God Save the Queen and Her Stash of CBD
by Kat Helgeson
In a recent change to state laws in Michigan, residents of the state are no longer allowed to make butane hash oil, a type of cannabis concentrate better known as BHO, at home. There have been a lot of issues and growing concerns about private individuals manufacturing BHO. The biggest problem is others’ safety, and of course, it has nothing to do with allowing people to produce medicine independently.
The media has covered various reports of individuals suffering from an injury because of explosions caused by manufacturing BHO. The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled the process of using butane for the purpose of creating hash oil to be illegal for individuals without a license and labels it as manufacturing a controlled substance. The change in the law comes after a ruling from a 2018 case in which authorities responded to an explosion at the residence of Alexan Korkigian.
Attorneys for Korkigian were moving to dismiss the case under the state’s personal use affirmative defense. The arguments were complex, with testimony coming from expert witnesses such as a chemist from Precision Extraction Solutions who testified, stating that Alexan Korkigian was “isolat[ing] the cannabinoids away from [the] carbon” in the cannabis plant “to increase THC concentration and make smoking healthier.”
Prosecutors went on to argue that preparing cannabis should only involve simple acts like rolling a joint or making a batch of medicated brownies. They then uttered the phrase that baffled me and many others saying, “more complex activities, like converting powder cocaine into crack cocaine or ‘cooking’ methamphetamines, are manufacturing acts outside the scope of the personal-use exemption.”
In what multiplex or world was Alexan making crack or meth? In this writer’s opinion, this case should have been tossed out based on the ignorance of that remark alone. I mean, is making BHO at home dangerous? Yes. But so are many other things that are still legal, such as working on high-performance engines that are like tiny bombs. Have you ever seen a supercharged diesel motor explode? They make a pretty significant boom accompanied by a massive explosion presenting an immediate danger to anyone in the area.
What about making alcohol? Lawmakers in the state seem to love their booze, which can be seen in their approval of bills like Senate Bill 942, allowing for things like businesses with a Class C liquor license to sell to-go cocktails and even delivery of alcoholic beverages by a licensed third-party service. You can even own a still to make essential oils, wine, or up to 200 gallons of beer (or 4,800 12-ounce beers), but making BHO is a no-no?
According to distillate.org, “It is legal to own a still in the state of Michigan, and the still can be used for non-ethanol production such as distilling wine, essential oils, etc.” These stills can and have exploded from clogged lines, pressure build-up, and even alcohol vapors that can be produced when making wine. It just seems like favoritism to me. I don’t want to be blown up by someone making wine or essential oils no more than I want to be blown up by someone extracting cannabis oil at home. So if one is legal, why not the other?
Alcohol has a historically long track record of death, sickness, addiction, abuse, and violence associated with it. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states,
“Excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 95,000 deaths in the United States each year, or 261 deaths per day. These deaths shorten the lives of those who die by an average of almost 29 years, for a total of 2.8 million years of potential life lost. It is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States and cost the nation $249 billion in 2010… Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.”
When it comes to alcohol and violent crimes, the NIH provides statistics on alcohol and violent crime that show, “Of the 11.1 million victims of violent crime each year, almost one in four, or 2.7 million, reports that the offender had been drinking alcohol prior to committing the crime (Greenfeld 1998).”
When it comes to cannabis, these numbers do not exist. There are no existing reports that link any deaths directly to ingesting cannabis. Keep in mind one could die from having an allergic reaction to a terpene in cannabis, choke on it, and as we all know, a bale falling from a plane could theoretically crush you. But these scenarios are highly unlikely. With all that aside, people aren’t reporting smoking cannabis before they commit a heinous crime. Neither are they smoking cannabis and dying from overdoses. This isn’t something that can be said about alcohol or illicit drugs. Try using Google to search the annual death rates and violent crime statistics with cannabis as the leading culprit and see what you get. The results are nowhere near what you would get if you performed searches for alcohol, yet the worst of the two is the one that’s most easily obtainable and socially acceptable.
Don’t rule out making home extractions from cannabis altogether, though. You can still make rosin using a press. But, as many will tell you, it’s just not the same as BHO. Do you think people should be allowed to make cannabis extractions at home? Or do you think it should be left up to the professionals? If you feel it should be left to the pros, consider the scenarios of banning public performance upgrades to vehicles, getting together for a few social drinks during the game, or brewing beer and wine at home too? After all, these freedoms have all been statistically proven to be much more dangerous than cannabis.
This blog was originally written by Anthony Dutcher but has been updated with new information as states continue to change their regulations nationwide. Looking to find your medical cannabis in a state that hasn’t yet legalized it? It may be tempting to drive across neighboring state lines with more cannabis-friendly laws. However, the number of states…
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