Two executives who ran an illegal business that prosecutors said was the first and largest domestic manufacturer and distributor of butane specifically designed for use in making butane hash oil — a marijuana concentrate — pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court Thursday to a money laundering conspiracy charge.
Former Chief Executive Officer Michael Tandberg and Chief Financial Officer Adam Hopkins, of Lahar Manufacturing Inc., are scheduled to be sentenced May 27 before U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel.
The defendants’ Newport Beach-based business operated under the name Puretane.
According to their pleas, Tandberg, 54, and Hopkins, 45, agreed to forfeit the money remaining in their corporate bank account and more than 60,000 canisters of Puretane butane.
Authorities said butane hash oil is similar in appearance to honey or butter and contains extremely high level of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and can be up to four times more potent than high grade marijuana.
BHO is commonly manufactured by packing marijuana into a glass, plastic or metal tube. Butane is then sprayed into the top of the tube. The butane strips the marijuana of the cannabinoid-containing oils, which drip from the bottom of the tube, often through a filter and into a holding container.
The end product is highly profitable and can be ingested as an oil, consumed in edibles, or solidified to make concentrated forms of cannabis known as “wax,” according the authorities.
During the manufacture of BHO, butane, a flammable gas that is odorless, colorless and heavier than air, can evaporate out of the substance and collect on the floor, accumulating to explosive levels without proper ventilation, authorities said.
This process creates an invisible, but very real, risk of fires, explosions, and chemical burns.
In 2015 alone, there were 33 reported fires and explosions that occurred during the manufacture of BHO in California.
Puretane sold its butane in 300 milliliter cannisters for about $4-to-$5 per cannister to retailers throughout the United States, including to at least 25 retailers in San Diego County, such as Raw Smokeshop, Dr. Green’s Ink and Holy Smoke.
Puretane sold more than 400,000 canisters of their butane to retailers.
–City News Service
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: