Tag Archives: Drugs

Hospitality Industry Safety Risks: California Hotel Explosion And Fire Caused By “Illicit Drug-Making Operation” In Guest Room; Walls “Blown Out” And Property Evacuated

“…all guests were evacuated and it took firefighters about 35 minutes to fully contain the flames which had reached into the third story and the attic of the hotel…Because of the drug-making substances that had caused Hotel Explosionthe hotel explosion, a hazardous-materials crew and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration were called in to investigate the illegal drug-making operation…”

An apparent drug-making operation in a hotel room caused a hotel explosion in San Diego on Wednesday shortly after 11 a.m. The explosion which happened in one of the hotel rooms blew out several windows and three walls, reported San Diego’s 10News on Jan. 30, 2013.

“An explosion apparently caused by an illicit drug-making process blew out walls and windows at a Midway-area hotel Wednesday and set part of it ablaze, leaving a young man gravely burned and two other people less severely hurt, authorities reported.”

The hotel explosion occurred in a hotel guest room on the second floor at the three-story Heritage Inn on Channel Way, just south of San Diego’s Interstate 8.

The man who was gravely injured during the hotel explosion had apparently lit a cigarette while using a butane spray can to try to extract hashish oil from marijuana. The flame from his lighter ignited the chemical fumes and caused them to detonate powerfully. The man who is in his early 20s suffered life-threatening burns.

Hash oil is made by packing finely ground stems and leaves of marijuana plants in a pipe and pouring butane through it. The liquid typically is then cooked on a stove to separate the butane. Hash oil averages about 15 percent THC, the chief intoxicant in marijuana. A drop or two is about as potent as a marijuana cigarette.

For more:  http://www.examiner.com/article/illegal-drug-making-hotel-room-causes-hotel-explosion-san-diego

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Hospitality Industry Employee Risks: Restaurant Owners Use “Written Integrity Tests” To Limit High Costs Of “Employee Theft And Drug Use”

“…restaurant  owners  must address ethical issues when evaluating job applicants for  employment.  Historically, employers have relied upon reference checks,  criminal background checks and interviews to address these issues…now a growing number of restaurant owners use written integrity testing  to improve their  ability to screen  out high risk job  applicants…”

Employee theft and other forms of counterproductivity are highly significant  factors in determining the success of restaurants.  While employers tend to  have some awareness of the frequency with which employees engage in theft, drug  use and other counterproductive behaviors, the following research findings are  helpful in providing an objective  perspective of  how  frequently  these problematic behaviors occur:

  • The National Restaurant Association recently reported that the cost of  employee theft for its members is $8.5 billion annually or approximately 4  percent of food sales.
  • A study released in 2007 by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health  Administration indicated that the highest rate of illicit drug use occurs among  restaurant workers. A whopping 17 percent admitted to illegal drug use in the  last month.

Extensive research documents that integrity tests are good predictors of  whether an individual will engage in various forms of workplace  counterproductivity (e.g., theft, illegal drug use).  Also, these  assessments do not adversely impact minority candidates, which is a major  downside to criminal background checks.  Further, integrity tests are  relatively inexpensive and can be easily administered online. As a result, high  risk applicants can be screened from contention before wasting time and money on  interviews, criminal background checks and reference checks.

Read more at  http://www.business2community.com/human-resources/screening-job-applicants-to-minimize-employee-theft-and-other-forms-of-counterproductivity-in-the-restaurant-industry-0274014#MbysIc4cypbhdqY1.99

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Hospitality Industry Crime Risks: Florida Motels To Work With Police To Identify And Avoid Meth Lab Operations In Guest Rooms

At the end of the month … police will have a training program to educate hotels on how to identify potential meth dealers looking for a temporary base to cook. In the last three months there have been three drug lab busts in two Motel 6 locations in Jacksonville.

The problem of meth labs in local motel rooms seems to be growing, but there is a renewed focus on stopping the spread.

Fred Pozin, General Manager of the Ramada in Mandarin, tells WOKV they work directly with the Sheriff’s Office to try and seek out the users.

