People v. Bergen

In People v. Bergen (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 161, the defendant used chemical butane and an extraction device comprised of PVC pipe to extract THC from marijuana plants to produce concentrated cannabis. (Bergen, supra, 166 Cal.App.4th at pp. 165-166.) The People charged defendant with violating section 11379.6, subdivision (a). (Bergen, at p. 164.) On appeal, the defendant argued that "because section 11358 is specific to marijuana processing, it controls over section 11379.6(a)'s general prohibition against the manufacture of controlled substances." (Id. at p. 167.) The Bergen court rejected this argument, concluding section 11379.6, subdivision (a) was the more specific statute because it focused on the specific processes used to develop controlled substances, such as marijuana. (Bergen, supra, 166 Cal.App.4th at p. 169.) The court reasoned that "unlike the general prohibitions in section 11358, the focus of section 11379.6(a) is on the particular processes employed to produce a controlled substance--by chemical extraction or chemical synthesis. Stated differently, section 11379.6(a) does not simply make unlawful the processing of concentrated cannabis as does section 11358. It prohibits and punishes the specific means used to process marijuana plant material into concentrated cannabis. In this sense section 11379.6(a) is a more narrowly drawn statute, covering only specific methods of processing 'marijuana'--which by statutory definition includes concentrated cannabis." (Ibid.) The Bergen court noted the "conclusion section 11379.6(a) applies to the production of concentrated cannabis by means of chemical extraction is reinforced by a 1991 opinion of the California Attorney General." (Ibid., citing 74 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 70, 75 (1991).) That report stated a "chemical extraction" under section 11379.6, subdivision (a) would include "'the extraction of resinous THC tetrahydrocannabinol or hashish from marijuana.'" (Bergen, at p. 170.)