CBD company planning to occupy Woodgrain property
The old Woodgrain Millwork facility that has sat vacant for the past three years is poised to become the home of a new business.
But that business will have nothing to do with wood products.
Freedom Hemp Co and Freedom CBD, based in Culver, intend to take over the site in the near future and use it for processing CBD (cannabidoil) products derived from hemp.
"We are acquiring that 54-acre site and remodeling a portion of that facility to expand our existing operation in Culver," said Brian Peavey, the business's managing director and CEO as well as its part owner and co-founder.
The business first launched in January 2018. Freedom Hemp Co is the farming brand and the seed and genetics company and Freedom CBD is the CBD production and extraction company.
Though the business is not yet two years old, its history extends well beyond that timeframe. Peavey points out that several of the people involved have been in the cannabis industry for years, including Brian Smalley, the business's principle partner who has been raising large-scale genetics and doing extractions for 20-plus years.
Though the legalities of cannabis have sparked controversy in recent years, Peavey stresses that the industrial hemp that Freedom Hemp Co grows is 100 percent compliant with federal law.
"The 2014 Farm Bill opened up the opportunity for this country to take advantage of a crop that was at one time the staple of our entire existence," he said. "We were excited to participate when the opportunity arose."
The 2018 Farm Bill further expanded on the 2014 provisions, Peavey continued, and removed CBD from Schedule I status, which opened up the markets across the board for their main production product.
Peavey points out that the industrial hemp that Freedom Hemp Co grows contains less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the intoxicating ingredient in cannabis), and is 100% federally complaint.
"Therefore, it should be treated just like corn, soybeans or any other USDA agricultural commodity," he said.
The products that the business creates are intended for a variety of uses. While the FDA has not yet ruled on the health benefits of CBD, Peavey said that business customers have used it to help with inflammation, depression or anxiety and a number of other ailments.
The business is currently working through the City of Prineville land use process. Because CBD production is considered an industrial use, there is no need for a zone change on the property, just a change of use.
"Ultimately, we are addressing due diligence items," Peavey explained. "Once those due diligence items are completed in the next month or two, we will be able to start construction — obviously pending building permits and approval through the city."
Phase one of the Prineville operation, as it is currently envisioned, is to use roughly 78,000 square feet of the property for an extraction facility. Peavey notes that the biggest bottleneck in the CBD industry currently is processing, and business leaders hope to utilize the facility to provide large-scale processing services.
No formal plans have been made for the remainder of the site, although Peavey said that he sees potential for adding storing or drying facilities, both of which are lacking in the Central Oregon infrastructure.
Freedom Hemp Co and Freedom CBD launched in Central Oregon because they saw great value in the farming relationships in the region and because the climate here and in Eastern Oregon is optimal for hemp farming.
"You don't have heavy humidity late in the production of the crop, so you end up with a better opportunity to have mold-free hemp production," Peavey stated.
And in Prineville, they saw an opportunity to not only revitalize a vacated facility, but contribute to a community and its economy.
"One of the things that we particularly enjoy doing as a company is lifting up farmers and lifting up communities and creating a win-win scenario for both the farmers and the community," Peavey remarked. "Prineville offered us that opportunity with that Woodgrain site being underutilized. We see an opportunity within Prineville with both the employment sector and the talent pool that is there."
An appeal period for the proposed project concluded this past Wednesday. Notice was sent out to neighboring residences near the end of April, and City Planning Director Josh Smith said he fielded three phone calls about the project, only one of whom submitted any concerns in writing. The city planning department subsequently issued a change of use approval.
"We look forward to getting started," Peavey said, "hiring people and getting to work remodeling that facility to make it a shining gem of extraction in Central Oregon."