Today the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance changing the Sacramento County Code related to butane resale and possession. The ordinance will be continued to May 23, 2017 for final adoption with an effective date 30 days thereafter. The ordinance restricts the retail sale and possession of refined butane, requires retailers to track sales, and penalizes violators in the unincorporated county.
Refined butane is used in the dangerous production of butane hash- or “honey-oil” (BHO) a form of cannabis with concentrated levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Refined butane is used as a volatile solvent in the processing of BHO and is a well-documented source of structure fires and explosions.
Sacramento County has experienced a significant increase in the seizure of home-processing butane labs, several of which have posed significant risk to those processing BHO, innocent bystanders and first responders. In the last three years, the Sheriff’s Department responded to and dismantled 35 labs related to BHO production. The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted approximately 46 concentrated cannabis operations in 2015, 38 in 2016 and 13 so far in 2017.
“Explosions can be sparked by cigarettes and seemingly innocuous sources like wall or thermostat switches, refrigerator motors, wall outlets, and even electrostatic discharge,” explained Don Nottoli, Board Chairman.
“It has become all-too-obvious that easy access to large quantities of butane, acquired through retail purchase, makes it difficult to thwart the growing problem of dangerous, BHO home processing labs,” stated Phil Serna, District 1 Supervisor, who introduced the ordinance. “I’ve seen for myself conspicuous large-quantity retail sales of butane in liquor stores, and recent discussions with public safety officials have further confirmed that we must do more to prevent avoidable property damage, injury and loss of life.”
The proposed ordinance would restrict the resale of butane to no more than 600 mL to an individual customer during a 30-day period. Butane possession exceeding 600ml is permitted only by wholesalers, businesses or companies selling butane commercially. Additionally, the ordinance includes the development of a system requiring butane sellers to record the date of sale, quantity purchased, and the customer’s identification.
Two bills, AB 1120 and AB 1244, were recently introduced that would regulate butane in California and could preempt local ordinances.