March 5, 2021
NEESES, S.C. (AP) — An industrial hemp company based in North Carolina has built a new cannabis oil extraction facility in a South Carolina town.
Carolina CannaTech built its 2,400-square-foot (223 square-meter) cannabidiol facility on a 50-acre (20-hectare) parcel of Carolina Fresh Farm’s 3,000-acre (1,214 hectare) hemp and sod farm just south of Neeses, The Times and Democrat reported.
“Our food-grade facility enables us to bring hemp-processing in-house, giving us greater control of quality and cost,” Carolina CannaTech co-founder John Jameson said.
“We now grow, harvest and extract our hemp on-site, furthering our mission to vertically integrate our company and make CBD more accessible and affordable to the consumer,” he said.
Company officials declined to comment on the cost of the investment except to describe it as “significant.”
The farm currently employs three people with plans to expand the extraction facility, company officials said.
Carolina CannaTech worked with New River Distilling Company in Boone, North Carolina, to design and build the facility’s equipment and systems. The local investors are Andy Fogle and Carolina Fresh Farms.
The facility uses extraction and evaporating methods and equipment to turn their farm-grown hemp into crude oil and eventually to a distillate, or full-spectrum CBD, which is used in Nature’s Highways products, the company’s own CBD product brand. The facility will also provide hemp extracting services to other CBD companies via Carolina CannaTech, its parent company.
“This is clearly a new market and a new opportunity for really the Southeast now that CDB has been licensed and approved,” said Gregg Robinson, executive director of Orangeburg County Development Commission.
“We are excited that Orangeburg County with its agricultural nature can assist in anything that is medicinal and anything that improves the quality of life,” he said. “It is a clean process and we welcome them with open arms and success.”
Hemp has been grown for the third straight year in Orangeburg County, and for the first time there was no cap on the number of growers or acres that could be developed.
“Any new processing facility that plans to buy raw material from South Carolina farmers will be a good thing,” said Justin Ballew, Clemson Extension horticulture agent. “Over the last two growing seasons, a lack of buyers has been the number one hurdle for growers trying to expand the hemp industry.”
“If this facility is able to offer prices that are attractive to growers, making hemp a profitable crop for them, it is possible the acreage around Orangeburg, and possibly other areas of South Carolina, will increase,” Ballew continued. “Of course, this will also depend on the quantity of hemp this facility is able to buy and process each season.”
There are currently 14 hemp processors permitted by the S.C. Department of Agriculture.
Ballew said hemp acreage is expected to be down this year from 2019 numbers. The state Department of Agriculture has permitted about 260 growers for this season but Ballew said not all of them ended up planting.
Hemp’s THC concentration cannot exceed .3% on a dried-weight basis. Anything above that is considered marijuana and is illegal in the state. While CBD is a component of hemp, by itself it does not cause a “high.” CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues.