Tag: extraction

What’s the Future of Ethanol Extraction?

This article is sponsored by Capna Fabrications. Capna Fabrications is an industry-leading extraction equipment manufacturer and research facility based in southern California whose mission is to research and develop safe, innovative ethanol extraction technologies for the cannabis industry.

Ethanol is a tried and true solvent that’s been used for centuries to craft tinctures, essential oils, and similar substances. In modern times, this lab-grade alcohol is still among the most commonly deployed solvents, used in products from food flavorings to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil. That latter use is no accident, said Gene Galyuk, chief development officer at Capna Fabrications.

(Courtesy of Capna Fabrication)

“Rick Simpson designed his method around ethanol because he knew that the residual solvent in his medicinal oil would not adversely affect the consumer,” Galyuk said. “He also knew that ethanol was very aggressive at extracting all of the essential constituents in cannabis.”

Today, though the solvent remains the same, new technologies and processes are helping to unlock its true potential.

Ethanol Catches Up

While ethanol is a time-tested solvent, the industry standard today is to use butane or CO2 to create extracts like oil for vape cartridges. But next-generation tools are making food-grade alcohol an increasingly attractive extraction option by turning what has been seen as a weakness of ethanol into a strength.

In recent years, some have viewed ethanol’s structure as a strike against its potential as a solvent. Ethanol molecules have polar and nonpolar ends, making them able to bond with different kinds of molecules on either side. That means that while ethanol draws cannabinoids and terpenes out of the plants, it also brings other players along for the ride.

“There are aldahydes, esthers, ethyls, ketones, and a range of other chemicals that make up the full spectrum of beneficial compounds in cannabis,” said Capna’s principal chemist Erwin Sibal. “Because of the dual role ethanol plays as a solvent, it is capable of extracting the whole of the plant better than any hydrocarbon or CO2.”

(Courtesy of Capna Fabrication)

The downside of a whole-plant oil? It can often look like the whole plant is in there. Ethanol extractions have long had a reputation as being murkier than some of their counterparts crafted by other means, a side effect of molecules like chlorophyll that were extracted along with the cannabinoids.

The Next Generation

New ethanol extraction technologies, though, are placing this traditional solvent in the same sphere as popular extractors like butane and CO2. A system like the Ethos 4 by Capna Labs can draw 98.5% of the THC from a batch of cannabis, while also leaving the extract fully dewaxed and devoid of chlorophyll. The result is a rich golden hue unlike previous ethanol extracts that still maintains the essential oils and flavonoids found in cannabis flower.

(Courtesy of Capna Fabrication)

Operating at cryo temperatures (that’s really, really, really cold), the Ethos system works by spraying cannabis with 200-proof ethanol at freezing temperatures. After several re-circulations over the material, negative pressure transfers the resulting solution to a collection chamber where additional impurities are removed by micron filtration.

This super-cold, low-pressure means of extraction allows users to skip time-consuming processes like dewaxing and winterization and makes it possible to process up to 48 pounds of plant material in just one eight-hour shift. It’s not just fast, though—the closed loop of ethanol extraction makes it a safe bet as well.

“Fire marshals love the design of the Ethos,” said Galyuk, “It prevents any solvent or flammable vapor from ever exiting the system or venting into the extraction room where the system operates.”

Ready for Prime Time

Galyuk and his team were initially using a carbon dioxide-based system to craft cannabis extracts. After a few months, though, they got tired of using ethanol to dewax the resulting product. If they were going to have to keep ethanol on-hand anyway, why not try to develop a process that improved on the ways that solvent had been used previously?

Capna’s first few months of working to develop a new ethanol-based extraction system were marked by just enough successes to make the failures all the more frustrating. “For a very long time, we could not replicate our results,” said Galyuk. “Sometimes we would get a solution that was pristine yellow, and other times we would get a solution that was green and obviously contaminated with chlorophyll.”

