Vermont-based cannabis manufactures are anticipating rapid growth since the 2018 Farm Bill was signed by President Trump.
Noah Quist and Carl Christianson have a 10,000-square-foot hemp processing building equipped with CBD extraction technology and around 600 pounds of industrial grade hemp delivered by local farmers.
“The point is room to grow. We wanted to build something for the future and make sure we were good for expansion,” said Christianson.
Quist and Christianson have received loans from family and friends to purchase the supplies necessary for their operations. After moving into their building last June, farmers rapidly began to get in touch with the business partners.
“When we began to announce the fact that we’d be opening a high-volume extraction facility in Vermont, a lot of the farmers found us,” said Quist, who also used the state’s registry and Facebook to advertise to other growers. They are now confident they will get the hemp they need to reach their production goals. Christianson said the facility now uses 500 pounds to 750 pounds of hemp per week. Christianson expects the plant will be able to process 2,000 pounds per week in February if he has the staff and equipment in place.
“When we first started, it was, ‘Man, I hope we can find biomass,’” Quist said. “And then all of a sudden, especially around the harvest, we had thousands of pounds available to us.”
Although hemp is harvested in the fall, Quist says the supply will be year-round.
“A lot of the farmers still have it hung up in their barns,” he said. “In the cold, it preserves well, provided they hung it in time. They know there is value in what they have and they’re just looking for an outlet. As we continue to scale up I plan on being able to call them and say, ‘we’re ready for yours.’”
With the anticipation of a cannabis business boom, new Vermont processing facilities, growers, stores, and products have emerged within the last couple of years. Vermont was one of ten states to legalize recreational marijuana and CBD. The amount of registered Vermont hemp farmers has seen a 400 percent increase from 2017 to 2018.
Scott Waring is a biologist working as a consultant for the CBD business for one of the largest operations in the state, Northeast Processing.
“It’s kind of a grand experiment going on right now. The cream will rise to the top. It’s a matter of getting that regulation in there.” He stated.
In the past, banks in Vermont have been tentative to dip their toes into the cannabis industry, steering clear of any operations having to do with hemp. This will likely change as the legalities and approvals get sorted out.
Chris D’Elia, president of Vermont Bankers Association speaks on the evolving relationship of banking in the cannabis industry.
“Given actions taken by Congress in the farm bill, banks are going to consider providing access to capital and financial services for hemp-related businesses. It may take a little bit to make sure all of the players, regulators, and banks are on the same page, but it will happen.” Said D’Elia.