Five Major Types of Extraction 2.0 Clarified

By Fritz Chess, Founder/Chief Scientist, Eden Labs

WASHINGTON: I have been asked to respond to a recent article by Dr. Rien Havens in regards to the safety and efficiency of various Cannabis extraction methods. As the founder of Eden Labs, I have worked with all the methods in the article and our company builds extractors for all these solvents and more, for multiple botanicals. In responding, I hope to close a few loops (pun intended) in the issues raised.

For 20 years our goal has been to promote healthy extractions across every industry. Therefore we applaud Dr. Havens for offering some insight into the world of extraction as we can use all of the help we can get in helping the public, as well as governmental and legislative bodies understand the Pro’s and Con’s of differing methodologies for producing and processing any plant, not just Cannabis sativa L. in either of its cultivar’s.

The most controversial part of the article was the section dealing with the alleged toxicity of co2 extracts so I will address that first along with toxicity issues regarding the other methods mentioned.

The most controversial part of the article was the section dealing with the alleged toxicity of co2 extracts so I will address that first along with toxicity issues regarding the other methods mentioned.  It is absolutely true that water combines with co2 to form carbonic acid which can cause oils to turn rancid. This problem occurs frequently in co2 extractions done at very high pressures (over 5000 psi). However, Cannabis is usually extracted between 800-2,000 psi and at these lower pressures, the concern is that moisture will cause low oil yields and pull chlorophyll. Therefore Eden Labs suggests co2 operators reduce the moisture content of their herb below 10%.

As long as this important step is followed, no moisture issues will occur unless the co2 is “wet” when purchased. Most rancid oils have more to do with improper storage. I have been in many botanical extraction facilities (Kava Kava, Sandalwood, Echinacea, Cannabis etc.) and seen containers of extracted oils in open containers sitting on shelves at room temperature. Not good. Note: you’ll notice that Hemp seed oil is always in the refrigerated section of a store. Cannabis oil should be kept refrigerated.

The other toxicity issue was the ability of co2 to pull pesticides and other chemicals out of plant material. This is true as well. It is also true that all the solvents listed as better alternatives would also pull these chemicals. Co2, ethanol, butane, propane and ether are all non-polar solvents. Although they are all at different points on the polarity scale, they all are in the range where oil is soluble in them which means that most, if not all, of these other agricultural chemicals are also soluble in all of the listed solvents. Which brings up a point that should never go unsaid when this issue is raised…all consumable botanical products should be grown organically. That’s the bottom line.

The same pesticides that are in Cannabis products are ubiquitous throughout our food supply. It is hoped by many in the Cannabis industry that we will help lead the way towards a healthier future through better production methods. Any of the protocols listed in Dr. Havens article would be superior to the conventional hexane extraction that is common in the food industry.

Having said that, here are all the contamination issues with the solvents in the article: co2, as mentioned, can have water. Ethanol can have acetone and methanol that form during the fermentation process. Propane and butane can be contaminated with a host of impurities including, but not limited to, pentane, heptane, heavy metals, and what people call “mystery oil” which is pipeline lubricant. Steep Hill Labs has documented this. With proper research, all of these solvents can be procured in a pure form so contamination is avoided.

The final issue was the source of co2 and the other solvents. Unfortunately, every solvent in the article is mostly made from petrochemicals. Even ethanol is often synthesized from chemicals derived from crude oil. It is possible to source ethanol and co2 that is produced naturally by fermenting plant sugars. A wonderful addition to our industry would be a cellulosic ethanol plant that takes waste plant fiber from hemp and cannabis production and converts it to ethanol and co2 to be used for extraction.

It should also be noted that co2 and ethanol have the added benefit of being disinfectants. Bacteria, viruses and molds will be killed by these solvents although molds will not necessarily be rendered harmless. Propane and butane  extracts, on the other hand, will actually attract certain types of bacteria that feed on hydrocarbons. For this reason, it is always advisable to double wash these extracts with ethanol to sterilize and to purge the trace amounts of hydrocarbon that become trapped in the thick oil.

As to the notion that co2 is too costly and inefficient, my first thought was that it sounds like he is describing our competitors! Eden Labs has the fastest and most efficient co2 extractors on the market. While it is true that a first stage hydrocarbon extraction is far faster and cheaper than other methods, by the time you figure in the time of the residual solvent purge and the cost of meeting the safety requirements, all the perceived advantages disappear. In addition, it is clearly evident and more cost effective to build out a production facility with the gratitude of local governmental bodies and the medical sector. This is a nascent industry, it has challenges and we feel our responsibility is to offer a path of least resistance and efficacy for our clients.

In conclusion, we have found that on a cost/benefit comparison, ethanol is most efficient at small scale production. On larger scale commercial/industrial production co2 wins, which has been proven by the hops industry.

 

What’s The Status Of Alaska’s Rules On Cannabis Concentrates?

ALASKA:  Well, Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board has released the third package of proposed regulations and held meetings in Anchorage on Monday and Tuesday. Regulators heard feedback and discussed the rules taking shape for Alaska’s legal cannabis industry. Today, we’ll look at a question related to some of those rules under development.

“Fishboy from Juneau” asks: “Will extracts like BHO (Butane Hash Oil) and shatter be available for us Alaskans? What do the laws look like surrounding concentrates?”

It appears at this point that, yes, concentrates like those will be available for Alaskans once the licenses to produce, test and sell them are granted. But some discussion remains before the final rules take shape, and no one’s been licensed yet. As we’ve learned previously, home production of concentrates for personal use is restricted in several localities to non-solvent-based extraction methods that lack the potential for fire or explosion, so recreational consumers will have to wait for the legal availability of the sophisticated products Fishboy identifies.

