Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
Throughout California over the past few years, there’s been numerous incidents of exploding houses and apartment buildings resulting from concentrated cannabis manufacturing operations gone wrong. Also known as dabs or Butane Honey Oil (“BHO”), the danger in this process results from the volatility of using butane in the making of concentrated cannabis. These are clandestine labs, often in cramped and poorly ventilated apartments and small houses. Often those involved in the manufacturing are not following proper safety precautions.
The California legislature and Governor Jerry Brown has reacted to this by enacting SB 212. The new law adds aggravating factors for the production of BHO in or near occupied and residential dwellings. Under current Penal Code Section 11379.6, if someone is convicted of illegally manufacturing BHO, a judge can sentence the defendant to a 3, 5, or 7 years in prison. Which term is selected depends on the facts of the case. For the vast majority of defendants, this would be served in local county jail, but it still counts as a state prison sentence. And let’s face it, that’s a load of time.
Under the new law, as of January 1, 2016 if the building where the manufacturing is taking place is within “300 feet of an occupied residence or any structure where another person was present at the time the offense was committed may be considered a factor in aggravation by the sentencing court.”
This means that when the judge decides whether to sentencing someone to the minimum, the mid-term or the maximum, the fact that the lab was in or near an occupied structure can be used to decide impose a harsher sentence.
But here’s an important thing to keep in mind. The new law not only applies to butane but “any volatile solvent.” So that means anything that is considered “a volatile solvent” is included in the law. On the other side of the coin, if people are using water based processes to make concentrated cannabis, then it seems that this law would not apply.
Additionally, if water based concentrates are being manufactured for a valid California medical marijuana collective, I believe there is a strong defense to any allegations of illegal manufacturing. It doesn’t mean it you won’t be arrested or prosecuted, but I do believe it’s a strong defense at trial.
If you or a loved one are accused of manufacturing a controlled substance or any criminal charge, you can call The Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg for a free consultation to discuss the situation. Call (323) 633-3423.