Demand for high-quality cannabis extracts is surging. Fresh recreational and medical laws continue to burst into existence. Nearly a dozen states are considering adopting pro-cannabis laws this year. Old-fashioned extraction efforts are blazing back into popularity. Supercritical CO2 extraction has long been a staple in the food and beverage industry. Cannabis manufacturers, however, have historically shied away from the expensive method. Until now. The cannabis industry is booming; a lot of growers and manufacturers are flush with cash. Cannabis connoisseurs crave variety at dispensaries.

CO2 oil is popular because it's a pure, clean substance that's devoid of the usual harsh solvents used to create cannabis concentrates. States with legalized cannabis have introduced licensing and regulatory rules for cannabis concentrates. This post will delve into the basics of supercritical CO2 extraction methods and explain the regulations guiding extract artists in their work. Keep reading to find out more about CO2 oil and the laws surrounding it.

What is CO2 Extraction?

Supercritical CO2 extraction processes take advantage of a bizarre property of carbon dioxide (CO2). Extreme pressure and temperature are combined to force the CO2 beyond its critical point. Supercritical fluids have features midway between a gas and a liquid at the same time. While in this volatile state, supercritical CO2 is an ideal solvent. It breaks down the plant structures in cannabis and allows the technician to isolate cannabinoids and terpenes, chemicals in cannabis that affect the human body and brain. Traditional cannabis extraction efforts rely on harsh, flammable solvents.

Regulations for Extraction

The cannabis industry has been legitimized. Strict rules now govern cannabis manufacturers. Most states have licensing and accreditation requirements. They also have standards that must be met before the cannabis can be sold. Laws change drastically by state. States with legalized recreational cannabis seem to have the most robust regulatory system. For instance, California law states that: "Every person who manufactures cannabis products shall obtain and maintain a valid manufacturer license from the Department..." Cannabis professionals that want to produce CO2 oil in most states need to be properly licensed. There are additional rules about the product itself. A lot of states with legal cannabis require that it be tested by an independent laboratory before it reaches dispensaries. CO2 extraction efforts should produce a clean extract that's free from contaminants. States with lab testing requirements check for pesticides and bacteria as well as other impurities.

Volatile vs Non-volatile Manufacturing

State regulators worry about flammable, volatile solvents. California law separates cannabis manufacturers based on their extraction efforts. You need a different license to produce butane hash oil than CO2 oil. California lawmakers split manufacturers into two groups, distinguished by their use of volatile or non-volatile solvents. According to last year's Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, a volatile solvent "is or produces a flammable gas or vapour that, when present in the air in sufficient quantities, will create explosive or ignitable mixtures." CO2 is a non-volatile solvent. California cannabis manufacturers who use a professional CO2 system to create their extracts would be considered Level 1 Manufacturers. Extract technicians who worked with chemicals like butane are Level 2 Manufacturers. It's more difficult and more expensive to apply for a Level 2 license. Few California neighbourhoods allow Level 2 cannabis facilities. California law isn't a federal dictate, but the state's cannabis market is now the largest in the world. Smaller markets look to California as an example.

Problems with Butane Extraction Efforts

Consumers are wary of butane. Last year, California legislators passed a bill that treats butane like a serious drug. Gov. Jerry Brown eventually vetoed it, if he hadn't the state's butane hash oil producers would have gone out of business. The bill limited the amount of butane a consumer could purchase each month and required dispensaries to keep track of people's usage.  "This type of 'point-of-sale' regulation works," the bill's authors wrote. "It has a proven track record in the detection and dismantling of methamphetamine labs..." Denver, Colorado was the first city to slap regulations onto the butane hash oil process. Engineers analyze new facilities to make sure that they're compliant with the law. In 2014, 32 butane hash oil explosions were reported in Colorado alone. Manufacturers using CO2 are scrutinized as well, but the regulations are less burdensome. Manufacturing CO2 oil-based cannabis products are often cheaper and easier than using butane.

Benefits of CO2 Extraction

Cannabis is heavily regulated. The law, however, is friendlier toward certain types of extraction methods than others. Butane is risky. Ignoring the health risks of ingesting the chemical, labs that work with Butane are at risk of blowing up. That's why so many California counties are okay with manufacturing facilities that use CO2 to create cannabis extracts but are reluctant to approve labs that use flammable solvents. Creating butane hash oil is dangerous if you're not experienced. California, Nevada, Colorado, and Washington all have rigid regulations and licensing rules controlling their legal cannabis market. Other states are adopting similar laws. CO2 oil is preferable to other cannabis-infused products because its health benefits appeal to consumers and regulators alike. It's an FDA-approved solvent that's doesn't harm the environment or the human body.

Find Out More

Supercritical CO2 extraction is an increasingly popular way to produce high-quality cannabis concentrates. It's a pure method that produces terpene and cannabinoid-rich extracts without sullying the product with potentially toxic materials. Cannabis growers and concentrate manufacturers who want to satisfy a diverse client base should look into producing CO2 oil. To learn more about supercritical and subcritical CO2, browse through the learn section of our site.