 

Person Arrested After Police Discover Butane Hash Oil Lab At Puyallup Marijuana Shop

WASHINGTON:  Puyallup police officers made one arrest Tuesday after discovering a butane hash oil lab at Northwest Best marijuana shop.

The lab was spotted by officers from the police department’s Problem Oriented Policing Unit. The officers were at the business located in the 1100 block of River Road NW to serve a cease and desist letter to the business owner, who had been operating within city limits without a valid business license from the City of Puyallup.

Detectives from the Special Investigations Unit took control of the scene and obtained a Pierce County Superior Court search warrant for the business. The lab processing is being conducted by the Pierce County Metro Lab Team, according to police.

Legal Pot Competes With Dangerous Hash-Oil Black Market

OREGON:  Amy Zimmerman’s left calf was covered in second-degree burns after a Memorial Day campfire accident. To help heal the burns, she applied a medicinal salve made with hash oil.

The results were better than she had expected.

“My doctor was impressed, saying, ‘What did you use?'” She flashed her calf, its new skin pink and glistening. Just a little bit of oil goes a long way, she said, “but it’s an extract from a plant. That’s all it is.”

Hash oil is an extract of the marijuana plant, and it’s highly concentrated. Just like marijuana itself, hash oil can be smoked or ingested, or as Zimmerman’s wound demonstrated, rubbed into the skin.

 

Blasts Blamed On Hash Oil Lead To Federal Charges

WASHINGTON:  The chemical process used to make hash oil — a method so fraught with volatility that police compare it to making methamphetamine — has come under attack by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan’s office filed criminal charges against eight people in connection with recent explosions attributed to the manufacture of hash oil in Bellevue, Seattle, Kirkland and Puyallup. One case involved a massive explosion and fire at a Bellevue apartment complex in November that resulted in the death of former Bellevue Mayor Nan Campbell.

While possession and consumption of hash oil are legal in Washington. However, Durkan said its manufacture is not.

“Under state law, there is no legal way to make hash oil right now. Every one of these home systems is a violation of federal law and state law,” Durkan said during a news conference. “If you’re doing it you should stop.”

 

Puyallup Police Get Educated On New Frontier Of Drug Labs

WASHINGTON: When an unexpected THC/hash oil drug lab explosion occurred in the 1500 block of Shaw Road on May 20, the Puyallup Police Department and Central Pierce Fire and Rescue responded not wholly knowing what to expect.

“We never have had anything like this before,” said Captain Scott Engle, spokesperson for the police department. “This is fairly new on the radar screen in our area. We’re just now starting to see (these drug labs) around here. There’s only been three others known in Pierce County prior to ours.”

But by far, experts are saying this is the most significant incident on record in the South Sound region. Engle said these kind of THC/hash oil operations are becoming more and more prevalent, because people can now easily learn how to start one just by viewing a You Tube video.

Washington House Passes Bill To Allow Hash Sales

WASHINGTON: Washington state’s Legislature has passed a bill to allow sales of marijuana concentrates like hash oil at state-licensed pot shops.

House Bill 2304 also tweaks Washington’s legal marijuana law to allow marijuana processors to sell to other processors. For example, a processor who specializes in making marijuana extracts could provide those to bakers who might use them in brownies.

The bill, which required at least a two-thirds vote to amend Initiative 502, passed the Senate on a 42-7 vote Thursday, shortly after passing the House on a 91-7 vote.

Marijuana 'Hash Oil' Explodes In Popularity, And Kitchens

WASHINGTON:  If you think the recent liberalization of marijuana laws around the country is only about smoking leaves and buds, think again. For users younger than 25, “hash oil” is where it’s really at. This concentrated resin of marijuana is creating new public safety headaches — even in places where it’s legal.

There have always been forms of the substance, but the resins available today are much stronger than in years past. That’s due in part to the expertise developed by medical marijuana producers, who have learned how to make more potent versions of the oil.

Near Seattle, medical marijuana entrepreneur Jeremy Kelsey shows off a sample of a resin that he markets as extreme pain medication for cancer patients. It looks like dark green Karo syrup. Kelsey calls it “pure THC.” [Read more…]

Marijuana 'Hash Oil' Explodes In Popularity, And Kitchens

WASHINGTON:  If you think the recent liberalization of marijuana laws around the country is only about smoking leaves and buds, think again. For users younger than 25, “hash oil” is where it’s really at. This concentrated resin of marijuana is creating new public safety headaches — even in places where it’s legal.

There have always been forms of the substance, but the resins available today are much stronger than in years past. That’s due in part to the expertise developed by medical marijuana producers, who have learned how to make more potent versions of the oil.

Near Seattle, medical marijuana entrepreneur Jeremy Kelsey shows off a sample of a resin that he markets as extreme pain medication for cancer patients. It looks like dark green Karo syrup. Kelsey calls it “pure THC.” [Read more…]

DEA Moves to Create New Drug Code For Marijuana Extracts

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is looking to move forward on creating a new controlled substances code number for marijuana extract.

The extract, known as butane hash oil (or BHO) — and also known on the streets as “wax,” or “dabs” — is jacked up with concentrated levels of tetrahydrocannabino (THC), which is the chemical compound in pot that hits brain the hardest.

The code number set by the DEA would allow them to track quantities of extract separately from quantities of marijuana.

According to the United States Federal Register, the DEA defines it as “extracts that have been derived from any plant of the genus cannabis and which contain cannabinols and cannabidiols.”

While BHO gives the user a stronger, more concentrated high, accidents from cooking it up continue to pop up.