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St. Helens Hemp Works is awarded the Better Business Bureau Torch award for ethical business practices.

COURTESY PHOTO: ST. HELENS HEMP WORKS - St. Helens Hemp Works owner Mike Stoedter, along with his partner Marlene Hanson.The Better Business Bureau has given a thumbs-up to a local St. Helens business that is one of the country's first hemp processing companies to be certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

BBB Great West + Pacific, which serves Oregon and several other Western states, awarded St. Helens Hemp Works with its 2021 Torch Award for Ethics.

Winners of this award are selected based on their commitment to operational integrity and ethical business practices.

Established in 2017, St. Helens Hemp Works, according to their website, is a family-owned and -operated business that specializes in producing CBD oil from hemp. It uses carbon dioxide, or CO2, in its extraction process.

Oregon began issuing permits for industrial hemp growers in 2015, after voters passed Ballot Measure 91.

That measure is best known for legalizing marijuana for recreational use. However, it also changed Oregon law to expressly allow industrial hemp production, stating that federal law is not a valid reason to deny permits to hemp growers.

By the time Oregon began issuing industrial hemp growers permits in 2015, St. Helens Hemp Works states on its website, "our appreciation and belief in the many benefits of cannabinoidal therapy was well established. In winter 2016, we selected our supercritical CO2 extractor and started building our state of the art extraction facility in St. Helens."

St. Helens Hemp Works produces several products for consumers, such as elixers, recovery gel and relief balm.

Mike Stoedter, who owns the business along with his partner, Marlene Hanson, was pleased to receive the award.

"I would like to thank the Better Business Bureau for this prestigious award," Stoedter said. "We're very excited about it and what it can do for our company."

Stoedter continued, "We really started the business as, 'Hey, let's provide the cleanest, best products we can and to really look after the people.'"

Describing his business, Stoedter said, "The business model was basically to do a CO2 extraction of industrial hemp, to make CBD products. That basically was one of the cleanest forms of extraction — and still is. We wanted to produce clean products."

Describing some of his products, Stoedter said recovery gel is a topical that can be used on joints. Another product, relief balm, is similar to the gel in that it can also be applied to joints. St. Helens Hemp Works also produces a line of gel capsules.

"We also make a certified organic olive oil, which can be used in cooking," he said, noting the company also produces lotions and massage oils.

For those wondering if working with hemp is like working with marijuana, Stoedter notes that while marijuana and hemp are both cannabis plants, hemp is a different strain that doesn't have marijuana's psychoactive properties.

"The way they distinguish the difference between hemp and marijuana is the THC content," he said. "For all of our products that go to any consumer, they need to be 0.3 percent or below THC. That is really the way the laws have distinguished the two. … Anything above is considered marijuana."

Federal law now classifies hemp as an agricultural commodity, rather than as a controlled substance, a change made as part of the 2018 farm bill. A bipartisan quartet of senators from Oregon and Kentucky — Democrats Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden from the Beaver State, and Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul from the Bluegrass State — was instrumental in pushing for the reclassification, which has made CBD and other hemp-derived products more widely available.

Stoedter feels good about the Torch Award and what it means for his St. Helens business.

"We wouldn't be here without our farmers," he said. "We're really proud to be part of this industry and really look forward to helping as many consumers as we can."


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