For more:  http://www.wokv.com/weblogs/morning-news-recap/2012/jul/06/stopping-mobile-meth-labs/

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Hospitality Industry Health Hazards: Meth Labs Discovered At Hotels And Motels Force “Temporary Closure” As Tests And Contamination Cleanup Required; Process Can Take Weeks Or Even Months To Complete

Once a lab is discovered at a hotel or motel, owners must temporarily close their establishments while a contractor is called to test and cleanup the contamination. This process can take weeks and even months…If undetected, the poisonous chemicals in meth can circulate throughout a hotel and can lead to respiratory problems, skin and eye irritation, headaches nausea and dizziness. Short-term exposure to highly concentrated meth can cause severe lung damage and burns to various parts of the body.

Authorities say methamphetamine creation inside hotel rooms is increasing as crews work to test and clean the latest contamination closure in Kanawha County. Police and health officials have responded to at least 10 meth lab calls in hotels or motels in West Virginia since January, said Brandon Lewis, state program coordinator for the Clandestine Drug Laboratory Rehabilitation Program. In all of 2011, he said, only two or three labs were found at hotels.

Lewis said meth cooking inside these rooms is troublesome to owners and health officials alike — and it’s a problem that is not going away anytime soon.

On May 18, Kanawha County sheriff’s deputies discovered the most recent case at the Comfort Inn in Cross Lanes. Deputies arrested two suspects and charged them with attempting to operate a clandestine drug lab upon finding a Coleman fuel can and a bottle of nail polish remover, common substances used to make meth, inside their room.

The hotel remains closed until a hazardous-cleanup company can decontaminate the rooms to safe meth exposure levels, about 0.1 microgram of residue per 100 square centimeters.

For more:  http://sundaygazettemail.com/News/201205270138

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Hospitality Industry Crime Prevention: Montana Police Task Force Trains Hotel Employees To Look For Evidence Of Drug And Prostitution Activity

Employees are taught to look for signs such as people who pay only in cash, give false vehicle information or don’t let housekeeping into their rooms for long periods of time.

The task force recently began implementing a program in which hotel and motel employees are trained to look for evidence of illegal drug activity coming from rooms, and to know who to call if they see something suspicious.

The recent arrests of three people suspected of running a prostitution operation in a room at the TownHouse Inn was a result of a tip made by an employee of the hotel to the Central Montana Drug Task Force.

The employee was trained by Sgt. Chris Hickman of the Great Falls Police Department, a member of the multi-agency task force, to recognize signs of suspicious behavior. While it was initially suspected that the three individuals were running a drug operation, Hickman said he was glad that officers were able to shut down the alleged prostitution as a result cooperation from hotel staff.

 According to Hickman, police are pursuing three active cases because of tips from cooperative lodging employees in Great Falls, but an unfortunate by-product of that cooperation can sometimes be a sullied reputation for the business if a tip leads to a publicized arrest.

For more:  http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20111214/NEWS01/112140311/Great-Falls-program-netted-prostitution-ring-relies-hotel-staff-tips

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Hotel Industry Risks: Sprinkler System Extinguishes Fire In A Tennessee Hotel Room Caused By Criminal “Meth Lab” Operation

“…Clarksville Fire Rescue and Emergency Medical Services responded to a fire alarm at the Value Place Inn… By the time emergency crews arrived, the sprinkler system had extinguished the fire…”

“The temperature in that room had to reach at least 155 degrees for the sprinkler system to come on,” Williams said. “We suspected that it was things used to cook meth.”


“…This is the second meth lab bust in a hotel in the past few months…”

A search of his room uncovered a burned bathtub, a one-gallon can of camp fuel and the burned remains of a plastic Coke bottle. There was also a strong odor of camp fuel coming from the room, Williams said. The man had second- and third-degree burns on his face, neck, chest and both arms, Williams said. The man was sedated and transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s burn unit. He man has not been identified, and his condition is unknown at this time.

The Drug Task Force was called in and blocked off an entire wing of the hotel. “We found what was left of a meth lab that caught fire, and it had also injured the subject that was in the room,” said Lt. Jesse Reynolds, director of the 19th Judicial District Drug Task Force. “We removed the evidence, and a cleanup crew was called out to pick up the components.”

