November 27th, 2020

Hemp oil biz bringing 250 jobs

By Collin Gallant on January 30, 2019.

Mayor Ted Clugston speaks to the audience at the State of the City Address, co-sponsored by the Kiwanis Club and Chamber of Commerce. The luncheon was held Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019 at the Medicine Hat Lodge.

Hemp oil producer Folium Biosciences is planning to build extraction and processing facilities in Medicine Hat this year, bringing with it 250 full-time jobs, officials with the Colorado-based company announced Tuesday.

The news, delivered at the Mayor’s State of the City Address, caused a major stir among the several hundred attendees when mayor Ted Clugston touted the progress made on economic development over the past year.

In concluded with the announcement that the Colorado-based company will build two facilities, totalling 180,000-square-feet, in land located in the Box Springs Business Park as part of its Canadian expansion. Local production would satisfy domestic Canadian demand, and also be exported to Commonwealth countries and Latin America.

Company CEO Kashif Shan said with new, local cannabis greenhouse projects and work of Medicine Hat’s investment attraction team, Invest Medicine Hat, the decision was made to locate here.

“We’re a relationship-based company,” said Shan. “When we’re looking to expand, we look for communities that are welcoming and understand what we do.

“Our experience here has been exceptional.”

Hemp farming in Alberta and a growing cannabis hub here were also attractive, he said.

“With Aurora Cannabis’ and our presence here, Medicine Hat can be a global leader in the new Cannabis (sector) space,” said Shan, stressing that his enterprise model is separate from recreational of medicinal marijuana.

His company completely extracts the psycho-reactive substance of TCH from industrial hemp leaving only cannabinnoid product, or CDB, which is increasingly being studied as a medicinal element.

Shan says his company’s process removes 100 per cent of TCH from industrial hemp crops, making it a premium product for some customers. It is used in creams, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Relaxation to Canadian and U.S. laws that govern hemp growing have led to a large amount of interest in the substance.

“It’s cannabis adjacent, I suppose; Industrial hemp is a cousin to the cannabis plant,” said Ryan Jackson, manager of Invest Medicine Hat, which began discussion with Folium a year ago.

“Jobs are the short-term win, but long-term, we’re creating a new sector. The market has created it, and Medicine Hat will be held up as a global leader.”

Jackson said potential spin-off industries could involve cosmetic or other manufacturing for hemp fibre or byproducts, shipping and logistics.

“We’re continue to hold ourselves out there in this space,” he said.

Clugston’s main speech focused on positive economic news of 2018, especially securing the massive Aurora growing facility.

“It put us on the map,” he told reporters. “People do a search for Medicine Hat, people ask what’s going on, let’s go have a look.”

Folium claims to be the world’s largest CBD supplier, and plans here to build a 110,000-square-foot extraction plant and a 70,000 square foot packaging and manufacturing plant, with Shan also describing research facilities and the need for some highly skilled workers.

He expects some level of operation to be underway in early 2020.

Based in Colorado, the company currently employs 250 workers and contracts growers on several thousand acres, with plans to double its U.S. workforce this year

In southeast Alberta, the company is also seeking to get growers under contract and expects his demand to require about 10,000 acres under contract in several years. The company will soon apply to Health Canada to certify its seed type for use.

“Farmers will be a critical part of what we do,” he said.

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