After about six months of research and development, Capna’s ethanol extractors were fine-tuned and producing a uniform amber extract on every run, letting them focus on automating the process to minimize the potential for human error. Further improvements lowered ethanol consumption, improved system cooling, and minimized the number of electrical components operating near solvents. Years later, the “proof of concept” system for the Ethos extraction technique is still running strong at Capna’s southern California production facility.

(Courtesy of Capna Fabrication)

Once the system was working at full bore, it was intended for internal use only—Ethos-type systems have been the force behind Capna’s extracts. Now, the same technology is being made available to other producers

“Going to market was a hard decision to make, as it was never our intent for these machines,” said Capna Fabrications CEO Vitaly Mekk. “But we know we have something unique, and it makes us very proud to be at the forefront of an industry that, in our opinion, could benefit from our technology.”

Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Why Did San Diego Declare War on Med-West?

On a Thursday morning in late January 2016, two dozen law enforcement officers sledgehammered open the doors to Med-West and stormed into James Slatic’s cannabis distribution warehouse in Kearney Mesa, a light industrial neighborhood in San Diego. Security camera footage shows officers, clad in body armor and carrying assault rifles, handcuffing and putting guns to the heads of the manager and lab technician, the only two employees present at 7:37 a.m.

The district attorney’s office then began a systematic confiscation of Med-West’s assets. The haul included 30,000 cannabis oil cartridges, 800 infused chocolate bars, computers, business and financial records, and $324,000 in cash taken from a safe. Authorities also seized $100,000 from personal bank accounts belonging to Slatic, his wife, and his two stepdaughters.

“There is no indication … that criminal charges are going to be filed in this case in the near future.”

Judge Tamila E. Ipema, San Diego County Superior Court

Slatic himself was at a breakfast meeting when the raid took place. “I went home and waited for them to arrest me,” he recalled in a recent interview with Leafly.

Remarkably, that didn’t happen. Sixteen months passed, and not a single charge had been filed.

Meanwhile, Slatic and his lawyers worked to recover at least some of the seized property. On May 8, a San Diego judge ordered the DA’s office to return the $100,000 from the family’s personal bank accounts. “Investigations have been ongoing since January 2016 and there is no indication … that criminal charges are going to be filed in this case in the near future,” the judge wrote.

Then, barely two weeks after the ruling, charges came. Heavy charges. San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis filed multiple felony counts against Slatic and his associates. According to a DA press release, the defendants now face more than 15 years behind bars.


San Diego DA Files Felony Charges Over Cannabis Extraction

The criminal complaint accuses Slatic, four employees, and his attorney, Jessica McElfresh, of 12 felony counts, including manufacturing a controlled substance, conspiracy, and money laundering. The DA’s office alleges that Slatic and his team amassed illegal profits to the tune of $3.2 million in 2015 and that McElfresh helped Slatic hide from authorities the use of “flammable, volatile and toxic chemicals” to extract cannabis oil in violation of California law.

“Clearly, after 16 months, to charge us three days after we got our family money returned is vindictive prosecution,” Slatic told Leafly after the charges were filed.

Through her attorney, Eugene Iredale, McElfresh vowed to fight the charges. “It was no accident that the charges came right after the court ordered the return of funds that had been seized,” Iredale said.

Security camera footage of the 2016 raid of Med-West's facilities show law enforcement clad in body armor and carrying assault rifles. (Courtesy of Med-West)Security camera footage of the 2016 raid of Med-West’s facilities show law enforcement clad in body armor and carrying assault rifles. (Courtesy of Med-West)

The Med-West raid, asset forfeiture, and delayed felony charges have left many in California’s multibillion-dollar cannabis industry scratching their heads. The day before the raid, Slatic, now 57, headed up a flourishing cannabis empire. The 35-employee company he founded was the largest distributor of cannabis-infused products in California. When it was shut down, Med-West supplied 1,100 dispensaries and had just enjoyed the best month in its seven-year existence, Slatic said. “Then it all came to a crashing halt.”

