Close to 5 explosions at marijuana extraction “labs” have been reported in Riverside and San Bernardino counties in 2016, causing injuries as severe as third-degree burns. The labs have running illegally – and often times dangerously – in homes, garages and other locations across the state as the demand for the strong marijuana concentrate known as wax or honey oil has risen. In an effort to prevent people from running the labs under hazardous conditions, and to provide a structure for legitimate marijuana manufacturers, a law was recently approved that allows the extraction process under certain conditions.
“It kind of takes that industry out of people’s garages,” said Coachella City Manager David Garcia, whose office helped draft the bill. “It continues to make (unlicensed extraction) illegal but also (allows) a safe, licensed process to be in place.”
AB 2679, which will be put into effect in 2018, highlights a strict protocol for running an extraction lab and says patients, pot identification cardholders, caregivers, collectives and cooperatives will not have to endure state criminal penalties if they follow the new rules. The regulations include having a licensed engineer certify the system, ensuring the system doesn’t allow highly flammable solutions to escape and complying with local ordinances.
Since ordinances in the of majority of the Inland Empire that band the sale of medical marijuana also outlaw the production of medical marijuana, licensed labs would be authorized only in Cathedral City, Coachella and Adelanto. Running a lab without obtaining a license and following the new regulations would result in the same fines and punishments that were in place before the law was passed.
Garcia stated that Coachella officials supported the bill after issuing a permit to Irvine-based cannabis branding firm Cultivation Technologies Inc. to build a 6-acre, $24 million “cannabis industrial complex” in the city. In addition to growing and testing facilities, the complex will feature a 9,000-square-foot manufacturing facility where concentrates will be made. The facility’s proposed closed-loop, food-grade extraction system would fall in line with the new law’s regulations, Garcia said.
“It establishes a safe, regulated environment for the manufacturing of cannabis-related products,” Garcia said.
The new law does other value as well, including authorizing a University of California research program to research marijuana’s impacts on motor skills. Furthermore, agencies that issue medical marijuana-related licenses will have to include additional information on denials and complaints in their annual reports.
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