Suspected hash oil explosion injures woman and child
A Kennewick mother is charged with putting her four young kids in danger when she tried to make hash oil from marijuana in her home’s laundry room.
Vapors from the butane used in the extraction process ignited one afternoon last December, causing an explosion and injuring the mother and one of her sons.
Lenne S. Parsons reportedly told Kennewick police in the aftermath that she had learned how to make the oil from watching YouTube videos.
The 34-year-old was indicted last week in federal court on one count of endangering human life while manufacturing hash oil and po.
One day after the grand jury’s decision, felony charges against Parsons were dismissed in Benton County Superior Court.
2 federal cases on hash oil
Parsons is one of two Kennewick residents under indictment in U.S. District Court for explosions inside their homes last year while cooking hash oil.
Gabriel C. Schumacher is charged with three counts: endangering human life while manufacturing hash oil and marijuana; maintaining a drug-involved premises; and manufacturing hash oil and marijuana.
His trial is set for July 15 in Richland before U.S. District Court Judge Sal Mendoza Jr.
No one was hurt in the explosion at Schumacher’s townhouse, but a city building inspector determined two neighboring homes were too damaged to live in.
The blast reportedly pushed out the walls of his townhouse 2 to 3 inches, police said at the time.
Spark can ignite vapors
Hash oil is created by extracting THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — from resin secreted by the plant’s glands, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The final product can be up to 90 percent pure, and creates the “high” or psychoactive effects associated with cannabis.
However, the cooking process involves using a volatile solvent, like butane, and the vapors can ignite with just a spark of electricity.
Parsons’ new federal case gives few details into what happened Dec. 13 at her West 15th Place home.
The indictment says she was manufacturing or attempting to manufacture marijuana in the form of hashish oil and intentionally created a substantial risk of harm to human life.
If convicted in federal court, Parsons faces up to 10 years in prison.
The Superior Court documents gave more details of the allegations.
She ‘saw an orange flash’
She was scheduled for trial next month on charges of reckless endangerment and manufacture, deliver or possess with the intent to manufacture or deliver marijuana oil. She had been out of custody without bail.
Kennewick firefighters and police responded to her home at 12:35 p.m. for reports of an explosion and a small fire.
Parsons had been home with her four kids, all under age 11. The kids were eating lunch in the dining room while their mother was in the laundry room making THC oil, court documents said.
“She said at the time of the explosion she heard one of her children come up behind her and say ‘mom,’ at which point she felt the heat and saw an orange flash,” prosecutors wrote.
Parsons grabbed her kids and went into the back yard. She had to be treated at Trios Southridge Hospital for burns to her hands and arms.
Her son had singed hair and complained of pain in his feet, so he also went to the hospital to be checked out, documents said.
After extinguishing the flames, firefighters found a large quantity of marijuana and butane tubes and alerted police.
Seized: Marijuana, griddle, butane
Investigators got a search warrant for the home and found “a pile of green vegetable matter on the ground consistent with marijuana, an extraction tool to extract resin from marijuana, (and) an electric griddle on the dryer in the laundry room with razor blades with a golden gummy substance on them consistent with marijuana resin,” court documents said.
They also seized a box of 12 cans of butane, seven 1-gallon bags of marijuana and a Pyrex pie plate with a residue consistent with marijuana resin, documents said.
In the aftermath of the explosion at Parsons’ home, the city reminded people that using flammable gasses near an ignition source is extremely dangerous,
“The use of them for the purpose of extracting marijuana resin by anyone other than a licensed professional is illegal,” the city said.
In Schumacher’s case, police and fire responded the afternoon of March 21, 2018, to South Dawes Street to find the garage door on a townhouse blown out and the glass windows in the back blasted out. The home is near Edison Elementary School.
Schumacher was arrested after he allegedly tried to run from officers.
Investigators later said that Schumacher was growing marijuana in the garage and was using ether to make hash oil.
Two cylinders of ether-soaked marijuana shavings were believed to be in a refrigerator inside the house.
Explosion could have been deadly
Court documents in the federal case say the explosion happened when flammable vapors produced by the ether ignited, causing an overpressure of the space within the refrigerator.
A deputy fire marshal determined that if someone had been inside the kitchen at the time, the person would have been hurt and likely killed, documents said.
However, his defense attorneys plan to argue that Schumacher suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and a persistent depressive disorder, and was in a dissociative state triggered by the explosion when he talked to police that day.
Schumacher, who was 37 at the time, had no intent to deceive officers as he tried to make up an explanation to account for the day’s events, and as a result his statements were unreliable, the defense said in documents.
Schumacher has been out of jail since he was indicted last June.
If convicted of all three counts in federal court, he is facing up to 20 years in prison. The crime with the longest sentence is maintaining a drug-involved premises.