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California OKs concentrate labs

California Opens Door to Wax Labs

California lawmakers have made it a bit easier for stoners to get their hands on hash oil and other marijuana concentrates.

California Gov. Jerry Brown
California Gov. Jerry Brown

A new law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October, will allow a small number of marijuana processors to obtain licenses to make cannabis wax (also known as hash oil, honey oil, shatter, and dabs). The law was adopted to reduce the risk of hash oil explosions, several of which have rocked local communities in recent years.

The most common methods of making wax involve the use of highly flammable solvent chemicals such as butane. At least five illicit home hash oil labs have exploded in Riverside and San Bernardino counties this year, a problem lawmakers say they hope to resolve.

The explosions caused third-degree burns, among other injuries, while similar incidents in other parts of the country have led to fatalities. The rapid increase in the popularity of wax across the United States has increased the number of explosions, though they remain small.

Discouraging people from home wax production

Lawmakers approved the new law so customers would have easier legal access to concentrates, making it less likely they will try to make wax at home. While some home processors intend to sell the wax they manufacture, many make it because they have no other way to get it for personal use.

“It kind of takes that industry out of people’s garages,” said Coachella City Manager David Garcia, a supporter of the bill. “It continues to make (unlicensed extraction) illegal but also (allows) a safe, licensed process to be in place.”

The law, AB 2679, will take effect in 2018. It provides stringent regulations for legal wax labs while protecting licensed manufacturers from criminal prosecution under state law. Federal authorities could choose to file charges, but that has not happened in California in recent months.

The rules will require that each lab be inspected regularly by a licensed engineer to ensure explosive solvents don’t escape into the environment. Most professional wax-making operations use expensive machinery that reuses solvents in a closed loop to reduce the risk of explosion.

A safe, regulated environment

“It establishes a safe, regulated environment for the manufacturing of cannabis-related products,” Garcia said.

The idea for the bill came from Garcia and other local leaders in Coachella, who granted a hash oil permit to a branding firm from Irvine, Cultivation Technologies Inc. to construct a $24 million “cannabis industrial complex” on 6 acres in the city.

That site will include a 9,000-square-foot lab for wax manufacturing, along with a large grow site and testing facilities, the company said in a statement posted on its website.

AB 2679 will also pay for a University of California study examining the effects of marijuana use on motor skills. And it will require that marijuana license holders provide annual reports including statistics on denials and customer complaints.

Tell us: Have you ever tried to make marijuana wax at home? Were your worried you might cause an explosion. Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

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