Color Remediation Correction: A Conversation with Petrol Extracts
Back in August, I wrote the blog CRC Technology! Popular or Unpopular Opinion?, bringing to light that the practice is increasingly becoming popular behind closed doors. The end product being questionably safe or not, I wanted to start the conversation to see how others in the industry viewed CRC (Color Remediation Correction).
The stars aligned and I was approached by Petrol Extract’s CEO/Founder, Ryan Meeker, about the article. He too, wanted to get the conversation going but was finding some resistance among industry peers. He’s reached out to various well known cannabis publications hoping to shed light on the topic, but unfortunately, many in the industry are hesitant to discuss the topic. Why? Because it is a questionable process that potentially produces a dangerous product, which is still yet to be scientifically confirmed. There seems to be great hesitation to expose the practice.
Ryan and I both have something in common. We want people to start talking about it!
So I welcomed the opportunity to interview Ryan and his Lead Extractor/Lab Manager Robby Foote, about CRC, the process and why this potentially dangerous practice is starting to become industry wide. They are both advocates for creating pure and natural concentrates, completely CRC free.
Robby has over 12 years of extracting experience and has worked with medias and CRC for 5 of those years.
Q: Tell me about the process?
A: There’s tons of different medias, and they’re all different. If you start with good product, you don’t need CRC. Older material you would need to use CRC, or start a little column. A lot of companies use a thicker column. So, you might get some in your end product. You don’t know what your smoking.
It’s hard to get it all out. Different filters, different metal fabrications, so it’s impossible to get it all out of your product if your not using the right equipment.
Q: Was it visual? Any of the left over product or media?
A: Yes, it would get in the pans and the jars. You don’t really know what your smoking. You can’t really see it and can’t test it. No one’s really done that.
The testing facilities are not testing for that to know what media is in it or what media was even used. What’s cool about our set up, is we don’t even have a column, so that’s proof to show people that we don’t use it. CRC uses a column.
We’ve seen people use a bucket, which is not safe or sanitary, verses a stainless steel column.
One thing Petrol has been focused on is showing their customers what the starting flower is before they extract it. They want consumers to see they use the highest quality, cleanest pesticide free flower before turning it into a concentrate.
Consumers need to be aware what the starting product is. That’s why Petrol Extracts specifically names the Farm on all of their labels. They want consumers to know who the best growers are in Washington.
“We’re just trying to do the right thing”
Q: Do you have an idea of what media is most commonly used in the industry, or is that still a big secret?
A: A lot of extractors are using CRX or CRY.
Q: And what is that?
A: It’s silica. A lot of people use silica. It’s so fine, so you don’t know if it gets through your filter.
According to OSHA, construction workers who have been exposed to silica dust have the potential to develop silicosis, lung cancer, COPD and kidney disease.
Q: That’s stuff pretty dangerous actually, right?
A: Yes, we are starting to see people that are smoking that and it’s causing severe reactions. It’s not ok.
Q: Why to you think the LCB isn’t testing for that yet? They’re so strict with testing, it seems like that’s something they should be testing for?
A: 100 %! I believe the Oregon market banned it.
WHAT ARE THE LAWS IN OTHER STATES
Following up, I had to see what some of the other leading states were enforcing. Looking into Oregon laws, in 2021 the state put restrictions on synthetic cannabinoids and the use of bleaching clays. Specifically as follows:
Concentrates or Extracts processed with Color Remediation Column (CRC): OLCC is aware that some Processors treat concentrates or extracts with reactive materials like bleaching clay. Under certain conditions, bleaching clay and other materials may react with the cannabinoids in a concentrate or extract to generate artificially derived cannabinoids. Concentrates or extracts processed in this manner prior to January 1, 2022 can continue to be sold until July 1, 2022. Concentrates or extracts processed in this manner on or after January 1, 2022 are not eligible for transfer to other licensees if they contain any artificially derived cannabinoids.
It is noted in OLCC 845-025-1310: Artificially Derived Cannabinoids
- A licensee may transfer, sell, transport, purchase, possess, accept, return, or receive an artificially derived cannabinoid, including an artificially derived cannabinoid created by a refinement process using a reactive material such as bleaching clay, or a marijuana or hemp item that contains an artificially derived cannabinoid if:
- (b) The item is not intended for human inhalation; and
- (c) The manufacturer of the artificially derived cannabinoid:
- Has made a “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) determination for the artificial cannabinoid and supplied a copy of that determination to the Commission;
It is important to note that GRAS labeling does not actually mean it’s safe. The FDA uses GRAS labeling for food products, not products meant for inhalation. Before it became a practice in the cannabis industry, it was mostly used for water filtration and food processing. So why is it being used now for cannabis extraction?
In California, it appears cannabis regulations are strict on the extraction methods, covering permissible extractions, solvent requirements, closed-loop extraction system requirements, etc. However, I have been unable to identify any specific law surrounding color remediation, the use of clay or any directly relevant law.
Of the more recently legalized states, Missouri has regulations allowing remediation for testing failures to process the product further to remove contaminants such as heavy metals.
