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Ontario seniors nabbed after police suss out $5 million cannabis butane oil lab

Sep 9, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

Charges against 65- and 67-year-old include altering the chemical and physical properties of cannabis using an organic solvent

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A tip from the public about a potential illegal cannabis grow in Caledon, Ont. revealed not only a massive farm, but also a multi-million-dollar butane oil lab.

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The Caledon detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reported in a Sept. 8 tweet that officers were tipped off in July and while executing a search warrant on Sept. 2, the unlicensed lab was found in a greenhouse outside.

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The street value of the weed and equipment was estimated at just shy of $5 million.

  1. Police allege the woman was extracting weed oil using PVC pipe and bottles of butane in the enclosed space. /

    Separate cannabis extraction explosions send four, including two young children, to hospital

  2. The blast and resulting fire at a property outside of Dallas, Ore. occurred on the morning of May 27. /

    Illegal cannabis extraction lab sparks explosion and charges for two men in their 20s

  3. The East Evans fire began in August, 2019 in an apartment complex and quickly spread to the surrounding area, consuming 155 acres and injuring a firefighter who was attempting to get the blaze under control.

    Man gets three years in prison after cannabis lab blows up, sets neighbourhood on fire

According to the Caledon Enterprise, officers with the Caledon Community Street Crime Unit found 615 kilograms of ground cannabis, 109 kilograms of refined weed, 6.5 kilograms of dried buds, 16.5 kilograms of marijuana oil, approximately 500 mature marijuana plants, nine kilograms of hash and lab equipment.

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What charges do the seniors face?

Two senior citizens from Caledon have now been charged in connection with the discovery. Both face counts of altering the chemical or physical property of cannabis by the use of an organic solvent, possessing cannabis for the purpose of distributing, and cultivating, propagating or harvesting more than four cannabis plants, per the Toronto Sun.

The accused are set to appear in court on Nov. 17, Caledon Enterprise reports.

As per federal law, recreational pot is legal in Canada and adults are allowed to grow, from licensed seed or seedlings, as many as four cannabis plants per residence for personal use.

OPP photo of illegal grow operation and butane oil lab in Ontario. /
OPP photo of illegal grow operation and butane oil lab in Ontario. / Photo by Ontario Provincial Police, Twitter

Government information notes that to do so safely and legally, growers must follow all relevant provincial, territorial and municipal laws, including local bylaws, related to zoning, fire safety, electrical safety and inspection requirements.

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Those producing cannabis beyond personal cultivation limits will likely receive a ticket for small amounts, but could face up to 14 years in jail for larger amounts.

Illegal to use butane to produce cannabis

Although the law also allows adults to make cannabis products such as food and beverages at home for personal use, “it’s illegal to use organic solvents that are explosive or highly flammable.” These substances include compressed liquid hydrocarbons like butane, isobutane, propane and propylene.

The amount does not come into play for this offence. Simply producing cannabis with organic solvents has a maximum prison term of 14 years.

There have been other indoor, cannabis extraction-related explosions in recent years, some of these resulting in injury or even death.

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OPP photo of seized cannabis and related equipment from illegal lab. /
OPP photo of seized cannabis and related equipment from illegal lab. / Photo by Ontario Provincial Police, Twitter

Last year in New Zealand, a couple caused more than $40,400 in damage to a house after their bid to make cannabis oil resulted in a massive explosion.

This past January, a 51-year-old man cooking hash oil at a hotel in Sudbury, Ont. received treatment after his clandestine culinary caper sparked a blast. The man was apparently using an induction hot plate and butane to cook up the weed product, according to the Greater Sudbury Police Service.

More serious was the incident in Merced, Calif., where a man was found with serious injuries not far from a blazing and heavily damaged structure that police and fire officials suspect was being used as a marijuana conversion lab. The police report the blast could be felt for blocks and sparked damage to a number of surrounding houses and property.

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And in October of 2021, a massive fire and at least one witness-reported explosion at a suspected weed extraction lab claimed the lives of two people. “It appears that the operation inside involved the extraction of hemp, not dissimilar to that used in the butane honey oil extraction process,” said an official with the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Never too old to land in hot water over weed

The two charged seniors are hardly the only people in their golden years who have been charged with cannabis-related offences in recent years.

This past June, a 71-year-old man from Topeka, Kansas was charged with several drug offences after police raiding his home found cannabis, crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia.

Police photo of illegal cannabis grow found in conjunction with butane oil lab. /
Police photo of illegal cannabis grow found in conjunction with butane oil lab. / Photo by Ontario Provincial Police, Twitter

In October of 2021, a citizen concerned about a suspicious vehicle, its motor still running but not moving, in downtown Brantford, Ont. ended with a 70-year-old local being charged with impaired operation of a vehicle. Beyond being passed out and impaired, officers saw drug paraphernalia in clear view in the vehicle.

Earlier that same year, police patrolling the Pacific Highway along Australia’s central east coast were somewhat surprised after stopping a driver for a random breath test at about 2:15 a.m. and finding out that the 76-year-old man was hauling 36 kilograms of illegal weed.

A 66-year-old man in Pennsylvania, though, likely proved the most cooperative of them all, after he opted to provide visiting police with a guided tour of his cannabis grow-op before being arrested in May 2020.

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