One of two young men injured in an explosion at a Santa Fe medical cannabis dispensary in 2015 is suing his former employer, New Mexicann Natural Medicine Inc.
The explosion occurred while Nick Montoya was using butane to extract THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, marijuana’s psychoactive compound, to create butane honey oil, a highly concentrated cannabis oil that sells for $50 per gram, four or five times the price of a gram of cannabis flower, according to Montoya’s lawsuit.
The extraction process went awry when a puddle of spilled butane in which Montoya was standing caught fire, according to his complaint, “resulting in a massive explosion filling the room with a large fireball, separating the roof from the building,” and causing significant injuries to Montoya and his then co-worker Mark Aaron Smith.
Montoya, 29 at the time, and Smith, then 28, were rushed to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital.
Montoya was the more seriously injured of the two. He suffered third-degree burns to a high percentage of his body, had a prolonged stay in the intensive care unit and needed multiple skin graphs, according to the complaint filed Thursday in state District Court in Santa Fe.
“He’s doing remarkably well considering the trauma he suffered,” Montoya’s attorney, Ronald Archibeque, said Thursday. He has severe scarring on his arms, chest, legs and face, the lawyer said, and is also having some “cognitive issues” related to the explosion.
Montoya alleges in his complaint that he did not have the proper clearances, training, equipment or emergency protocols to be performing the dangerous extraction procedure he was asked to perform.
He seeks an unspecified amount of actual and punitive damages in the complaint.
Montoya’s co-worker, Mark Aaron Smith, about a year ago filed a similar complaint against New Mexicann Natural Medicine, one of the first medical marijuana producers in the state.
That complaint, which also names Montoya as a defendant, is still pending.
No one answered the phone at the dispensary Thursday, and a message left seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Contact Phaedra Haywood at 505-986-3068 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @phaedraann.com.