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.


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

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
New Mexico credit union ceases overdraft fees
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico's oldest credit union will ... New Mexico's oldest credit union will no longer charge overdraft fees to members.
2
Visit Albuquerque leader: Business travel recovery could take years
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque saw its fair share of ... Albuquerque saw its fair share of leisure travelers over the summer, but business travel to the city ...
3
Regents, city council give approval for south campus TIDD
ABQnews Seeker
The University of New Mexico moved ... The University of New Mexico moved a step closer to launching a massive development project on its south campus, which school officials envision will ...
4
Pecos River faces water shortages
ABQnews Seeker
Farmers growing alfalfa, corn and cotton ... Farmers growing alfalfa, corn and cotton in the arid Pecos River Basin of eastern New Mexico do so in a region known for extreme ...
5
NM preparing to roll out COVID-19 vaccine for younger ...
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico is preparing to start ... New Mexico is preparing to start giving COVID-19 vaccine shots to children between ages 5 to 11, with the state set to receive 24,600 ...
6
In Pictures: Scenic Views, Vintage Train
ABQnews Seeker
Tourists from all over the country ... Tourists from all over the country come to the small towns of Chama, New Mexico, and Antonito, Colorado, to ride the 140-year-old narrow gauge ...
7
UNM regents give up power over purchasing
ABQnews Seeker
Administration given the power to make ... Administration given the power to make decisions
8
Televised mayoral debate gets personal
ABQnews Seeker
Gonzales accuses Keller of 'serious misconduct,' ... Gonzales accuses Keller of 'serious misconduct,' mayor denies allegations
9
ABQ stadium bond question is botched
ABQnews Seeker
Ballot correctly describes gross receipts tax ... Ballot correctly describes gross receipts tax issue, then mislabels it as GO bond