A Desert Hot Springs cannabis company has found a way to repurpose their extraction facility as a hand sanitizer production line for the benefit of health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
From the Earth LLC makes THC distillate at its extraction facility located on the 160-acre Coachillin’ Canna-Business Park on Indian Canyon Drive. It opened in January, just a few months before the heightened spread of the coronavirus put a strain on much-needed sanitation supplies.
CEO Dan Zaharoni said one of his investors mentioned that their extraction equipment could be used for making hand sanitizer just a few days before California’s shelter-in-place order kicked in, around the same time demand for such products began to grow and the supply began to tighten.
After checking out newly issued guidelines with the Food and Drug Administration, Zaharoni figured out his company could order the simple ingredients — including ethyl alcohol — and produce 70 to 100 gallons of hand sanitizer week.
“It’s part of our civic duty,” Zaharoni said. “We’re very happy we have the facilities and the resources that we can help out during this crisis, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Typically the facility creates THC distillate, a kind of cannabis concentrate used in vape pens or edibles. The multi-step manufacturing process means that certain pieces of equipment aren’t in use at all times, so employees at the facility can mix up the hand sanitizer without affecting their current production timeline.
Once produced and packaged, the hand sanitizer will be donated to hospitals in the communities where From the Earth has facilities — the Coachella Valley, Ventura County, Pomona and Long Beach, Zaharoni said.
Production started this week and will continue for the foreseeable future.
“We’ll continue pushing out as much as we can produce, as long as there are people out there who can use it, as long as there’s a need,” he said.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group says the cost of hand sanitizer has skyrocketed since the World Health Organization declared a state of emergency on Jan. 30. The price is at least 50% higher than the 90-day average as the coronavirus spreads, U.S. PIRG said.
Like From the Earth, various companies have responded: some distillers began making hand sanitizer, as has CannaCraft, a Santa Rosa-based manufacturer that will donate the tubes to nonprofits, customers, employees and essential businesses.
The FDA announced guidelines for donated hand sanitizer on March 20, while acknowledging “significant supply disruptions for alcohol-based hand sanitizers.” The agency said it wouldn’t take action against any companies that stick to the guidelines even if they’re not recognized drug manufacturers.