Felony arrest in Cortlandville highlights cannabis concentrates

A Liverpool man was arrested for possessing marijuana concentrate with the intent to sell it after he was pulled over for inadequate tail lights Friday in Cortlandville, according to the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office.

Justin J. Jaskula, 39, of 211 Old Cove Road, was charged with felony fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, as well as unlawful possession of marijuana and driving without a tail light, violations.

Jaskula was arrested at 11:46 p.m. after an officer pulled him over on Route 13 and found he had an ounce of concentrated marijuana, as well as a small amount of marijuana, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Jaskula was released and is set to return at 11:30 a.m. on March 27 to Cortlandville Town Court.

Cannabis concentrates

Marijuana concentrates are wax-like substances created by extracting the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, THC, sometimes by processing it with butane, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“Marijuana concentrates contain extraordinarily high THC levels that could range from 40 to 80 percent,” according to a DEA resource guide. “This form of marijuana can be up to four times stronger in THC content than high grade or top shelf marijuana, which normally measures around 20 percent THC levels.”

Many users take marijuana concentrates using electronic cigarettes or vaporizers, an activity called “dabbing” or “vaping,” according to the DEA. A limited medical review of three case studies found marijuana concentrates damaged the nervous systems and hearts of the young men studied, and caused psychological symptoms, according to a 2017 article in The Cureus Journal of Medical Science included in the National Library of Medicine database.

Recently published case reports have shown significant psychosis, neurotoxicity, and cardiotoxicity associated with dabs,” the article noted. More people using cannabis concentrates suffered from physical addiction to marijuana than those using plant marijuana products, according to a 2018 article included in the database.

Contamination of marijuana concentrates is also a concern. A 2015 study of 57 concentrate samples in California found “considerable residual solvent and pesticide contamination...” in the samples and contamination in 80 percent of the samples, according to an article in the National Library of Medicine database.

Another danger of marijuana concentrates is the butane processing sometimes used to extract it, according to the DEA. Since butane, or lighter fluid, is extremely flammable, manufacturing mistakes in home labs have led to explosions. “THC extraction labs are being reported nationwide, particularly in the western states and in states where local and state marijuana laws are more relaxed,” according to the DEA.

Legalization legislation

The state is considering legalizing marijuana use for those over 21, an initiative listed in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s January State of the State address. Bills to legalize marijuana use for those over 21 are in committee in both the State Senate and Assembly. The initiative aims to reduce the impacts of marijuana criminalization on minority communities, seal marijuana-related criminal records, implement quality control and user protections, create jobs and generate an estimated $300 million in tax revenue, according to the Governor’s office. Under the initiative, counties and large cities could opt out.  A 2018 assessment by the State Health Department found the potential benefits of legalizing marijuana outweighed its potential dangers.

Marijuana and marijuana extract remain illegal under federal law.