In Colorado, one of the pioneer states to legalize cannabis, the law states:
“Adulterants. A Regulated Marijuana Cultivation Facility may not treat or otherwise adulterate Regulated Marijuana with any chemical or other compound whatsoever to alter its color, appearance, weight, or smell.” In addition “Elemental Impurities Remediation. All post extraction plant material generated from the elemental impurities Remediation process, and other Regulated Marijuana waste products (including but not limited to, still bottoms, lipids removed during winterization) generated from the Remediation process have the potential to be hazardous waste. Therefore, all such post extraction plant material must be subject to one of the following actions prior to leaving the Licensed Premises…
- Treated as hazardous waste in regard to storage, labeling, and disposal; or
- Tested for elemental impurities content.
WASHINGTON STATE LAW
So what is the law in Washington State? Ryan reached out to the WSLCB for answers, specifically asking if the CRC process was allowed. The reply “Short version is you can’t currently use the method. The method is using clay to press the final extract to remediate the chemicals…From my understanding clay is not an acceptable material to use for extraction process.”
The officer provided detailed information directly from the law which included the following regulations:
Section K: Extraction Requirements WAC 314-55-104.
- Processors are limited to the methods, equipment, solvents, gases and mediums details in this section when creating cannabis extracts.
- Processors may use the hydrocarbons N-butane, Isobutane, propane, or heptane.
He also goes on to discuss the equipment of the professional grade closed loop CO2 gas extraction system, which must be certified by an licensed engineer and provided to the WSLCB. In addition the law states:
- Processors may use heat, screens, presses, steam distillation, ice water, and other methods without employing solvents or gases to create kier, hashish, bubble hash, or infused dairy butter, or oils or fats derived from natural sources, and other extracts.
- Processors may use food grade glycerin, ethanol, and propylene glycol solvents to create extracts, All ethanol must be removed from the extract in a manner to recapture the solvent and ensure that it is not vented into the atmosphere.
Enjoying the one on one education with Ryan and Robby, they continued the conversation detailing their process to produce clean cannabis extracts “What we do – we winterize. We post process using ethanol extraction with winterization, which then remediates some of the color. It has no silica. It has no clays. A lot of companies use an ethanol proprietary towards the end of it for post processing if it doesn’t meet the quality or grade. That’s how we will filter out any fats, lipids, and things. That’s how we get the honey diesel.”
Q: So I’m hearing a lot of these premium brands are turning to CRC. Why do you think they are doing that if they’ve already got the reputation of having a premium product, or pride on getting the best flower? Are these premium brands starting to downgrade their products to save money? Why do you think we’re seeing this change in the industry?
A: Yes and No. We go on tours of the farms. We have an employee, Beau Knittle, that’s been growing for over 25 years. He can look at something and can tell if there’s powdery mildew. He is very tenured in the garden and he’s worked with some big gardens. Tier 3 level. So when we extract, there’s no BS.
If you think your product is good, let’s see what it looks like concentrated. Some companies are saying their product is something it’s not. We extract it and can say, ‘well you aren’t pesticide free’ or other. So we don’t move forward. We’re seeing them cutting corners. A lot of these top companies have been doing this for a very long time. We shop for better grade material and it’s night and day.
Ryan describes that it’s also the lack of education of the industry. “I’ve been to 300 stores in Washington over the span of 6 months and I’d say 1 out of 5 actually know what CRC is.”
He tells me how most of the purchasers don’t know what CRC is, or realize that half their concentrates on the shelf were produced using the CRC method. They don’t realize that the lower price dabs may be a reflection that the producer is cutting corners using CRC.
Q: So you source quality flower to produce your product. Describe to me the quality of flower you need to produce a quality product without using CRC.
A: It’s just good grade material. Properly cured. Fresh frozen batches. Fresh off the plant, no cure. Live resin.
Q: So what farms do you work with because they produce a great product?
A: Number one would be Sacred Gardens, out of Port Townsend. They have been amazing. They’re Jack Herer cut is from Jack Herer himself. Small batch. It’s been the cleanest for test results that we’ve had, of material and grade. And it’s the people behind the flower as well. It’s who you shop with and who you give that love to. Sacred has been that small farm that we found. A diamond in the rough. Another one has been Art Cannabis. They give 1% of their commissions of products sold to the artists that makes the art for their brand. Rescue Cannabis, pesticide free out of Wenatchee. They give 1% to animal shelters. Most recently we’ve started working with OZ Gardens out of Bellingham and we’re really excited to release new products with them.
Ryan elaborates why they also support these farms. “One, we like the vision behind it. Two, they’ve produced a lot of good grade material. And three, smaller farm, smaller company, working on some new and classic genetics.
I definitely 100% agree with that philosophy. Canna West Seattle has always been huge supporters of small business and clean cannabis.
“Good people make good flower. Good flower makes good concentrates. It’s so simple. Honest people make honest weed.”
Yes, I agree with that as well. It’s all about the grade of the material, the machine and the technology that goes with it. In the end, the CRC process is jeopardizing and downgrading the quality of the product, just for looks.
Just. For. Looks.
“Not all CRC is bad. It’s about education. What media is being used and the amount of media being used. Some people are just abusing it.”
So let’s open up and continue this conversation with the entire industry. Let’s be transparent, work together to create regulations and testing requirements that require everyone to consistently produce clean, contaminant free cannabis, industry wide.
I fully support Petrol Extracts on their mission and I love knowing that when I consume Petrol Extracts products, I’m consuming clean, pesticide free and CRC free concentrates.
Petrol Extracts is small batch, focused on producing high quality concentrates. Their Jack Herer is one of their best selling products. Beautifully gold, clean and super potent.