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Cities across the state are fed up with the growing number of hash lab explosions, so they’re creating ordinances to regulate the sale, purchase and possession of butane. Recently Eureka established a butane ordinance, and now the city of Arcata is trying to follow suit.
On Wednesday night the City Council is set to approve an ordinance that will prohibit retailers from selling more than 600 ml of butane to a person in one month. That’s less than two canisters, which are the size of hairspray cans. They will be required to record the purchaser’s name and address and file it for two years. Plus they’ll have to store or display butane in an area inaccessible to customers without employee assistance.
In addition, no one can purchase or possess more than 600 ml of butane in one month unless they have appropriate state licensing.
Currently the butane canisters are easily accessible in Arcata. They’re sold at hardware stores, head shops and even corner markets, and at the low cost of $2.99 a can or $29.99 for a case of twelve.
Over the years using refined butane to extract THC from the cannabis plant has grown in popularity, since it’s an easy way to manufacture honey or hash oil. However, butane is odorless and invisible, accumulates on the ground, and if it finds an ignition source the result is an in an explosion.
Arcata Fire Chief Justin McDonald says when he arrived at this most recent hash lab explosion in Manila, “Butane canisters were still blowing off and popping. We found butane canisters that launched across the driveway. So it’s dangerous to firefighters.”
The fire district says it provided input to the city’s butane ordinance and supports it. As for others, Councilmember Mark Wheetley says there hasn’t been any significant opposition to the ordinance.
“I think people recognize it as a fire and public safety risk,” he says. “And we’ve had a few fires in Arcata over the years and all you need to do is take a look at those and people would say, I don’t want that in my next door neighbors house or in my house.”
If adopted the new law will go into effect 30 days later. And although, it will not cover McKinleyville and Manila, Arcata Fire District is hopeful the county will take notice and create its own butane regulations.