Photo courtesy of Ry Prichard
Oregon plans to enforce a post-legalization ban on marijuana concentrates extracted by amateurs using processes implicated in a series of potentially deadly fires and explosions. The recreational marijuana measure approved by voters earlier this month prohibits the personal production and possession of butane hash oil (BHO), a potent cannabis derivative.
Political pragmatism motivated advocates of the legalization measure to include a ban on homemade cannabis concentrates, said Leland Berger, a co-author of Oregon‘s successful legalization initiative.
“We felt that home extraction was such a hot button issue that excluding it from the adult use law would avoid that pitfall during the campaign,” said Berger, who’s also an attorney in Portland.
Making the concentrate involves pushing butane fuel into piping loaded with marijuana flowers and leaves and then catching the resulting liquid as it exits through a filter. Applying heat can help to eliminate fuel in the process at a safe rate. But, excess butane can quickly fill a closed-off space, setting the stage for an explosion triggerable by anything as minor as a stray spark.
“It blows the windows out,” said Jess Ordower, a co-owner of the commercial hash oil manufacturer Udoxi Scientific. “It blows the doors out. You are going to end up hairless.”
Oregon’s legalization law permits the production and sale of hash oil by licensed dealers, provided they rely on closed-loop equipment to prevent the unintended spread of combustible vapor. Comparable rules are in place in Colorado and Washington state, where legalization initiatives passed electoral muster in 2012.
The closed-loop safety requirement will extend to individuals and groups licensed to grow, process or sell cannabis within Oregon’s planned recreational market. The state is slated to begin granting initial approvals for recreational suppliers next year.
Meanwhile, another set of safety rules governs butane hash oil production in Oregon’s current medical marijuana market. The state doesn’t explicitly mandate use of closed-loop arrangements by commercial producers of medical cannabis extract, but a handful of the manufacturers still employ the safeguards.
One professional grower voiced support for Oregon’s ban on the home production of butane hash oil.
“I am 100 percent all about regulating concentrate extractors to the point where it cannot be done in anybody’s home,” said Jason Wasserman, a second co-owner of the hash oil producer Udoxi Scientific. “We want this to be a real industry.”
Another cultivator, however, suggested noncommercial production of butane hash oil can be relatively safe. Dwayne Blaine, a medical marijuana user and grower, said he prepares the extract in an outdoor area, far from any heat source capable of igniting a blast.
“People who are going to be stupid and blow themselves up are going to do that anyway,” Blaine said.
For medical practitioners, the priority is for hash oil production “to be done safely,” said Camy Boyle, an associate nurse manager in the burn ward at University of Colorado Hospital.
“If you can go to a dispensary and buy hash oil, go to the dispensary and buy hash oil,” she said. “You don’t need to go on YouTube and watch how it’s made and blow your house up.”
What do you think about Oregon’s regulations on homemade extracts? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.