A respected member of the legal cannabis community, Slatic was among the founding members of the National Cannabis Industry Association. He was a member of the group’s California and Nevada chapters, a board member of the Marijuana Policy Project, and a co-author of state cannabis legislation with California Assemblyman Rob Bonta.

In an interview, Slatic remained staunch that he followed all laws and operated an exemplary business. “We did everything 100% legit,” he told Leafly last month. “We had the best lawyers, the best CPAs. We were a model for the good actors in the business.”


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Med-West paid its taxes and used a reputable payroll service, Slatic said. Its employees enjoyed good wages, 401(k) retirement accounts, and health insurance. City inspectors cleared the company to operate from a building adjacent to a Mercedes-Benz dealership.

According to Slatic, search warrants claimed that a confidential informant tipped off authorities to illegal cannabis extraction happening on the property. But both Slatic and McElfresh have maintained that no extraction took place on site. Slatic believes the raid was spurred on by other factors.

“It was a combination of my visibility and the fact they knew we were a good-sized company. They saw the number of cars in the parking lot. They knew the size of our operation,” he said. “The mayor’s office talked to us after the raid and said, ‘This didn’t come from us.’”

“There’s no question they were unfairly targeted.”

Wesley Hottot, attorney for Med-West founder James Slatic

A persistent sticking point in this case was the legality of chemical extraction in the pre-Proposition 64 days when Slatic was busted. In California, extraction falls under a 1985 statute meant to apply to illegal methamphetamine production. The statute, passed more than a decade before California’s legalization of medical cannabis in 1996, uses vague language to prohibit the manufacture of concentrated controlled substances—including meth and crack cocaine—without specifying which compounds are off-limits.

“A wide variety of extraction methods are legal in California, including CO2,” McElfresh told Leafly before the charges were filed. “The only method of extraction courts said was illegal was butane, but now that’s hypothetically legal under California law if someone has local permitting.”

San Diego cannabis attorney Michael Cindrich doesn’t fully agree. “It’s questionable whether a CO2 lab is legal under California law,” Cindrich said. “The law that currently exists for extraction only says extraction by chemical synthesis is not allowed. We can argue that CO2 is nonvolatile, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s chemical extraction.”


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In California, “even if you’re following all appropriate laws and rules and you’re properly permitted, there’s still a risk this can happen to you,” added Nicholas Moore, a San Diego cannabis attorney.

Cindrich, who has an asset forfeiture practice, said no effort to comply could have prevented this. “There’s nothing you can show law enforcement that says, ‘I’m legal and have jumped through all the hoops to get authorization to do this.’”

Those who side with Slatic point to the raid as overreach by Dumanis and her office. Broadly, the action might be seen as emblematic of the nationwide misuse of asset forfeiture by law enforcement, maligned by critics as policing for profit. Dumanis, who has held the post since 2003 and mounted an unsuccessful mayoral bid in 2012, is resigning next month. She’s openly considering a run for a seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, pictured here at a 2012 news conference, has publicly said she's considering a run for county supervisor. (Gregory Bull/AP)San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, pictured here at a 2012 news conference, has publicly said she’s considering a run for county supervisor. (Gregory Bull/AP)

“Some people would say this office has shown an unusually high appetite for medical marijuana prosecutions that have not yielded much fruit,” said McElfresh.

Critics of the charges feel the business was unfairly targeted due to its high visibility in the legal cannabis space, noting the significant discretion granted to prosecutors.


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“There’s no question they were unfairly targeted,” said Wesley Hottot, one of Slatic’s attorneys, who points to a common refrain in the cannabis world: “Your business is legal if the local district attorney deems it legal.”

Others have faced similar prosecution. In June 2016, another cannabis operation was raided, this one in Sonoma County. Local authorities cited the manufacturing process, but declined to pursue criminal charges.

