With the adoption of parts of both the International Fire Code and the regulations from the National Fire Protection Agency, standards are soon going to change for the Montana Fire code and for Montana cannabis extraction and concentration. Class 1, Division 1 requirements for cannabis extractors may soon be a standard the industry must abide by. There is a lot of confusion about who these rules apply to and how they will be implemented into both the Montana medical marijuana program and the Montana hemp industry.
The growth of the cannabis industry in the last 5 years has lead a number of states and municipalities throughout the US to adopt more targeted regulations to govern their local cannabis industries. New requirements such as requiring all interstate hemp toll extractors to be compliant with current Good Manufacturing Practices are attempts by federal and local governments to increase public and worker safety. The recent announcement that here in Montana, medical marijuana providers that also extract and concentrate their marijuana products might have to operate in a C1D1 facility is a good example of this new batch of regulations hitting the industry. But will all of the medical marijuana providers that use any form of solvent extraction and concentration really have to comply with C1D1 standards?
Simply put, no. If your business uses solventless methods, i.e. heat and pressure to create “rosin” extracts, or if your business uses some non-volatile solvents like water in forms of “hash” you will be excluded from these new regulations. But what about using CO2 for extractions? In many states like Washington, where cannabis extraction is explicitly mentioned in the fire code, a distinction is made between “hazardous” and “non-hazardous” extraction and concentration methods.
“Marijuana processing and extraction shall be limited to those processes and extraction methods that utilize chemicals defined as hazardous by the International Fire Code and are regulated as such.” WFC 2015
The IFC defines “Hazardous” as “those chemicals or substances which are physical hazards or health hazards.” IFC 202. Under the definition of a “physical hazard”, the same chapter reads, “A chemical for which there is evidence that it is a combustible liquid, cryogenic fluid, explosive, flammable (solid, liquid or gas), organic peroxide (solid or liquid), oxidizer (solid or liquid), oxidizing gas, pyrophoric (solid, liquid or gas), unstable (reactive) material (solid, liquid or gas) or water-reactive material (solid or liquid).” IFC 202. Under this definition, the use of combustible or highly reactive solvents is regulated by this section. A question is whether or not liquid CO2 constitutes a “cryogenic fluid”, thankfully there is also a definition for this as well.
In the NFPA 55, a cryogenic liquid is a substance that has a boiling point of less than -130℉ (-90℃). CO2’s boiling point is at -109.2℉, allowing it to be exempted as a cryogenic liquid and not be regulated under C1D1 standards. That being said, there are still special regulations on CO2 extraction, including requirements on PPM testing of the ambient air with approved CO2 detectors, the requirement that blow-off valves must be routed to vent outside of the building, and that all CO2 storage above a specific volume has to be OSHA approved.
In conclusion, if you are extracting with volatile solvents such as ethanol, butane, or butanol, you will not only be required to use a closed-loop device but also be required to conduct all extractions adhering to C1D1 electrical standards. If you are using CO2, there will be some new restrictions on how you must vent and track the ambient air of the building but you will not be required to be C1D1 compliant. And if you are just making good old hash or rosin and not using any volatile compounds, you are completely exempt.
Ultimately, governing and regulatory bodies need to remember that any form of regulation like this is to protect the general public and those that work with the equipment. As the cannabis industry grows and insurance companies start to insure businesses, more standards will be implemented to decrease the risk that insurance claims occur. As laws change and compliance standards are adopted and refined, Planet-3 can assist your business through these changes, from sourcing the right equipment for the right job to making sure you have all of the compliance documents and management protocols for smooth operations. Call and reach out if you are looking to revamp your cannabis business and prepare for the future.
The fire code from both the IFC and NFPA is hard to access if you are not paying for one of their e-books. Due to these organizations keeping the code they write behind paywalls, we cannot directly link to a publicly available readable copy. If you have any questions on the fire code and marijuana regulations in Montana, reach out and give us a call or an email. Thank you.