We just learned of a Canadian man responsible for fatal shatter lab explosion given prison sentence for his crimes on Monday. Presiding Justice Johanne Lafrance-Cardinal sentenced Andrew Ross, 28, of Cornwall, Ontario to 6.5 years in prison for the death of Michael Lalonde. Ross and Lalonde were both tenants in the same apartment building when the explosion occurred.
Ross pleaded guilty to manslaughter, arson, producing shatter and other charges in December of last year.
Illicit Lab Explodes
Ross had been creating shatter in the apartment for months, according to reports. He had been using canned butane as a solvent to produce the potent cannabis extract at his home. An explosion rocked the lab on March 26, 2017, killing Lalonde and causing extensive damage.
After Ross had made a batch of shatter, he placed it in a freezer while it cured. Butane fumes subsequently filled the freezer compartment as they vented out of the extract.
Later, when Lalonde opened the door of the appliance, the gas ignited, perhaps lit by a cigarette. The 67-year-old man was set on fire and killed by the fiery explosion.
Reports in local media said the powerful blast “blew the freezer door completely off its hinges and threw it more than 10 feet away from the refrigerator.”
After the accident, Ross and David Lalonde, Michael’s son, fled the scene. They believed the elder Lalonde had also escaped, they later told the authorities.
Police arrested Ross three days later and filed charges against him. Investigators found 31 empty cans of butane at the site of the blast.
Judge Calls Defendants Actions “Reckless”
Justice Lafrance-Cardinal admonished Ross from the bench for his actions. Her words also serve as a warning to others with similar plans. She noted that the decriminalization of cannabis and its products in Canada does not mean that home labs are legal or safe.
“The decriminalization of marijuana may incite many into believing that any extraction from a marijuana plant and the production of a derivative would be fair game. But it is clear that the production of shatter is a dangerous, illegal act,” said Justice Johanne Lafrance-Cardinal at the sentencing.
“To do the extraction process in a small, unventilated apartment with other tenants in the same building is reckless…to use drugs in the confines of your own apartment is one thing. It is something quite different when your drug production endangers the lives of other occupants, visitors, and everyone in proximity.”
Final Hit: Man Responsible For Fatal Shatter Lab Explosion Given Prison Sentence
Government prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Ross to 6.5 years in prison. Ross’ defense attorney, however, argued for a lesser term of four to five years. The lawyer said that Ross did not know of the dangers involved in creating shatter with butane. He noted that a similar blast had never occurred in Cornwall before, making his client unaware of the perils involved.
The judge decided on a six-year term as punishment for Ross. He will serve 5.5 years for the manslaughter charge, and six months more for creating the shatter.
When done properly, one can make cannabis concentrates in a safe and responsible way. Had Ross been better educated in this craft, the life of Michael Lalonde may have been spared.
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