Some see the actions as opportune on the part of law enforcement, with prosecutors filing charges before more comprehensive regulations took effect.

“I don’t think we’ll see these in the future,” Hottot said. “We were seeing them in 2016 because police and prosecutors saw the writing on the wall that there was only so much time to target these legitimate businesses before their legitimacy was beyond question.”


Cities Swap SWAT-Style Dispensary Raids for Softer Approach

Regarding the recovered money, a spokesperson for the DA said: “The funds ordered returned by a civil judge were previously found by a criminal judge to be tainted by criminal conduct, however the District Attorney’s Office is complying with the civil judge’s recent order.”

It didn’t help the DA’s case that the one-year statute of limitations was expiring on the personal money. But a longer statute of limitations, three years, exists for seized business assets. Slatic is unlikely to see them without a vigorous legal fight, at least until 2019.

Legal challenges to cannabis prosecutions and asset seizures are becoming more common in California, Cindrich added. Though, “historically people plead guilty because they don’t want to face going to trial and losing. That empowers the DA’s office to continue filing charges and moving forward against these individuals.”

Caption Caption CaptionHeavily armored law enforcement officers arrest one of the few Med-West employees working on the morning of the Jan. 2016 raid.

In a strange sidebar that has not been reported elsewhere, investigators, in Slatic’s view, made the probe disturbingly personal. One year before the raid, Slatic’s son, who had been in drug rehabilitation, escaped, relapsed and fatally overdosed. Slatic says investigators piled sympathy cards he’d kept in his desk on the office floor, and placed the funeral invitation “front and center” on his desk. “That was their way of saying we know about this, and fuck you. They made it deeply personal when they attacked my family and my dead son.”

In an email, the district attorney’s office said it could not address that claim or other facts about the case because the investigation is ongoing.


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A press release accompanying the recent charges seemed to address the timing of the criminal complaint, saying that the “year-long, complicated investigation faced delays both in court and out.” It quoted Dumanis as saying, “We wanted to be thorough and make sure we got it right.”

With its assets seized, Med-West was forced to shut down and to sell a portion of the building it owned. A separate case continues for the $324,000 in cash. If not for the pro-bono representation, Slatic would have given up pursuing the seized money by dint of spending more on legal fees than was at stake, he said.

Even with the money returned, the ordeal has taken its toll on the three-dozen employees who lost their jobs, not to mention Slatic himself. “My cholesterol is through the roof. I can’t sleep through the night. It’s emotionally devastating when when 17-year-old daughter cries to you about how they took your money,” Slatic said.


Justice Department Turns Attention to Cannabis Enforcement

With the criminal charges he’s facing, the returned $100,000 could be a blip compared to the punishment—or at least the high-stakes legal proceedings—Slatic now faces.

Bruised but not deterred, Slatic launched a new company before the charges were filed. It’s still in cannabis, but this time it’s a business that only deals with intellectual property—he won’t touch the plant or derivative products. The company expected to launch a line of cannabis-infused brain supplements this summer, but the charges may complicate that. “I do intend to stay in the industry, even though my consulting business has lost two clients already because of me being charged,” he said.

Slatic promised that he wouldn’t let the threat of jail time dissuade him. “I won’t leave the industry or my activism,” he said. Nor will he drop the legal fight that began with the raid. “They made it my personal mission to fight this until the day I die.”

Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Fearing Hash Oil Explosions, California County Restricts Butane Sales

In an effort to curb explosions linked to illicit cannabis extraction, Sacramento County is taking a tough new stance on butane—one that could soon be adopted across all of California.

Beginning next month, residents will be able to possess only 600 milliliters of the chemical solvent, or two standard-size cans. Retailers in the county will face similar restrictions, with butane sales capped at 600 milliliters per transaction. Sellers will also be required to record the date, quantity, and customer ID for every sale. No customer may purchase more than 600 milliliters of butane per month.

