Tennessee’s largest hemp biomass processing and extracting facility, Blühen Botanicals, is entering the CBD Oil business. Announced on September 13, Blühen hopes that once CBD Oil production begins, they will be one of the largest hemp processing and extraction facilities in the Southeast.
Tennessee has rather interesting laws regarding cannabis, considering that before they became the “bluegrass” state, they were rather well known for their tobacco fields.
Tennessee’s medical cannabis program passed in April 2014 (SB 2531) which changed the definition of marijuana to provide a small legal exception for the possession and use of low levels of THC or CBD cannabis oil for patients suffering from extreme seizures.
Two years later, Tennessee passed HB 2144, providing legal clarification allowing patients to possess CBD oils, so long as they contained no more than 0.9 percent THC and a Tennessee doctor to verify that that particular cannabis-using patient has epilepsy.
In 2014, Tennessee legislators passed SB 2531, which changed the definition of marijuana to create a legal exception for the possession and use of low-THC, CBD-rich cannabis oil solely by patients with intractable seizures. The law authorizes a state university to grow and manufacture the oil, which can have no more than 0.9 percent THC.
In 2016, the Tennessee legislature passed HB 2144 that clarified that patients might possess CBD oils with no more than 0.9 percent THC if they have “a legal order or recommendation” and they or an immediate family member have been diagnosed with epilepsy by a Tennessee doctor.
Additionally, cannabis can only be legally produced and manufactured by a University in Putnam County — which can then only be used for clinical research purposes.
So how can Blühen hope to cash in on CBD oil in the Southeast with such restrictive growing requirements?
Commercial hemp cultivation in Tennessee
In one word: hemp. Commercial hemp cultivation was legalized in Tennessee in 2016. Hemp is a form of cannabis sativa and is from the same plant family as marijuana, but has less than .3 percent THC.
Blühen will utilize an old pie factory to process hemp from Tennessee farmers. They will be monitored by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and all hemp products processed through Blühen will undergo third-party testing.
Blühen will extract and produce two different types of CBD oil from the Tennessee grown-hemp. One will be 85 percent pure with trace amounts of THC, the other will be 99.99 percent pure and THC-free.
Joe Fox, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Blühen, joked “You could smoke this entire facility and it's not going to get you high.”
The former pie factory Blühen will utilize is capable of processing 2,000 pounds of hemp biomass per day. “Once we extract the CBD oils from the hemp plant, there are still a lot of things that can be accomplished with that spent biomass,” Fox stated.
Once CBD oil has been extracted from marijuana plants, the biomass can be used for making things like bio-plastics or paper-like products.
The CBD oil processed by Blühen will be sold wholesale to wellness industry retailers and distributors. Blühen is planning to release its own line of CBD oils in 2019. Till then, Blühen is focused on getting the former pie factory’s facilities online and prepared for hemp processing.
The CBD oil industry is estimated to beat $2 billion by 2020, a conservative estimate, according to recent reports.
Hopefully, the impact of the hemp industry will help pave the way for less restrictive cannabis regulations. Till then, we’ll all just have to enjoy the perfect symmetry of having a former pie factory turn into a pot factory.
*Photo Source: Blühen Botanicals