PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A medical marijuana patient suffered severe burns to the upper half of his body in an explosion caused by his attempt to make hashish oil, the Washington County Sheriff's Office said Friday.
Nicholas Broms, 22, was in stable condition at Portland's Legacy Emanuel Hospital. The explosion heavily damaged his apartment, tearing out the back wall, blowing the windows out and sending household items across a 50-foot area.
It's unclear if the incident will be treated like a kitchen accident or if Broms will face criminal charges. Broms can legally possess marijuana, but the sheriff's office contends it's illegal to change its composition in a way that places people in danger.
Sheriff's Sgt. Bob Ray said the investigation remains active.
"He's still in the hospital," Ray said. "First things first, he needs to get taken care of."
The explosion happened late Thursday at an apartment complex near Beaverton. Residents of three adjoining apartments were evacuated but no one else was hurt. The county activated a team to remove any potentially hazardous chemicals.
Hashish oil is concentrated marijuana, and its production can be a fire risk because it's prepared using butane. Ray confirmed that butane was found in the apartment.
The Oregon Medical Marijuana Act allows patients to convert marijuana to hashish or hash oil. The state acknowledged the legality earlier this year in a response to a lawsuit filed by medical marijuana user Anthony Beasley, who claims Keizer city police illegally searched his home in October 2007. The suit is now before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Beasley's attorney, Brian Michaels, said this is the first time he has heard of a blast caused by someone legally making hash oil. Without knowing more specifics of the case, he likened it to an unfortunate accident rather than a crime.
"If he's doing something legally, and it's not a dangerous act in general — thousands of people do it, nobody gets hurt — what's the crime?" Michaels said. "Just because there's an injury doesn't mean there's a crime."