While increasing regulation of California’s cannabis industry is creeping in with the dawning of legalization next year, extraction laws are easing up in at least one capacity. The Bureau of Cannabis Control changed its rule on volatile chemicals earlier this month, officially designating ethanol and CO2 as non-volatile solvents, as reported by The Leaf.
This is extremely significant for California extract producers, as they are potentially subject to laws concerning the manufacture of controlled substance with volatile chemicals. These laws, contained in Health and Safety Code section 11379.6, were created to penalize the operators of methamphetamine laboratories, but have been used frequently to sentence hash oil producers, sometimes giving them up to three to seven years of prison time.
The statute goes after non-licensed or non-compliant hash labs using butane, an extremely volatile chemical which has caused numerous damaging, and sometimes deadly, explosions. But it has also been applied to hash oil operators who use other solvents including CO2 and ethanol, two chemical compounds which are not explosive.
The recent change in regulation leaves butane and other chemicals, including isopropyl alcohol, as volatile solvents, though the Leaf notes that “the new rule creates a legal analogy for the defense in that rubbing alcohol is not much more volatile than hard liquor.”
The change to section 5000(k) of the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s California Code of Regulations reads:
“‘Nonvolatile solvent’ means any solvent used in the extraction process that is not a volatile solvent. For purposes of this division, a nonvolatile solvent includes carbon dioxide (CO2) used for extraction and ethanol used for extraction or post-extraction processing.”
“These regulations have provided the clarification we sought regarding what is and is not a volatile solvent in the creation of cannabis concentrate,” attorney Ashley Bargenquast, a Compliance Associate at Tully & Weiss Attorneys at Law, told The Leaf.