California is America’s cannabis basket. Among the state’s tens of thousands of cannabis cultivators, there are plenty of small farmers. And throughout the state, there are an increasing number of makers of cannabis concentrates. And if you were one or the other, you were worried about your future.
Until recently, anyone using butane or other solvents to make hash oil, wax, or shatter – that stuff you dab – risked running afoul of the same drug laws used to crack down on methamphetamine production. And there was no special consideration for small heirloom farms seeking licenses under the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), meaning small operations were going to have to go through all of the same hoops as bigger commercial enterprises.
That’s all changed now. Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the “Cottage Cannabis Farmers Bill,” which created a special MMRSA license category for “specialty cottage” cultivators.
This license, Type 1C, is for anyone with 2,500 square feet or less of greenhouse space, no more than 25 plants for full-sun outdoor, and up to 500 square feet of indoor cultivation.
These licenses will be issued by the California Department of Food and Agriculture beginning in 2018, by which time the CDFA will have figured out how much they cost and how growers can qualify.
And anyone wanting to blast a few shopping bags’ worth of trim from a cottage cultivator into valuable high-THC extracts can do so under clarified regulations also signed into law late last month. Brown also signed a bill mandating “stringent manufacturing and quality assurance standards” for concentrate production – which is to say, cannabis concentrate manufacture is now explicitly legal.
Anyone using a closed-loop system would have to have that system inspected and certified by a licensed engineer, and any solvents would have to be on a list of federally-approved “safe” solvents. As it happens, butane is on that list.
This gives users of solvents like butane, CO2, and cold water some badly-needed legal protection – and also gives law enforcement some guidance as to what’s legal and what’s not.
As we noted, law enforcement was under the impression that rules outlawing “drug manufacturing” also applied to any method of cannabis concentrate manufacture. While there is absolutely a risk posed by unsafe use of butane – to the environment as well as to the health and safety of others – there’s no similarity we can see between making meth and making shatter.
Police are now on the same page, which is why these hash-making rules were co-sponsored by the state Police Chiefs Association.
The exact rules governing cannabis concentrate manufacturing are still being fleshed out. Draft rules will be released sometime in the next few months before licenses are issued beginning in January 2018.
The bill, AB 2679, also gives some relief and clarity to major business operations like Santa Rosa-based Cannacraft Brands, makers of Care by Design and AbsoluteXtracts, who saw their production facility raided in June by overzealous law enforcement hungry for a big hash lab bust. Those products are made using supercritical CO2 – not a drop of butane to be found – so these rules will hopefully cut down on wasteful uses of resources like misguided raids.
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