President Trump has just signed the Farm Bill. Today hemp is completely removed from the Controlled Substances Act, and the federally legal production of hemp-derived CBD is clarified for all. As Kentucky's first hemp pilot program dedicated specifically and exclusively to researching and commercializing hemp-derived CBD our choice to come to Kentucky was not obvious to all. Today demonstrates the strategic significance of that choice. Our company President, Steve Bevan and I were discussing our decision to come to Kentucky five years ago when he said that decision has “paved the way for our stewardship and leadership into the global marketplace.” I could not have said it better myself.
In early 2014, I sat with then-Agriculture Commissioner and now-Congressman James Comer. James campaigned on hemp revitalizing the state economy and quickly fulfilled his promise to bring hemp back to Kentucky. I pitched the upside of hemp-derived CBD in Kentucky explaining with the proper support Kentucky could be the global home of hemp and CBD production. He assured me that we had his full support.
His support was clear when he sued the DEA for seizing hemp seeds sent to Kentucky. In court, the DEA quickly cut a deal to avoid national disclosure. So, Kentucky won that battle, a legal watershed moment for the entire hemp industry.
Thank you, Congressman Comer. Thank you, Kentucky, for your independence and loyalty.
That same year we began to recruit farmers from the local community. We met the Shell family, a fourth-generation farming family led by patriarch Gary Shell. Like many farming families they experienced a significant decline in their earnings as tobacco companies grew unpopular and moved much of their production off American soil. Gary and his family knew they needed a replacement crop and were intrigued by hemp but were turned off because of its association with marijuana. With my co-founders Steve and Chris, we explained that unlike marijuana, hemp does not provide the feared “high” and that much research was underway to validate the health and wellness benefits of CBD and other healthy cannabinoids. The Shells were skeptical but decided to give us a try. Their belief in us paid off. This year the Shells harvested well over 100,000 pounds of hemp biomass. More importantly, Gary has given several members of his church family our CBD products to lessen pain and improve their well-being. He has experienced the joy of using the hemp plant to help others. Our partnership with the Shell family has served as a template for how we can drive meaningful change in communities across Kentucky.
Thank you, to the Shell family and all our family farming partners. Thank you, Kentucky, for your faith.
Partnership is a critical part of our company’s success, and is best exemplified through Steve. He led us to co-found the U.S. Hemp Round Table, which is now the leading voice of the hemp industry boasting more than 60 member companies. USHR recently released the first national standards and quality certifications for the hemp industry and has the support of the nation’s leading hemp and CBD producers.
Our approach to partnership has led to us achieving many firsts in Kentucky, including the first U.S. hemp CBD cultivars, building the first U.S. commercial hemp-specific crop processor “Big Blue”, Kentucky’s first internal lab and the first multi-year processing MOU in the state. In August 2016, our passion for CBD from hemp helped as KDA led by Commissioner Ryan Quarles, publicly acknowledged that hemp-derived CBD oils and extracts from floral material were the key economic drivers constructing the bourgeoning industry.
Steve and the U.S. Hemp RoundTable leadership helped in Washington D.C. as well. Starting with leadership from Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his staff, the message that hemp is a crop and hemp is food resonated. The extremely positive economic impact in Kentucky was the example needed to show federal leaders that research pilot programs could evolve into a new agricultural industry. This fundamental understanding was key to national hemp legalization in the 2018 Farm Bill. The importance of Steve’s quiet industry stewardship cannot be overstated. The openness of Kentucky political leadership enabled his hard work to be realized.
Thank You, Commissioner Quarles. Thank You to all Kentucky regulators for providing us with a regulatory framework that enables success. Thank You, Senator McConnell. Thank You, Kentucky for your leadership.
Now that the Farm Bill has passed, you will see the industry focus shift to standards and compliance. Our Chief Science Officer, Chris Stubbs has been working diligently for years to develop internal and industry standards for consumer and product safety. He understood many years ago that CBD products needed chain-of-custody tracking and needed to adhere to federal food safety regulations.
This is all built-in to the GenCanna Production Platform, the nation’s first fully vertically-integrated supply chain for CBD ingredients and finished goods. Chris and his team have driven quality and standards on the platform and as a result we are GMP-compliant, compliant with the Food Safety Modernization Act and are expecting to be BRC-compliant during the first quarter of 2019. Our facilities and production processes are food safe, inspected and registered by the FDA and State Department of Health. Our products are certified Kosher and meet or exceed international food grade standards with respect to purity, microbiology, heavy metals and residual solvents.
Thank you, Kentucky for providing our home to lead the nation.
With all these accomplishments we still feel that our work is just beginning. We feel like the passage of the Farm Bill signifies not only Kentucky's commitment to CBD derived from hemp but also America's continued commitment to global excellence.
From Kentucky we will continue to steward and develop cannabinoid science and will make Kentucky the Silicon Valley of Hemp. We are expanding our Central Kentucky operations and have recently announced operations in West Kentucky, from Paducah to Mayfield. We are partnering with Atalo Holdings, and together will provide our farming communities with a first-class platform to grow on. We are significantly expanding our processing capacity. We will continue to attract and relocate global experts and institutions making Kentucky the hub and home of our global hemp network. By bringing the best and brightest to Kentucky we will unlock the hemp platform, including:
Many fail to realize the global Agriculture economy is the largest economic sector. Hemp will transform into a sector leader. Most importantly, we will continue to approach our work from a triple bottom line perspective putting people and the environment over our profits.
Thank You Kentucky.