LawLytics QA

A pipe and a lump of marijuana concentrate

Using butane to make concentrated cannabis in Colorado

Marijuana concentrate is often produced using butane or other dangerous chemicals. Under Colorado law, using butane or other inherently hazardous substances to make marijuana concentrate is a crime.

Specifically, section 18-18-406.6 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) makes it a crime to knowingly:

  • Manufacture marijuana concentrate using an inherently hazardous substance, or
  • Allow marijuana concentrate to be manufactured using an inherently hazardous substance on premises you own, manage, operate, or otherwise control.

Penalties for unlawfully making marijuana concentrate

Using butane or another dangerous chemical to make concentrated marijuana is a Colorado level 2 drug felony. Consequences of producing marijuana concentrate using a hazardous substance can include:

  • Up to 8 years in prison (or 16 years if you are a convicted felon on parole), plus
  • A fine of up to $750,000.

To help you better understand Colorado's laws on marijuana concentrate, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below:

two lumps on marijuana concentrate in a plastic container

1. What is marijuana concentrate?

Marijuana concentrate is the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the marijuana plant. It is marijuana that has been concentrated into an especially potent form by chemical processing or other methods.

When concentrated, this form of marijuana resembles honey, butter, liquid, irregular chunks, or a semisolid “goo.” For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as “honey oil” or “budder.” Other street names include 710 (the word “oil” backwards and upside down), hash oil, concentrated cannabis, shatter, butane honey oil (BHO), black glass, dabs and errl.

Marijuana concentrate can contain two to four times as much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as other forms of marijuana. THC is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects. As a result, adults at least 21 years of age may legally purchase less marijuana concentrate in Colorado than other forms of marijuana – up to 8 grams of marijuana concentrate if you are a Colorado resident (as compared to 28 grams of buds), or up to 2 grams if you live out of state.

1.1. What is an inherently hazardous substance?

18-18-406.6 C.R.S. defines “inherently hazardous substance” as any liquid chemical, compressed gas, or commercial product that has a flash point at or lower than 38 degrees celsius or 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Such substances include butane, propane, and diethyl ether, but specifically do not include alcohol or ethanol.

1.2. What makes butane so dangerous?

A popular method for converting weed into marijuana concentrate is the butane extraction process.

In this process, shredded or ground up marijuana is stuffed into a glass, metal, or plastic pipe having a filter at one end. Butaine or a similar substance is then forced through the open end of the pipe.

As the butane passes through the pipe, the THC in the marijuana is extracted and forced through the filter. It is then heated to burn off the remaining butane, a process which creates butane gas.

Butane gas is extremely volatile and flammable, and heating it can cause violent explosions. As a result, Colorado law makes it a serious felony to use butane other a similarly hazardous substance to make marijuana concentrate.

1.3. What are some legal methods for making marijuana concentrate in Colorado?

Colorado courts have yet to rule on what constitutes a legal method of making concentrated cannabis in Colorado. However, methods that do not involve inherently dangerous substances might include:

  • Pressure,
  • Screening,
  • Ice water, or
  • Dissolving the marijuana plant in a non-chemical lipid extractor, such as butter.

2. Colorado penalties for unlawful manufacture of marijuana concentrate

Manufacturing or permitting the manufacture of marijuana concentrate with a hazardous substance is a Colorado level 2 drug felony.

Punishment for the unlawful manufacture of marijuana concentrates can include:

  • 4-8 years in prison (with 2 years mandatory parole), and
  • A fine of $3,000-$750,000.

However, prison time for unlawfully manufacturing marijuana concentrate can increase to as much as 16 years if you are subject to Colorado's aggravated drug sentencing rules – for instance, if you are on parole for a felony at the time of the offense.

3. Defenses to using a hazardous substance to make concentrated cannabis

The best defense to the charge of manufacturing marijuana concentrate with a hazardous substance depends on the specific facts of your case. But common defenses we often see include (but are not limited to):

  • You are legally licensed to produce marijuana concentrate pursuant to:
    • Article 43.3 of title 12, C.R.S. (relating to medical marijuana), or 
    • Article 43.4 of title 12, C.R.S. (Colorado's retail marijuana code);
  • You didn't knowingly manufacture concentrated cannabis;
  • Someone else made the marijuana concentrate;
  • You didn't know someone was making marijuana concentrate on your premises;
  • You didn't use an inherently hazardous substance to make the marijuana concentrate; or
  • The police found the marijuana concentrate during an illegal search and seizure.

Call us for help…

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If you or someone you know has been charged with unlawfully manufacturing concentrated cannabis or another violation of Colorado marijuana or drug laws, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

Don't let an innocent mistake involving a legal drug turn you into a convicted felon. Contact us using the form on this page, or call us at our Denver home office to find out how we can help you – and why we are considered some of the best marijuana defense lawyers in Colorado.

Our Denver home office is conveniently located at:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202
720-955-6112

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