Marijuana concentrates represent one of the hottest segments of the nation's growing fascination with retail cannabis.
At Los Angeles dispensaries butane-extracted products such as wax, dabs, shatter, and butane honey oil are sometimes best-sellers. That's because they give users a potent high and can be used with discreet, e-cigarette-style vaporizers.
But the extraction process is dangerous. Butane is essentially sprayed on low-grade marijuana in order to create these concentrates. And butane is highly flammable. Extraction-lab explosions have become the new meth-lab explosions in the Golden State.
A bill by state Sen. Tony Mendoza of Southeast L.A. would make extracting concentrates at home a very risky proposition.
His bill, SB 212, was unanimously approved by the Senate yesterday. It would add an "aggravating factor" to the cases of those convicted of making concentrates in California.
If the extraction lab was within "300 feet of an occupied residence or any structure where another person was present at the time the offense was committed" the factor would mandate a longer sentence, according to an analysis by Mendoza's office.
Current law says that such drug makers should face three to seven years behind bars. The lawmaker's bill would press judges to lean toward seven years.
"BHO manufacturing explosion can severely damage or destroy the place of manufacturing, severely damage nearby structures and injure or kill nearby persons," Mendoza's analysis says. "Where property is damaged or persons are injured or killed, additional charges and penalties would apply"
It seems like Mendoza's proposal would make it very difficult to make concentrates indoors.
More than a decade ago the office of the California Attorney General ruled that concentrates qualify as legit medical marijuana products.
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"It is imperative that we protect our neighborhoods and schools from those who choose to manufacture illegal drugs," Mendoza said. "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's legislation would also apply to those convicted of operating a meth lab within 200 feet of an occupied building.
The bill still needs approval by the full legislature and by Gov. Jerry Brown to become law.