After years of being targeted by misapplied meth-lab laws, extract artisans in California finally have legal protection—sort of. Assembly Bill 2679, which passed this fall, puts a patina of legality on many extract procedures, if a raft of certain protocols are followed.
The law has been welcomed as a stopgap until manufacturers can obtain legal licenses in 2018 once Prop 64, the legalization measure passed in November, and the legislature’s accompanying Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act are fully implemented.
But while AB 2679 offers some much needed guidance on the controversial manufacture of extracts—especially those involving potential explosives like butane—the measure only covers a fraction of people who could benefit from a path to legality.
“We pursued this particular issue because it was something that we really didn’t address at all in MCRSA. Had we known more about manufacturing at the time, we would have,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood, who represents the Emerald Triangle and helped write AB 2679.
The new law requires collectives to use solventless or nonflammable, nontoxic solvent techniques that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act recognizes as safe; to use those solvents in a closed loop extraction system to reduce off-gassing and explosion risks; to have approval from local fire officials; to satisfy fire, building, and safety codes under state, federal, or international standards; to have a seller’s permit from the California Board of Equalization; and to have authorization from their city or county, while complying with local manufacturing laws.
“Manufacturing still had been one of those things that law enforcement was going after, and understandably,” Wood said. “There isn’t a week that goes by that someone is using butane as an extraction solvent and blows something up.” On the other hand, folks who have been using carbon dioxide for extraction in responsible settings had been getting caught up with law enforcement, too, he added. “What we’re trying to do here is create an avenue for this to be done in a safe manner.”
AB 2679 isn’t a protection in and of itself, notes Tiffany Wu, an attorney with Harris Bricken/Canna Law Group, but rather functions as an “added protection” for people already protected under Senate Bill 420, which authorizes medical-marijuana collectives and cooperatives.
Still, some think AB 2679 doesn’t go far enough.
“It solves one piece of the problem and leaves the rest hanging out here,” said Chris Conrad, a court-qualified expert witness on cannabis.
Only medical collectives and cooperatives are protected, if and only if, their localities authorize manufacturing to begin with; meanwhile individuals, non-medical users and those who live outside extract-friendly jurisdictions are left out.
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