Last week, Arizona Cannabis News (ACN) published a bombshell article that alleged the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) has a program where law enforcement officers were making concentrated marijuana products. This week ACN reporter Allison Stein received an email from Calbert Gillett, MCSO Public Information Officer, confirming our report.
Yes, cop-made concentrates are a thing.
Apparently, Phoenix area law enforcement officers hae been practicing their extraction skills since 2016 and even filmed video of the process as part the No-Vote effort against Prop205. Reacting to the “Jones Case Ruling,” which specified a patient’s allotment is limited to the amount of concentrate that can be made from 2.5 ounces of flower, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has started using confiscated extraction equipment and flower from the underground economy to calculate how much flower actually goes into making various types of concentrates.
Since breaking the story last week, we have now received a press release from MCSO in response to multiple media outlets requesting a statement. Here is the MCSO statement is in its entirety:
Detective Shay has been employed with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for two years. Before joining MCSO, Detective Shay retired as a Phoenix Police office after 23 years. He is currently assigned to the Special Investigations Division, HIDTA Clan Lab task force which is referenced as the Maricopa County Drug Suppression Task Force (MCDST). We do have two members of the unit that are with the Phoenix Police Department, but they are not directly involved with any of the training.
The goal of the Maricopa County Drug Suppression Task Force is:
- To provide training for officers’ knowledge and safety.
- To understand the methods from which cannabis is manufactured from dried marijuana flower. While doing so it allows MCSDT to get a basic understanding of the amount of cannabis that is extracted during these processes. The MCSDT has been running since at least 2015.
In June 2019, after State v. Jones was decided by the Supreme Court, MCSDT detectives took the additional measures of weighing their results and documenting them in an information only report (MCSO 19-019413). This was a result of the impact the ruling had on law enforcement agencies understanding of the lawful amount a qualified patient could have in their possession. Detectives then add several supplements when additional information on extraction processes and reported extraction yields are reported.
MCSDT provides state-wide training to hazmat teams, prosecutors, investigators, first responding patrol officers, community action groups, community leaders, school children and parents on a wide variety of topics. These include, but not limited to, revolving drugs use, production manufacture and related crimes. For over 4 years the unit has been training first responders on the hazards of butane honey oil extractions, and the methods cannabis is manufactured from marijuana. In those trainings, detectives in a controlled environment, and using site safety protocols and equipment, extract cannabis using several methods. For example, one method is to run butane over marijuana to show how basic cannabis oil is manufactured as well as the flammable and explosive hazards of that process.
MCSDT does consult with the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHC) and other local law enforcement agencies on a regular basis.
As previously stated, MCDST provides officers and investigators training and prepares expert testimony for prosecuting agencies throughout the state. Therefore when the question of “can a person possess (x amount) of cannabis and still be covered under the immunities offered under the AMMA “ arises, MCDST needs to develop a baseline to answer or opine based on training and experience and support that with facts and evidence if possible. Therefore, detectives began to make specific note of the quantities that they were obtaining (yield) from extractions and then providing that amount simply as a baseline of understanding to the various agencies.
There is no specific funding for this program. Much of the training preparation is conducted while on duty, creating, power points, gathering training supplies, meeting and discussing trends.
Calbert Gillett, Public Information Officer, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office
The original article, “MCSO Officers Now Making Their Own Concentrates,” has been ACN’s most widely article ever, viewed and shared thousands of times in less than a week. More importantly both the Arizona Mirror and AZMarijuana.com cited Stein’s reporting in their coverage of this amazing development.
Since first publishing the explosive article, Arizona Cannabis News has obtained an exclusive 2016 video of an officer making BHO for Channel 5 News. The video confirms that MCSO press release given above. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling on the Jones Case, MCSO was processing its own extracts to fight the “illegal” market. We will be publishing that video as soon as it is ready to post.
After the Jones Ruling, MCSO appears to have switched gears and now using those skills to better target patients. Which raises questions, not the least of which include – where are the made concentrates going?
Can we try it? Just kidding.
Since the MCSO Task Force members are not DA/ dispensary agents, licensed caregivers or patients making an exchange near impossible. Too bad, the idea of MCSO RSO has a certain appeal.