Hash oil explosion gets Vail Valley man up to six years in prison for arson
Ryne Wilhelmi, a 26-year-old man who caused an explosion at his home in Eagle-Vail while concentrating marijuana into hash oil, pleaded guilty on Jan. 9 to fourth degree arson. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 10, and he faces a maximum of six years in prison.
On April 29, 2015, Wilhelmi was processing the hash oil on his patio through a process that combines butane and marijuana inside a metal tube, creating a product with highly enhanced THC levels.
Wilhelmi told the Vail Daily at the time of his arrest that a valve on his extractor failed, causing him to jump back. When he did, he said, the static electricity in his hoodie ignited the highly flammable butane gas.
A release from the District Attorney’s Office said that Wilhelmi suffered severe burns on his arms and legs and that witnesses reported the force of the explosion sent him flying backwards through the air.
He had been using a closed-loop hash oil extraction system, which was legal in Colorado at the time, although not in residential areas, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office told the Vail Daily.
In July 2015, however, a new Colorado law went into effect that banned unlicensed individuals from using flammable liquids or compressed gasses for hash oil extraction, in part due to a rash of explosions throughout the state. Fire officials say there have been 74 hash oil processing fires and explosions since 2013.
According to the release, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office recovered 12 pounds of marijuana and .29 pounds of marijuana concentrate in various stages of processing in Wilhelmi’s home. The explosion caused damage to the exterior of the residence but no one other than Wilhelmi was injured.
Wilhelmi was initially charged with reckless endangerment, a Class 2 misdemeanor; criminal mischief, a Class 6 felony; first degree arson, a Class 3 felony; and offenses relating to marijuana and marijuana concentrate, a Class 3 felony.
The plea agreement downgraded the arson to charge to Class 4 from Class 3 and eliminated the others.
While Class 3 felonies can carry two to six years in prison, another man from the Eagle-Vail area who pleaded guilty to arson after his hash oil extractor exploded received a deferred four-year sentence. That allowed him to stay out prison so long he fulfilled certain obligations, such as apologizing to neighbors and not committing another criminal offense.