The limits, part of a county ordinance adopted May 23, are set to take effect June 22. State lawmakers are considering a similar measure, Assembly Bill 1120, that would expand those restrictions statewide.

While it’s already illegal under state law for unlicensed individuals to use butane or other volatile chemicals to produce cannabis concentrates, supporters of the new limits note that the number of injuries linked butane hash oil (BHO) production have been climbing over the past decade, as concentrates have spiked in popularity.


Leafly Investigation: How Much Butane in BHO Is Too Much?

According to Dr. David Greenhalgh, chief of the burn division at UC Davis Medical Center, patients injured by butane explosions began showing up at the burn ward around 2007. Since then, he told the Sacramento Bee, the number of patients has grown to about 30 per year, making up roughly 7% of all burn victims. Some individuals are admitted with burns covering nearly their entire bodies and spend months in critical care units.

“Knowing what I know about the process for extracting cannabinoids,” Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna told the Bee, “I saw the need immediately for there to be some sort of intervention.”

While butane extraction is one of the cheapest, most effective ways to produce cannabis concentrates, it can also be one of the most dangerous. The process involves running butane through a tube filled with raw cannabis, then heating the resulting mixture to evaporate the butane. The result is a high-potency, waxy substance that can be vaporized, used in edibles, or smoked.


What Are Cannabis Oil, Shatter, and Wax Extracts?

Because butane is clear, odorless, and heavier than air, it can accumulate indoors without detection. Highly flammable, it can then be ignited by a tiny spark, such from a refrigerator motor switching on.

Just one or two 300-milliliter cans of butane can blow up an entire department, according to Sacramento Fire Department Captain Mike Feyh, who’s working with state Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) to help pass Assembly Bill 1120, which would establish butane restrictions throughout California.

Dabbing often involves the use of a butane torch.

Many have likened the new restrictions to limits imposed on the cold drug pseudoephedrine, found in products like Sudafed and commonly used to produce methamphetamines. After federal regulations in 2005 imposed strict limits on pseudoephedrine sales, the number of meth labs fell dramatically. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, incidents involving meth labs in the state fell from 180 in 2010 to just 47 in 2014.

While the new butane limits are aimed at curbing illegal concentrate production, they’re also likely to irritate at least some law-abiding cannabis consumers. Dabbing, a popular style of vaporizing concentrates, often involves the use of a butane torch. Heavy consumers or medical patients can easily go through Sacramento’s 600-milligram limit in the course of a month, raising questions about how to legally obtain a sufficient supply.


The Best Dab Rig for You

It’s also not clear how effective the ordinance will be at first, given the wide online availability of butane, which is used for everything from lighters to camp stoves to radio controlled airplanes. As the Bee notes, “a three-pack of 300 milliliter cans is available on Amazon for $19.99.”

In 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a measure that would have established prison sentences of up to six years for extract makers who cause harm to others. In a veto message, he noted that the bill outlawed actions that were already illegal. “This multiplication and particularization of criminal behavior,” he wrote, “creates increasing complexity without commensurate benefit.”

Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

San Diego DA Files Felony Charges Over Cannabis Extraction

Sixteen months after authorities used sledgehammers to break down the doors to Med-West Distribution, at one time the largest cannabis distributor in California, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis filed felony charges Wednesday against the former owner and associates.

The criminal complaint targets not only James Slatic, 58, the owner of the erstwhile San Diego business, but also former employees and even Slatic’s attorney, Jessica McElfresh, a well-known San Diego cannabis lawyer. The DA’s office charged 12 counts of criminal conduct, including manufacturing a controlled substance, conspiracy to commit a crime, and money laundering, which allegedly yielded an ill-gotten profit of $3.2 million in 2015.

