The New Mexico Department of Health is considering revoking the license of a medical marijuana producer over an October fire that seriously injured two employees at one of its Santa Fe locations, according to a notice.
The department suspended New Mexicann Natural Medicine’s ability to manufacture cannabis-derived products after the fire, which the notice says occurred when the two employees were engaged in a cannabis extraction process.
The employees had lifted a large metal vessel containing a mixture of ethanol and cannabis oil from a heater plate to pour the excess ethanol into another container when one of them lost his grip, causing the ethanol mixture to spill onto the heat and catch fire, the notice says.
The Dec. 21 notice says the department is considering revoking the license on the grounds the producer violated Medical Cannabis Program rules by not using a closed-loop system to make concentrates and by instructing employees to stir the contents of the open vessel during the extraction process without directing them to turn off or cool the heater plate first.
“By lifting an open extraction vessel containing an ethanol-based solution in the immediate vicinity of an active heater plate, New Mexicann engaged in conduct that showed a willful and reckless disregard for health and safety,” Medical Cannabis Program Director Dominick Zurlo wrote in the letter.
The department also accuses the company of failing to train staff how to use the equipment safely and how to perform emergency procedures before doing the work.
This is the second accident involving injuries at the company’s San Mateo Lane location. An explosion in 2015 also resulted in serious injuries to two employees.
According to the letter, the department intended to hold a hearing on the matter “Jan. 4, 2020,” though that may have been a typo, as the date had already passed before the letter was written.
“There was not a hearing January 4,” department spokesman James Walton wrote in an email Friday in response to an inquiry. He confirmed the hearing will be rescheduled.
“There is no additional information at this time since everything is still in progress,” Walton wrote.
The producer — which has been licensed since 2009, according to Walton — did not respond to a message seeking comment Friday.