"A Canadian cannabis business giant has bought Berks County-based hemp company AgriNextUSA as part of a plan to build up its hemp reach in the United States.
Canopy Growth Corporation is planning to build a series of industrial hemp parks across the country, including Pennsylvania, as part of its expansion plan.
"The United States is the next stop on Canopy Growth's desired path to becoming a leading, revenue-generating company focused on all aspects of cannabinoids and their potential," said Bruce Linton, co-CEO and chairman of Canopy Growth.
AgriNextUSA is a hemp enterprise led by Geoff Whaling, who owns a farm in Maidencreek Township. He said the hemp parks will include textile mills and cannabidiol, or CBD, extraction facilities.
"Hemp has the potential to become a multi-billion-dollar industry that will boost the American economy for generations to come," said Whaling, who also serves as chairman of the National Hemp Association and president of the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council.
Whaling, a native of Canada who now lives in Berks County, has proposed a 20-acre complex in Maidencreek Township that would include a hemp decortication plant, bio-mass and bio-fuel center, a public education center, a model home, an animal care unit, nutritional processing, an industrial matting and weaving unit, and a genetics development center.
Whaling said he will also be reaching out to farmers to encourage them to grow the hemp, which can be used for many commercial items, including paper, clothing, paint and more.
"By working with Canopy Growth, we will turn our vision into a reality, one that helps American farmers, small and medium-sized business owners, and the next cohort of innovators who see the extraordinary potential that hemp has to offer," Whaling said."
"If you’re looking to get high, a new CBD store in Emmaus isn’t for you.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in marijuana and hemp. Unlike THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, CBD does not get a person “high.”
In fact, few clinical studies have been done with CBD, which has only been seriously examined in recent years, said Marcel Bonn-Miller, the research director for the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp at Thomas Jefferson University.
But anecdotal accounts attribute a myriad of benefits to the product, including relief from pain, anxiety and depression.
Soon, Lehigh Valley residents will be able to decide for themselves. A CBD store, called Your CBD Store, is set to open at 344 Main St. in downtown Emmaus next month — the seventh such store in Pennsylvania.
Other shops in the Lehigh Valley have been selling CBD products, and just this week, CVS announced it will begin selling the compound at more than 800 stores — though not in Pennsylvania yet.
The Emmaus Your CBD Store targets an audience of those 40 and older, though there are no age limits. The product is legal and the store does not require any special permits.
The store will sell CBD products derived from hemp, including candies, water solubles, tinctures, bath bombs and lotion, said manager Jonathan Valera, who will manage the store alongside his brother, Jeffrey, and his mother, Clara Fernandez, who owns the store. Previously the family was in insurance, Valera said.
The products range in price from $10 for 2 oz. of moisturizing lotion to $300 for 30 ml of tincture, according to the store’s website.
“We saw the opportunity and we were just like, man, this would be awesome,” Valera said. “We did research on the benefits and things going on with CBD. It was a no-brainer at that point. If we can help people and set up shop, why not?”
"When William Hartmann opened Royal Oaks Vineyard & Winery in North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, it was like a dream come true.
Growing cannabis plants? That was never part of the dream.
“People who I know that dabbled in that stuff think it’s a joke because I’m doing it,” he said.
Desperate times, though, call for desperate measures. A dispute with the township forced Hartmann to shut down part of his business and put his entire vineyard in jeopardy.
By turning to the potentially lucrative but unstable world of recently legalized industrial hemp, Hartmann knows he’s taking a risk -- one people close to him urged him not to take. But if it pays off, it might give him the money he needs to keep his winery."
"Canopy Growth Corporation, the Canadian cannabis behemoth is acquiring AgriNextUSA of Reading, Pa., with an eye to building its hemp business in the United States.
AgriNextUSA has been headed by Geoff Whaling, an evangelist for hemp and all its many applications. Whaling said Canopy’s chairman, Bruce Linton, called him right after President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp and asked “when are we growing hemp?”
Whaling would not say how much Canopy Growth was paying for AgriNextUSA.
Whaling, the self-styled “Hemporer” of America, sees hemp becoming a multi-billion dollar industry. And he’s not alone. Analysts for Cowen and Company predict that U.S. revenues for just one range of hemp products — manufactured with the extract cannabidiol or CBD — could explode to be worth $16 billion annually by 2025.
Whaling, who will serve as a strategic advisor to Canopy Growth, has been buddies with the company’s principals since the Ontario-based corporation was a tiny outfit of only 20 people. Canopy now employs thousands in a dozen countries and is the largest cannabis and hemp company on the planet with a market capitalization of $15.7 billion.
Whaling, president of the National Hemp Association and Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council, said his first project with Canopy Growth will be to get a Hemp Industrial Park up and running near Binghamton, N.Y.
“We expect to hire a few hundred people,” he said. “This is moving very, very quickly.” Planting of this years hemp crop could begin in less than seven weeks.
“We want to rekindle this once-great American industry,” Whaling said. “Right now there’s no infrastructure or supply chain to support it. No equipment or facilities.”
The remedy to that, he said, is a series of Hemp Industrial Parks across the country complete with textile mills and CBD extraction facilities. He hopes to plant one such industrial park in Pennsylvania, “because this was once the epicenter for hemp in America.”
Ross Duffield, the former manager of the Rodale Institute’s experimental farm near Kutztown, was hired by Canopy to become the national cultivation manager, Whaling said."
Canopy Growth is acquiring AgriNextUSA of Reading, Pa., founded by an Geoff Whaling, an evangelist for hemp. Whaling has already hired some hemp heavyweights with an eye to building Hemp Industrial Pa...