Filed in San Diego County Superior Court, the complaint alleges that Slatic and his employees used “flammable, volatile and toxic chemicals” to extract cannabis oil and conspired to hide evidence of the process before a visit from city inspectors to Med-West’s property. If convicted on all charges, the defendants could face up to 15 years and 4 months behind bars, according to a San Diego DA press release.

Reached by email, Slatic said his reaction was “Just shock right now.” In recent interviews about the raid and the ensuing legal fight, Slatic told Leafly that he did everything possible to adhere to the law.


Leafly Investigation: California Has a Dirty Cannabis Problem

Since agents busted down the doors to Slatic’s business in January 2016, the raid had become notable for the absence of criminal charges. Authorities seized $1.4 million in assets and cash in the aftermath, but earlier this month a San Diego judge ordered Dumanis’s office to return $100,000 seized from personal bank accounts—which belonged to Slatic, his wife, and two stepdaughters—precisely because there was “no indication” that charges would be filed. Separate legal proceedings are underway for $324,000 in cash taken from a safe at Med-West.

“We wanted to be thorough and make sure we got it right,” Dumanis said in a statement. “The year-long, complicated investigation faced delays both in court and out [and] extensive copying and review of computer data was conducted,” added the DA press release.

Search warrants were also served at attorney McElfresh’s home and office on Wednesday, according to the DA press release. McElfresh could not immediately be reached for comment.


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The complaint alleges that McElfresh hid from inspectors that chemical extraction took place on site and led them to believe that Med-West was only a “packaging and paper company.” The complaint repeatedly uses as evidence an email McElfresh allegedly wrote to Slatic in December 2015 in which she referenced the April 2015 inspection by the San Diego Police Department.

Referring to inspectors, McElfresh allegedly told Slatic that “they’ve been there once and went away, operating under the theory that no actual marijuana is there. We did a really, really good job giving them plausible deniability – and it was clear to them it wasn’t a dispensary. But, I think they suspected it was something else more than paper.”

Again referring to an inspector, McElfresh told Slatic, “I didn’t flirt (wouldn’t have worked), but I just kept focusing on the papers…. I’m convinced they walked away knowing it wasn’t a dispensary in the typical sense … but it probably seemed like something other than just paper. That just wasn’t what they were under mandate to look for, and hey, we did a very good job.”

Here’s a copy of the felony complaint against Slatic and others:

California v. Slatic, criminal complaint by Ben Adlin on Scribd

Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Cannabis Pharmaceutical Epidiolex Aids Children With Epilepsy, Study Finds

A medicine made from marijuana, without the stuff that gives a high, cut seizures in kids with a severe form of epilepsy in a study that strengthens the case for more research into pot’s possible health benefits.

“This is the first solid, rigorously obtained scientific data” that a marijuana compound is safe and effective for this problem, said one study leader, Dr. Orrin Devinsky of NYU Langone Medical Center.

He said research into promising medical uses has been hampered by requiring scientists to get special licenses, plus legal constraints and false notions of how risky marijuana is.

“Opiates kill over 30,000 Americans a year, alcohol kills over 80,000 a year. And marijuana, as best we know, probably kills less than 50 people a year,” Devinsky said.


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The study was published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

For years, desperate patients and parents have argued for more research and wider access to marijuana, with only anecdotal stories and small, flawed studies on their side. The new study is the first large, rigorous test — one group got the drug, another got a dummy version, and neither patients, parents nor doctors knew who took what until the study ended.

It tested a liquid form of cannabidiol, one of marijuana’s more than 100 ingredients, called Epidiolex, (eh’-pih-DYE’-uh-lehx). It doesn’t contain THC, the hallucinogenic ingredient, and is not sold anywhere yet, although its maker, GW Pharmaceuticals of London, is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

The company paid for, designed and helped run the study, and another doctor involved in the study has related patents.

Patients in the study have Dravet (drah-VAY) syndrome , a type of epilepsy usually caused by a faulty gene. It starts in infancy and causes frequent seizures, some so long-lasting they require emergency care and can be fatal. Kids develop poorly, and their mental impairment seems related to the frequency of seizures — from 4 to as many as 1,717 a month in this study.

