The Werc Shop continues to innovate for the medical cannabis market and is pleased to now offer residual solvent testing of concentrated medical cannabis product forms!

Concentrates can physically be produced in many different ways and some of these production techniques may use chemical solvents. The use of chemical solvents for the production of concentrates, to our understanding, is illegal in California (a more detailed opinion pertaining to the legality of chemical extracts involved in creating concentrated cannabis oils can be found below and please keep in mind we are not attorneys and don’t give legal advice). If a chemical solvent has been used to produce the concentrate, the Collective may be at legal risk. Additionally, the presence of chemical residues within concentrated cannabis may have a significant negative impact on the health of the patient consuming the product. Dietary supplements, and other botanical products, provided to the general public are required to demonstrate the absence of residual solvents if any solvent was used in their production process. Medical cannabis concentrate producers should seek to establish their products are free and clean of solvents as well.

It is difficult to visually determine if a concentrate was produced using solvents and it is impossible to detect any residues remain with the use of the human nose or visual inspection. In order to address this matter with the appropriate sensitivity required, we have developed a sophisticated method for the detection of a broad range of solvents that may be used.

Using a combination of head-space sampling, gas-chromatography and mass-spectrometry we can detect trace amounts of volatile solvents that might have been used in the production of concentrates. Not only can we tell you if a solvent has been used, but we will also be able to tell you which solvent was used. Our method is non-selective and can detect extremely trace amounts of any solvent that might have been used.

An example of some of the solvents that can be detected:

  • Acetone
  • Butane
  • Ethanol (alcohol)
  • Hexane
  • Isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol)
  • Propane
  • Pentane
  • Toluene

Our scientific opinion on the legality of chemically produced medical cannabis concentrates in California is below.

Disclaimer: We are not attorneys and do not provide legal advice in any way shape or form. Below is simply a summary of literature review we performed on the subject of concentrated cannabis products. If you are going to consider producing a concentrated form of medical cannabis, please properly inform yourself on all of the safety considerations of your chosen method, and seek out proper and formal legal advice on whether you can perform your chosen method legally or not.

There appears to be a lot of confusion regarding the legality of medical cannabis concentrates being produced using butane or other organic chemical solvents. A review of the published case law revealed the following:

On October 21, 2003 then CA Attorney General Bill Lockyer stated that “concentrated cannabis or hashish is included within the meaning of ‘marijuana’ as that term is used in Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (CUA).

However, in 2008 during The People vs Bergen, the question was raised as to if chemical extraction of cannabis should be considered narcotics manufacturing or considered simply the processing of cannabis. The respective sections of interest in the California Health and Safety Code are sections 11358 and 113796.6a.

CA H&S code section 11358:

“Every person who plants, cultivates, harvests, dries, or processes any marijuana or any part thereof, except as otherwise provided by law, shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code.”

CA H&S code section 11379.6a:

“(a) Except as otherwise provided by law, every person who manufactures, compounds, converts, produces, derives, processes, or prepares, either directly or indirectly by chemical extraction or independently by means of chemical synthesis, any controlled substance specified in Section 11054, 11055, 11056, 11057, or 11058 shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for three, five, or seven years and by a fine not exceeding fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).”

Ultimately in August 2008 the court in The People vs Bergen decided:

“Prosecution under section 11358 would be appropriate, for example, if the resin was physically extracted from the marijuana plant through pressure, through a screening process, or by using an ice water method to produce the concentrated cannabis. Similarly, section 11358 would properly apply to the production of concentrated cannabis if the method used was instead by leaching the resin from the plant material by dissolving it in a nonchemical lipid extractor, such as butter. Section 11379.6(a) properly applies where the production of concentrated cannabis is by means of chemical extraction instead.”

Although this case was not about medicinal use, the legal opinion is important none the less as it states that the production of concentrated cannabis forms using chemical extracts falls under H&S code section 11379.6 and not 11358.

This is important as the CUA states the following:

CA H&S code section 11362.5(d) states:

“(d) Section 11357, relating to the possession of marijuana, and Section 11358, relating to the cultivation of marijuana, shall not apply to a patient, or to a patient’s primary caregiver, who possesses or cultivates marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of a physician. “

Therefore the CUA prevents patients from being prosecuted under H&S Code Sections 11357 and 11358. It certainly would be nice to see more scientists involved in legal aspects around many different topics across the Country.

This is only our individual understanding of the law and we make no claim to accuracy of the comments and statements above. We do not provide legal advice; we are scientists, not lawyers. If you have any questions regarding the legality of concentrates, please consult with an attorney for legal advice. If you have other information that might be relevant to this topic, please let us know as we would be happy to update this page accordingly.