- Posted by Laura Croft, Esq
- On October 4, 2016
- breaking, cannabis law, honey oil, law, manufacturing, marijuana, MCRSA, Medical Marijuana, regulations, Sonoma County
Following the passage of California state law, MCRSA, AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643, Sonoma County created the Medical Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee to develop and draft a comprehensive marijuana ordinance, which will create a permitting directive that covers the commercial manufacturing of marijuana, in addition to other cannabis-related activity.
Although traditional manufacturing of cannabis plants for medical purposes will fall under the panoply of Sonoma’s proposed cannabis law and Marijuana Land Use Work Plan, recent crackdowns have raised questions about how other manufacturing methods will be impacted by the licensing scheme, particularly concentrated cannabis manufacturing.
In June 2016, at least six properties associated with a local Sonoma cannabis oil producer, Care by Design, were raided in coordinated searches. One of the organization’s founding partners, Dennis Hunter, was arrested and charged with a felony for manufacturing a controlled substance by chemical extraction (a law created for meth labs); and was held on a $5-million-dollar bond in Sonoma County jail. He was thereafter released from Sonoma County jail on no bond and with no charges.
Notably, Care by Design is an award-winning, Northern California, medical marijuana producer. CBD is a bonafide legal business and they have been working with state regulators to ensure adherence with all laws relating to concentrated cannabis manufacturing.
DEA and local authorities premised the Sonoma County raid on an informant’s accusation that CBD used butane to produce high potency cannabis oil to extract active material from plant matter to create cannabis products, such as shatter and wax, popular with cannabis consumers who “dab.” The tip was unfounded and CBD was cleared of any legal wrongdoing.
The Unwarranted Raid on CBD highlighted California’s legal Catch-22
Although butane hash oil (“honey oil”), the product of butane “blasting,” is legal to sell, possess and use under Prop. 215, it is illegal to manufacture. Hash oil, manufactured by “blasting,” falls under the same laws created to crack down on methamphetamine production. BHO’s are particularly controversial and fall under strict regulations because of their explosive potential.
Statewide laws, under MCRSA, will not be fully implemented until 2018; however, Sonoma County is rolling out a comprehensive permitting plan by December 2016. The present state of the law leaves many in the medical marijuana industry working in a grey area. Although there will be clarity with commercial based medical cannabis activity, the ordinance is not projected to address the future of cannabis concentrates production and neither do any local laws. The use of butane gas to produce concentrated cannabis oil remains strictly prohibited under California State law.
The raid on Care by Design and related properties sparked community outcry and an outpouring of support by patients, caregivers, and industry activists, voicing their concerns about the DEA and law enforcement’s unnecessary and aggressive action against legally compliant medical marijuana manufacturers. Sonoma County is conducting extensive community outreach and a “multi-pronged approach to capture all potential interests and concerns” as it develops its new marijuana regulations.
In light of Sonoma County’s promise to take the community concerns into consideration when drafting the new ordinance, it will have to pay particular heed to the community’s voice relating to the manufacturing of medical cannabis. Until the permitting and licensing of facilities manufacturing cannabis is fully defined, cannabis manufacturers should take advantage of Sonoma’s pledge and help define the future of concentrated cannabis manufacturing.