California Increases Punishment for Home Production of Pot Concentrates

California Increases Punishment for Home Production of Pot Concentrates
Timothy Norris/L.A. Weekly

If you're planning to get in on the concentrated-pot phenomenon by making the stuff at home, you're probably out of luck.

Gov. Jerry Brown just signed into law a bill that makes it even more of a legal risk to manufacture butane hash oil (BHO) or other concentrated marijuana products — wax, dabs, honey oil, shatter — at home.

The bill says "the use of a volatile solvent to chemically extract concentrated cannabis occurred within 300 feet of an occupied residence or any structure where another person was present" will add an aggravating factor in your case and could add years to sentencing.

That's if you're caught and convicted.

The legislation was authored by Southeast L.A. state Sen. Tony Mendoza, who says he was reacting, in part, to a string of BHO lab explosions in California in the last few years. Extraction usually involves a flood of butane used on low-grade cannabis.

In April a suspected grow house in Silver Lake went up in flames after butane canisters inside exploded, authorities said. Concentrated pot has become extremely popular at the city's numerous dispensaries.

"Not only is BHO or methamphetamine manufacturing illegal but it is an extremely dangerous and highly volatile activity that can result in large explosions, causing extreme bodily injury, death and property damage," Mendoza said today.

Makers of concentrates could face a range of three to seven years behind bars under current law. Mendoza's bill would force judges to consider sentences that are closer to seven years when the stuff is made near occupied residences.

The bill also strengthens sentencing in cases where methamphetamine is made in residential areas.

Mendoza's office said in a statement that concentrate and meth labs are bad for our neighborhoods:

Illegal, clandestine BHO and methamphetamine manufacturing poses a significant risk to neighborhoods. The labs are extremely dangerous. The chemicals used in the manufacturing process create substantial risk of explosions, fires, chemical burns and toxic fume inhalation; these risks extend well beyond the walls of the lab itself, placing people and property in harm’s way.

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Should you worry that this is going to pare down the selection of concentrates at your local pot shop? Probably not. Many get the stuff from professionally run labs anyway.

The law takes effect Jan. 1.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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