Allison Hendershot’s 12-year-old daughter Molly was four months old when she had her first. It lasted an hour and a half, and emergency room doctors medically induced a coma to stop it. Molly, who lives in Rochester, New York, has tried more than half a dozen medicines and a special diet, but her seizures continued.

“We literally could not count how many” before she started in the study, her mom said.


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It included 120 children and teens, ages 2 to 18, in the U.S. and Europe. They took about a teaspoon of a sweet-smelling oil twice a day (drug or placebo) plus their usual anti-seizure medicines for 14 weeks. Their symptoms were compared to the previous four weeks.

Serious seizures with convulsions dropped from around 12 a month to about six for those on the drug and did not change in the others. Three patients on the drug became seizure-free during the study.

It’s no panacea, though. Diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, sleep problems and other issues were more frequent in the drug group. Twelve patients quit the study — nine on the drug and three in the placebo group.

Hendershot thinks her daughter got the dummy medicine because they saw no change in her seizures until the study ended and all participants were allowed to try the drug.

By the second day they saw a difference, and “she went seizure-free for two months. It was pretty remarkable,” Hendershot said.

The fact the drug came from marijuana “did not matter to me at all,” she said. “If it helps, we’re happy. I think people hear ‘cannabis’ or that it comes from marijuana and immediately there’s a stigma attached to it.”

For those who swear marijuana helped them, “anecdote has been confirmed by data,” Dr. Samuel Berkovic writes in a commentary in the medical journal. He is an epilepsy researcher at the University of Melbourne in Australia, where medical marijuana was legalized last year, and has worked with Devinsky in the past.

The drug is being tested in a second large study in kids with Dravet syndrome, and in studies of some other types of epilepsy.


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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

The Art of Extraction

This article is sponsored by Smoke Cartel, an online retailer and head shop made up of a close-knit team of glass lovers dedicated to making sure you get the best possible smoking gear.

Cannabis oil, hash oil, dabs, wax, shatter, BHO, and rosin: cannabis concentrates take on many forms and seem to have about a thousand names. There’s a strong argument to be made about why concentrates might be the future of cannabis, but few are familiar with how these concentrates are crafted. Join host Roxy Striar as she travels the country to learn about the science (and art) of cannabis extraction.

BHO Extraction at Oleum Extracts

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In the first installment of The Art of Extraction, we follow along as Roxy visits Oleum Extracts in Auburn, Washington. Join her as she learns about different extraction methods, THC crystallization, live resin, and terpene ratios before getting an in-depth tour of Oleum’s BHO extraction process from owner Graham Jennings. After the tour, Roxy tries dabbing for the first time.

Subscribe to Leafly’s YouTube channel for the complete Art of Extraction series, or check out our other videos to explore all that cannabis has to offer.

Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Leafly Investigation: How Much Butane in BHO is Too Much?

On Jan. 1, 2017, Colorado will raise its state-regulated limit on the residual levels of volatile solvents allowed in cannabis concentrates. It’s a little-noticed rule change that involves dramatically increased levels of allowable solvents. Among the changes:

  • The legal threshold for butane, the solvent that puts the B in BHO, will increase more than sixfold, from 800 parts per million to 5,000 ppm.
  • Allowed residuals for heptanes, another class of solvents, will go up by a factor of 10.
  • Xylenes, industrial solvents that technically aren’t allowed to be used for cannabis extraction at all, will be permitted at concentrations of up to 2,170 ppm—significantly higher than the previous limit of less than 1 ppm.
  • The state residual limit on benzene, perhaps the most hazardous chemical of the group, will double from less than 1 ppm to less than 2 ppm.

