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First Hemp Processing Plant Opens in Colorado

PHOTO Phillip Needham


First Hemp Processing Plant Opens in Colorado

Hemp processing has always been a thing of wonder. The plant, which processes into a pulpy substance, has the potential to be made into thousands of products and goods, including paper, textiles, clothing, food products, biofuels and even cars and planes. And yet, due to the propaganda of the early 20th century, hemp has been federally illegal for mainstream production for almost a century. Even today it remains illegal on a federal level, despite the numerous different uses that it could be used for in production through the country.

Now that the tide has begun to change on views about cannabis and hemp, states are beginning to realize the potential in growing hemp on a grand level. In fact, some states have already legalized hemp production and have begun to grow and use the plant to create a plethora of useful everyday products.

According to reports, Colorado has now joined the ranks of professional hemp production and has opened up the state’s first large-scale hemp processing plant. The state legalized the right to grow hemp in 2012, when it voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but it has taken them a while to jump through the legal and federal hoops to get the hemp processing project initiated.

The plant, named PureVision Technology, is located in Fort Lupton, Colorado and has the potential to bring even more money into the state by growing hemp and processing it into useful goods and products that are vastly stronger and more durable than products made with other materials.

The hemp plant is technically cannabis, but it lacks the psychoactive properties found in the form of the plant that is cultivated for recreational and medicinal use. However, the fibers that can be harvested from hemp are extremely strong and durable, as well as being adaptable to many different uses like foodstuffs and textiles.

Because hemp still remains illegal under federal law, hemp processing plants are rare even in states where it has been legalized. This also forces the process to be difficult to do, seeing as processing plants have to do all of their growing and processing by hand, making it a bit of a laborious industry to be a part of.

But this hasn’t stopped growers from producing it, like Dani Billings, a hemp grower who has been working on growing industrial hemp since last year.

“It’s going to save the world. It has thousands of uses, and it’s sustainable,” Billings claims. “Clothes, shoes, chairs, literally everything that we are in right now can be made from hemp. It just needs to get going.”

And with how easy it is to grow the plant itself, it should be able to get going very quickly.

“I would say it grows like a weed,” Billings comments. “You throw it in the ground and watch it grow.”

Ed Lehrburger, the president and CEO of PureVision Technology, recently led Jaclyn Allen, a reporter from ABC 7 News, around the facility on a tour that showcased the company’s vision for the future of hemp production and processing in Colorado. Lehrburger showed Allen where scientists are utilizing new technologies and processing methods to quickly turn the stalks of the hemp plant into a kind of pulp that can be manufactured into the various items that are possible for hemp to become, including a sustainable alternative to fuels known as biofuel.

“Some of our clients are specifically trying to get away from oil-based products that they sell globally to bio-based products,” explains Lehrburger.

“Our tagline is pioneering the hemp revolution.”

Once PureVision Technology has grown enough hemp to begin the production process, the company plans to process about a half-ton of the plant every day. But once the business begins to rise and the company is able to procure a larger facility, the company estimates they will be able to process around 25 tons a day. And this is expected to happen by this fall, meaning it won’t take long at all for this business model to expand at an exponential rate.

Experts on hemp production have estimated that there are around 25,000 uses for industrial hemp. The Hemp Industries Association estimates that the total U.S. retail value of hemp products in 2014 came in at $620 million, meaning it truly is a cash crop for the nation. The U.S currently leads the world in hemp imports, shipping in most of its supply from Canada and China even though the federal government maintains its prohibition on the plant.

But nonetheless, in states where the production of hemp has been legalized, the plant can become one of the most useful commodities to production businesses and be made in thousands and thousands of different materials and products. If the sentiments surrounding the production of hemp begin to go the way that similar sentiments are for cannabis use, then the United States could become the leader in hemp productions very soon.

With the ease of growing methods, low maintenance during growth and a wide range of uses, it seems that hemp may be the new go-to material when it comes to producing pretty much anything.

What do you think about the production and processing of hemp products in the United States? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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