Citing safety concerns, the Nevada City Police Department asked the city council on Wednesday to consider a moratorium on cannabis manufacturing businesses that use volatile extraction methods.
Local cannabis business owners argued against the request, telling council members the industry is highly regulated and cannabis should not be singled out. In the end, the council shelved the discussion until city staff could become better educated on the ins and outs of the issue.
The issue arose because edibles, tinctures and oils, which are made with cannabis extract, comprise a large part of the legal cannabis industry’s sales, and are increasing in popularity. To extract the active ingredients from whole marijuana flowers, chemical solvents are used that are often flammable and potentially dangerous if used improperly during the extraction process.
Butane, a volatile extraction method, has been linked to a number of honey oil lab explosions in Nevada County, most recently in June 2017.
California split the activity of cannabis manufacturing into categories, distinguished by whether or not they used “volatile solvents,” and placed differing restrictions on the two categories. Initially, the state categorized ethanol extraction as volatile, then changed it to non-volatile.
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But because the issue was still up in the air when Nevada City formulated its cannabis permit process, the city decided to allow both volatile and non-volatile businesses, City Manager Catrina Olson explained. Currently, there are two pending cannabis permits in Nevada City in the volatile license category: Sky Farms and The Searls Group.
“Further research and education revealed the dangers of the volatile extraction method,” Olson said in her staff report, adding that a moratorium on any further issuance of such permits “may be in the best interest of the city.”
City Planner Amy Wolfson clarified that Sky