By Nathan Oster
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
GREYBULL — A group of investors who are looking to get in on the ground floor of the nascent hemp production industry has agreed to the terms of the purchase of three lots totaling 2.52 acres in the Greybull Business Park.
Big Horn Hemp, LLC., will pay the Town of Greybull $7,560 under the terms of the agreement, which was approved Monday night by the Greybull Town Council. The appraised value of the three lots is $15,043, but just as it did on the other lots in the business park, the town is selling them for less than full market value in anticipation of reaping the economic development benefits down the road.
Gerald Crist, the spokesman for Big Horn Hemp LLC, told the council his group of investors is planning to raise four acres of hemp in the Shell Valley next growing season and wants to build a hemp drying and storage facility in the business park.
Crist said the investors plan to do most of the labor themselves in the first year, as they wish to prove their concept and farming practices. They plan to hire additional help — approximately four to six workers — during the harvest season, which typically lasts from a month to six weeks, he said.
The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the controlled substance list and turned its regulation over to the states. Lawmakers in Wyoming voted to legalize industrial hemp earlier this year, but the regulatory plan that was submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture has yet to be approved. Until that occurs, it will remain illegal to grow or produce the product in Wyoming.
Crist said the investment group he represents is confident that the USDA will approve the regulatory plan in relatively short order, and that come spring, they will be ready to proceed with plans for their first hemp crop.
Crist said Big Horn Hemp would need to find a processor to convert its dried hemp into CDB oil. He said the potential exists down the road for a local processing facility to be built — that is, if enough hemp growers emerge in the Big Horn Basin to warrant it. He told the council “the sky is the limit” in the hemp production industry, noting that there is worldwide demand.
Kent Richens, the town attorney, drilled deeper into the proposal, asking Crist a number of specific questions about what type of economic development would be spun off if the sale goes through as planned.
Crist said it would initially be the cost of the facility — site work, construction, etc. “But as we expand, we will need more workers to assist, so we hope to be able to expand our facility at that time,” he added.
Crist said the difference between the type of industrial hemp that is grown to produce CDB oil and marijuana lies in their THC contents.
“Marijuana has a 30-percent THC but CDB cannot exceed 0.3 percent,” he said. “You could smoke an entire acre of it and not get high.”
Chris affirmed under questioning from Richens that he and his investors were aware of the assessments that are forthcoming and indicated that he does not anticipate the facility being an annoyance to neighbors in any way. The hemp will be covered until it enters the building; at that point it will be hung for drying purposes. He said he anticipates no noise and no exhaust and that the investors plan to purchase materials and supplies needed for the construction from local sources.
Under the agreement approved Monday night, Big Horn Hemp, LLC, was given 90 days to close on the purchase and must meet its construction milestone of building completion within one year.