For more:  http://www.theleafchronicle.com/article/20110210/NEWS01/102100309

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Hospitality Industry Legal Issues: Medical Marijuana and Non-Smoking Hotels

 I recently had one of my hotels call me about a guest who was burning incense in his guestroom, while he was staying at the hotel. After the guest checked out, he was charged the Hotel’s “no smoking fee” of $250, as the Hotel was a non smoking hotel.

The guest immediately challenged the no smoking fee, and claimed he was burning the incense for “medical” reasons, it was “aroma therapy”. The Hotel asked the guest for a note from his Doctor prescribing the “aroma therapy” and guess what…the guest produced a Doctor’s note. It was a real prescription, from a real Doctor. So, that begs the question….does the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) apply? Do you as an Innkeeper have to allow aroma therapy or medical marijuana use in your non smoking hotel?

The answer is: We’re not sure yet…..

I took this question to the Hospitality Law Conference, which is held in Houston every February. The Hospitality Law Conference is attended by 400 hospitality Attorneys. These Attorneys come from all the major hotel brands, major hotel management companies and includes hospitality educators from all of the major hospitality Universities nationally. I searched out the best hospitality legal minds from our industry to discuss this issue with them.

I was surprised to learn there was no general consensus on how to handle medical marijuana /aroma therapy and the ADA, at hotels. There is no known “case law” on this issue yet, and I received a wide variety of legal opinions on how to handle the medical marijuana dilemma. I have summarized below, the “best practices” for handling medical marijuana / aroma therapy at your Hotel, based on discussions I had with the hospitality industry legal experts:

  1. Place marijuana smokers in “smoking rooms” when available. If you receive a guest complaint of marijuana use in the hotel, you should investigate. If you find the marijuana smoker, ask them for their medical prescription, or State ID card, for legal medical marijuana use. If they have the proper paperwork, allow them to continue in the smoking room (if you allow smoking). If they don’t have proof of the legal use of marijuana, ask them to stop, call the Police, or handle it according to your management guidelines.
  2. If you are an all “No Smoking” hotel, then guests using medical marijuana should be handled the same as cigarette smokers. They must leave the building to smoke. They are no different than cigarette smokers. If they smoke in their guestroom and you have the proper “no smoking” notifications and signage, then charge them your normal smoking fee. Again, you treat them the same as a cigarette smoker. I would recommend if you have “no smoking” signage in the rooms, that you add the words “this includes medical marijuana” on the signs at your next convenience.

 *****Note****, number 2 above applies to guests who are “mobile” and who can easily walk around, use the stairs and elevators, and have no physical restrictions. Most of the legal experts I spoke to agreed, that if a guest has limited mobility, due to a disability etc, then we should handle this guest differently. If the guest cannot easily exit and enter the hotel to smoke their medical marijuana, and they insist that the marijuana is part of their treatment for their disability, then you should allow them to smoke in their non-smoking room. Under these circumstances, the legal experts felt the disabled guest could fall under the ADA laws, due to their limited mobility etc. You should not charge them a “smoking fee”.

These suggestions are based on the opinions of the “best of the best” hospitality legal experts. As you know, the medical marijuana issue is being debated, legalized and defended all over the United States. Call your local Police or Sheriff departments and find out what your local and State laws are regarding medical marijuana. You should manage the guests at your hotels according to your specific laws.

Remember, you also have the right to ask a guest who is smoking marijuana to stop, unless they have a legal prescription, from a real Doctor, to be using the medical marijuana. If the guest does not have the legal paperwork to smoke marijuana, you can make them stop. Call the Police or Sheriff for assistance if necessary. You can use the internet to “google” a Doctor’s name or clinic, if you want to independently verify the validity of a guest’s medical marijuana use.

I’m sure somewhere in the United States in the near future, we will see some “case law” on the use of medical marijuana, the ADA, no smoking businesses and related issues. Until then, I hope these “best practices” help.

(Todd Seiders, CLSD, is director of risk management for Petra Risk Solutions, which provides a full-range of risk management and insurance services for hospitality owners and operators. Their website is: http://www.petrarisksolutions.com. Todd can be reached at 800-466-8951 or via e-mail at: todds@petrarisksolutions.com.)  

Feb 2010


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