By Amanda Reiman
Recently, a colleague of mine, working on medical marijuana for the state of Utah, asked me about BHO. It seems that lawmakers in Utah want to only allow chemical concentrate extraction via ethanol and CO2. Her question was simple, is there a reason we need to allow butane extracts? I honestly had no answer for her. When it comes to other aspects of marijuana regulation, the industry is not shy about expressing their needs. Cultivation, edible production and product distribution are part of public discourse and questions such as indoor or outdoor? What is a dose? What is child proof packaging?
What is appropriate advertising? Are all batted about with those from the industry side speaking up loud and clear. But where are the concentrate makers? Where are the articles about butane and why it is a preferred method? Where are the concentrate manufacturing best practices? Right now, the media owns this issue. Stories of explosions in neighborhoods are becoming the last desperate shred of reefer madness. Combine this with the public image of concentrate consumption (think 20 year olds with a dab rig and blow torch), and it is understandable why those involved in this aspect of the industry might be shy about coming out. Add on the fact that many state drug laws include increased penalties for manufacturing in a residential area. Originally developed to combat meth labs, these policies, along with their long sentences, have been used to go after cannabis concentrate producers. But, left to the policy makers and the media, concentrate production will be relegated to methods such as agitation and limited chemical extraction. Maybe this is ok. Maybe we don’t need butane extraction. I honestly don’t know.
But, I do know that, until the dispensary owners came out of the shadows the public believed dispensaries to be dirty, dens of iniquity. That is no longer the case. Before farmers came out and opened their land to the public, they were all assumed to be cartel leaders with no respect for the environment. That too has changed. So, where are the concentrate makers? Where are the responsible actors willing to bravely face transparency and stand up for their methods and product? The public needs to better understand the process, the methods and the steps that can be taken to minimize risk. The case also needs to be made for butane as a necessary and effective method of extraction. Until that happens, the harms of methods like butane extraction will continue to be at the mercy of the politicians and the media, with no direction from the experts.
Legalization is happening slowly yet rapidly at the same time. While the state by state approach may seem sluggish, ideas about what makes good policy are already starting to become ingrained in the minds of the public. There is not that much time to create a reality where butane extraction is the norm. If there are those who want to ensure that this happens, now is the time to speak up.