It has come to our attention that many are purchasing butane-based lighter fluids to make backyard cannabis concentrates, and manufacturing indoors with volatile solvents, causing explosions and fires. Qualified patients can use and make hashish legally under state law. However, the Bergen decision (2008) determined that using butane to make hash oil is not covered by the medical use statutes. California Health and Safety Code Section 11379.6(a) makes it unlawful to engage in the chemical extraction of a substance as part of the process of manufacturing a controlled substance. The charge carries a prison sentence of 3-7 years and a fine of up to $50,000.
Several explosions and fires have been reported due to BHO extractions done indoors with open-air blasting methods. Recently, a 2-year-old child had to be helicoptered from Eureka to Sacramento for medical treatment after a butane explosion in his home caused severe burns on his body. Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather, head of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, wrote in a recent issue of O’Shaughnessy’s that, “Approximately 20% of the volatile fuel in a common ‘butane’ lighter fluid is a combination of other hydrocarbons including benzene, ethyl mercaptan, heptane, hexane, and other toxic impurities. These other hydrocarbons…don’t evaporate as readily and are likely to remain as residue in the extracted cannabis…In general these chemicals are considered neurotoxins.”
Others are using naphtha, isopropanol or acetone for oral consumable products that can be left behind in considerable amounts. Naphtha may contain benzene, listed by the American Herbal Products Association as a class 1 solvent with no acceptable use. CalNORML has consulted with several laboratories, who report they are finding impurities in cannabis oils. Another danger of “dabbing” cannabis oils is passing out after a particularly strong dose. At a recent conference, there were at least three different emergency calls due to use of high-potency cannabis extracts. One person fainted and cracked his nose on the sidewalk, and in another reported case a woman broke her teeth on the floor. CalNORML welcomes input on the topic.
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