California Fights BHO Extraction And Illegal Grows


For the last several years, hash oil has seen an increase in popularity. Walking hand-in-hand with that rise in popularity has been an increase of dangerous accidents involving one particular method of hash extraction. Known as Butane Hash Oil extraction, the process is relatively easy to do at home but one small mistake can lead to explosive results.

In California, Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill, SB 212, which increases the penalties on individuals caught manufacturing marijuana concentrate products through BHO extraction. Under SB 212, using the BHO extraction process in a residential area will become an aggravated felony.

In 2014, 32 Californians died from BHO extraction-related explosions. While that may seem like a small number from a statistical viewpoint, random explosions can prove to be problematic from a public policy perspective.

The bill also increased the penalties on individuals manufacturing methamphetamine.

According to California Newswire, bill sponsor Sen. Tony Mendoza thanked Gov. Brown for signing the law.

“This new law will help protect our neighborhoods and schools from those who 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.”

It is important to note that this does not mean that businesses are barred from using the BHO extraction process. As long as businesses follow proper safety guidelines and are properly zoned and licensed, SB 212 will have little effect on the industry.

Another point worth mentioning is that this bill only bans one method of hash oil extraction. Extracting hash oil using CO2 or by using the ice-water separation method is still perfectly legal.

Gov. Brown also signed into law a bill that takes aim at the state’s multitude of illegal marijuana grow-sites.

Introduced by Sen. Bill Monning, SB 165 will allow the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to levy heavy fines on illegal marijuana grow operations. Although California has always been rife with clandestine marijuana grow operations, the number of illegal grows has increase in recent years, taking a heavy toll on the environment.

According to the LA Times, law enforcement officers seized 609,480 marijuana plants, 15,839 pounds of processed marijuana, and 135 dams which were cumulatively diverting approximately 5 million gallons of water. While that may not seem like the most heinous of crimes, in drought stricken California, water theft is no joke.

It is unknown what kind of effect heavy civil penalties will have on the number of illegal marijuana grows but the hope is that the increased fines will at the very least incentivize would-be marijuana growers to pursue legal cultivation over clandestine operations.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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