On May 9, 2017, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance changing the County Code related to the sale and possession of butane in the unincorporated county. The proposed ordinance was continued to May 23, 2017 for final adoption with an effective date 30 days thereafter.
Several counties and cities in California have adopted local ordinances that limit or prohibit the use of products like butane used in the cultivation and dangerous processing of butane hash or “honey-oil” (BHO), a form of cannabis. Explosions associated with using butane to produce cannabis products can lead to secondary explosions and fires, and in some cases have resulted in serious injury and death.
Butane is a solvent that is explosive, colorless, odorless, and heavier than air. It can be sold over the counter in canisters that are pressurized to contain the compressed and highly flammable gas.
Sacramento County’s ordinance restricts the sale of butane to no more than 600 mL to an individual customer during a 30-day period and includes the development of a system requiring butane sellers to record the date of sale, quantity purchased, and the customer’s identification. Butane possession exceeding 600ml is permitted only by wholesalers, businesses or companies selling butane commercially.
“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 Supervisor Phil Serna 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.”
Two bills, AB 1120 (Cooper) and AB 1244 (Voepel) were recently introduced that would regulate butane in California and could preempt local ordinances.
“Thanks to my colleagues on the Board and all the public safety personnel, including District Attorney Schubert, for testifying in support. I’m hopeful other surrounding jurisdictions will adopt a similar ordinance,” said Serna.