Hemp has had an unfortunate history. For years, it was classified as a Class 1 Controlled substance, and it was illegal to grow, market or sell cannabis or cannabis-derived products. This was a severe setback, hindering research into the plant’s abilities and applications.
The 2018 Farm Bill changed all that, classifying cannabis with less than 0.3% THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound that gives users a psychoactive high, as legal industrial hemp. Farmers in all states and tribes were given the green light to farm industrial hemp under State and Tribal programs.
A year later, the hemp industry is going strong, with an abundance of demand. Panda Biotech, a Dallas-based company, recently made an announcement that is sure to ripple through the American hemp industry.
The company announced that it is developing a 250,000 square foot hemp processing facility in Lubbock County, Texas, calling it the largest industrial hemp processing facility in the U.S. Dubbed the ‘Panda High Plains Hemp Gin,’ the facility will be used to separate hemp fiber and cellulose from the stalk, producing high quality, textile-grade fiber and premium cellulose.
“Hemp fiber and cellulose will help manufacturers meet the needs of today’s eco-conscious customers who increasingly require environmentally friendly products and services,” says Scott Evans, Executive Vice President of Panda Biotech. “As a result, hemp will be a game-changer for both agriculture and industry for generations to come.”
The Shallowater facility is expected to be the largest in the U.S., and one of the largest in the world.
According to the Mayor of Shallowater, Ryoking Potter, “The City of Shallowater is excited to promote the cutting edge industrial hemp processing facility Panda Biotech is bringing to our community. The Panda High Plains Hemp Gin’ will not only generate new revenue with minimal effects on infrastructure but will also create new jobs in our community. This technology will also greatly benefit the agricultural industry and the producers in the West Texas region.”
Hemp is an insanely versatile crop, with dozens of industrial applications. It can be used to make sturdy bioplastics, building materials, and fabrics. Not to mention its nutritional value. Currently, the global market for industrial hemp is $4.6 billion, and it is expected to grow to $32 billion by 2022.
Hemp is also known for producing cannabidiol, a compound that’s taken the world by storm. It is a potent and versatile natural medicine, perfectly capable of handling a variety of medical conditions. Like the hemp market, the CBD market is currently worth billions, and experts project even greater growth in the coming years.
One would be tempted to believe that the announcement of the mega processing center is likely to nudge other industry players, such as The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. (TSX: TGOD) (OTCQX: TGODF) and Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP), to expand their operations in order to get a deserving share of the ballooning market for hemp products.
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