OTTAWA - A Canadian Armed Forces member in British Columbia has been charged with allegedly operating an illegal marijuana-oil extraction lab, which police in other jurisdictions have linked to a number of dangerous home fires and explosions.

The charges against Master Cpl. Joshua Alexander of the 407 Maritime Patrol Squadron in Comox, B.C., come after military police executed a search warrant on the full-time military member's home in nearby Lazo in July, according to the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service.

Once inside, military police found two grams of psilocin and psilocybin — or magic mushrooms — as well as nearly 1.5 kilograms of marijuana. They also found butane and propane canisters and other equipment typically associated with extracting cannabis oil.

The house was then sealed and another search warrant was obtained and executed, which led to Alexander being charged Friday with one count of altering the chemical or physical properties of cannabis using an organic solvent and one count of possession of a controlled substance.

"Activities such as the possession and production of illegal drugs are extremely damaging to the health and welfare of our community, and will not be tolerated," Lt.-Cmdr. Bryan MacLeod of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service said in a statement.

"These charges reflect our ongoing commitment to conduct professional national level drug enforcement investigations in order to ensure those responsible are brought to justice and maintain a safe and secure environment for all CAF personnel."

Authorities in Canada and the United States have been raising red flags about the dangers of trying to extract marijuana oil at home following several fires and explosions, including two in Edmonton earlier this year.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says such fires have killed at least 19 people and injured 126 more in California alone since 2014.

Such labs often seek to extract tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, from cannabis to produce highly concentrated oil that goes by a number of names such as "shatter" or "honey oil."

Such oil can contain three times as much THC as fresh or dried marijuana and its production can be lucrative.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov. 22, 2019.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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