A redlined version of Colorado state testing regulations highlights the changes to residual solvent limits in the state, set to take effect Jan. 1. (Colorado Department of Revenue)A redlined version of Colorado state testing regulations highlights the changes to residual solvent limits in the state, set to take effect Jan. 1. Click to expand image. (Colorado Department of Revenue)

“Consumers are going to feel like they might taste it.”

Mike Van Dyke, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

On the surface, these are staggering increases in chemicals that, at some levels, have been associated with nausea, irregular heartbeat, increased risk of cancer, and even death. Regulators, testing laboratory operators, and industry members in other states have expressed surprise at the changes, which will apply to both adult-use and medical markets. Mike Van Dyke, chief of the Environmental Epidemiology, Occupational Health, and Toxicology Branch at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), which recommended the new limit, acknowledged that concentrates capable of clearing the regulatory hurdles could be noticeably different from what’s currently allowed.

“Consumers are going to feel like they might taste it,” he said of new allowed butane levels. “They might smell it.”

“I’m surprised nobody else has even actually been interested in this,” he told me in an interview last week.


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There are a few things CDPHE’s Van Dyke wants to make clear about the new rules. Here is one: “This change was not a result of any industry pressure.”

The increase didn’t come at the behest of lobbyists, he told Leafly. “In fact, in the workgroups, if we heard anything from industry, I think we heard the other side, that these were too high,” he said, “which is an uncommon place to be.”

What is going on?

The justification for the change, according to Van Dyke, is that the new limits truly follow the best currently available medical and scientific guidance. “This was a re-evaluation based on trying to make things health-based,” he explained. “These numbers came from the international harmonized guidelines for residual solvents in pharmaceuticals.”

Van Dyke is referring to a published scientific article he cited in a July letter to Jim Burack, director of the Colorado Department of Revenue’s enforcement division, which is in charge of enforcing the new standards. Van Dyke provided the letter and spoke at length to Leafly about the coming change.

“Will these numbers stand the test of time? I don’t know,” he said. “We’re open to new data that comes out, but our goal is to make sure that we maintain, the best we can, the best evidence-based regulations for health.”


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The agency is trying to do precisely what it’s been asked, Van Dyke said. Legislation passed this year, House Bill 16-1261, put the CDPHE in charge of recommending testing standards “based on medical reports and published scientific literature.”

When the Colorado Department of Revenue set the previous limits, in the wake of Amendment 64’s passage, it was a “fast and furious” process, Van Dyke said. “There were times you came up with numbers because that’s what you came up with at the time.” Despite the eye-popping increases, he said the new limits adhere more strictly to the latest available evidence in scientific research.

Amy Phung/LeaflyClick to expand image. (Amy Phung/Leafly)

Comparison shopping

Other jurisdictions have set residual solvent limits lower than Colorado. Berkeley, Calif., limits total combined residual solvents at 400 ppm. Oregon, on the other hand, set standards similar to Colorado, but with more solvents identified. In a report explaining its own rulemaking process, the Oregon Health Authority cited the same international pharmaceutical standards as Van Dyke’s letter did. Washington, which was initially silent on residual solvents levels, has considered limits as low as 500 ppm butane and 0.1 ppm benzene, but regulators are currently proposing the state adopt higher limits that match those now embraced by Oregon and Colorado. After a public comment period, the new Washington limits are set to take effect in late February.

“Frankly, we’re not saying that extracted marijuana products should have 5,000 ppm of butane in them,” Van Dyke, in Colorado, said. “What we’re saying is 5,000 is a health-based limit.”

But didn’t he just acknowledge the possibility of literally smelling butane in BHO approved by the state for medical patients?

“I think there may be a lot of market drivers that push those numbers lower,” Van Dyke acknowledged, and smell could certainly be one of them. But, he repeated, “it’s not from a health perspective that those numbers should be lower.”

But are residual solvents merely a matter of product taste and quality, or is scientific research still too limited to inspire consumer confidence? It may be a little bit of both.

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