Puyallup man charged in marijuana lab explosion

Staff writerMay 22, 2014 

A Puyallup man charged with exploding a marijuana drug lab outside his home told police he was working for a local medical marijuana company, according to court documents.

Seth Cleek, 20, pleaded not guilty Thursday to unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance and first-degree reckless burning.

Although police detained four people after Tuesday’s explosion, Pierce County prosecutors only charged Cleek.

Cleek claimed to work for a business that sells edibles to medical marijuana patients. He said his boss taught him how to extract hash oil from marijuana and would regularly bring the pot and butane lighter fluid canisters necessary for the process to the Puyallup house where Cleek lived with nine others.

Cleek was paid $10 per tube and the business sold the oil for $25 to $75 per gram, according to charging papers.

The business owner could not immediately be reached for comment.

Police and firefighters were called to the house Tuesday night after a loud explosion destroyed a pop-up canopy in front of the home where Cleek allegedly extracted the hash oil.

Several smaller explosions followed as hundreds of butane canisters blew up and were propelled up to 100 feet from the house. The blaze damaged the home and destroyed the canopy and a car parked in the driveway.

Nobody was injured.

Police said they found a pile of marijuana, empty butane bottles and other items used in the extraction process scattered around the home.

Even if Cleek was working for a business licensed to sell medical marijuana, prosecutors said his actions were illegal.

“Alcohol is legal but that doesn't mean you can set up a commercial moonshine operation in your home. Marijuana is legal but that doesn’t mean you can set up a THC manufacture in your home,” Prosecutors Mark Lindquist said.

Lindquist said more people could be charged in the future.

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