Baldy
ABQnews Seeker
Northern NM fire has burned at ... Northern NM fire has burned at least 262 homes
3
Council-approved budget would up spending by 20%
ABQnews Seeker
Plan includes pay increase for city ... Plan includes pay increase for city workers, rental support
4
As wildfires rage, state says unemployment assistance is available
ABQnews Seeker
Assistance is available for weeks of ... Assistance is available for weeks of unemployment beginning April 10 through Nov. 5
5
Defendant says he shot JB White 'to stop him'
ABQnews Seeker
Montoya takes stand, says SF basketball ... Montoya takes stand, says SF basketball star chased him, was about to 'throw a power punch'
6
'Not intimidated,' Block pitches himself as a fighter for ...
2022 election
GOP hopeful brings combative edge to ... GOP hopeful brings combative edge to governor's race
7
Grandma gets honorary degree for aiding New Mexico community
ABQnews Seeker
She runs Socorro's Restaurant in Hernández She runs Socorro's Restaurant in Hernández
8
States struggle to replace fossil fuel tax revenue
ABQnews Seeker
Budgets flush with petroleum cash put ... Budgets flush with petroleum cash put spotlight on how difficult it is to turn rhetoric on tackling climate change into reality
9
Governor appoints former U.S. Navy officer to state Cabinet ...
ABQnews Seeker
Dye appointed to run state agency ... Dye appointed to run state agency tasked with natural disaster response