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A North Carolina-based industrial hemp company has built a new facility in Neeses for cannabis oil extraction.

Carolina CannaTech located its 2,400-square-foot cannabidiol facility on a 50-acre parcel of Carolina Fresh Farms’ 3,000-acre hemp and sod farm. The farm is located on Savannah Highway south of Neeses.

“Our food-grade facility enables us to bring hemp-processing in-house, giving us greater control of quality and cost,” Carolina CannaTech co-founder John Jameson said.

“We now grow, harvest and extract our hemp on-site, furthering our mission to vertically integrate our company and make CBD more accessible and affordable to the consumer,” he said.

Company did not comment on the cost of the investment except to describe it as “significant.”

The farm employs three with plans to expand the extraction facility, according to company officials.

Carolina CannaTech worked in partnership with New River Distilling Company in Boone, North Carolina, to design and build the equipment and systems.

The local investors are Andy Fogle and Carolina Fresh Farms.

The facility uses extraction and evaporating methods and equipment to turn their farm-grown hemp into crude oil and eventually to a distillate, or full-spectrum CBD, which is used in Nature’s Highways products. Nature’s Highway is the company’s own CBD product brand.

The operation includes the entire process including planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying and extracting CBD from the hemp plants.

Starting as small seedlings in a greenhouse, the hemp is planted organically and grown throughout the spring, summer and fall.

The crop is then harvested, dried and prepared for extraction.

The facility will also provide hemp-extracting services to other CBD companies via Carolina CannaTech, its parent company.

Orangeburg County Development Commission Executive Director Gregg Robinson said, “All investment is good in our county.

“This is clearly a new market and a new opportunity for really the Southeast now that CDB has been licensed and approved.”

“We are excited that Orangeburg County with its agricultural nature can assist in anything that is medicinal and anything that improves the quality of life,” he said. “It is a clean process and we welcome them with open arms and success.”

Hemp has been grown for the third straight year in Orangeburg County and for the first time there was no cap on the number of growers or acres that could be grown.

“Any new processing facility that plans to buy raw material from South Carolina farmers will be a good thing,” said Justin Ballew, Clemson Extension horticulture agent. “Over the last two growing seasons, a lack of buyers has been the number one hurdle for growers trying to expand the hemp industry.”

“If this facility is able to offer prices that are attractive to growers, making hemp a profitable crop for them, it is possible the acreage around Orangeburg, and possibly other areas of South Carolina, will increase,” Ballew said. “Of course, this will also depend on the quantity of hemp this facility is able to buy and process each season.”

Ballew said he is hoping Carolina CannaTech is successful.

“South Carolina hemp growers desperately need honest and reliable buyers in order for this industry to grow,” he said.

There are currently 14 hemp processors permitted by the S.C. Department of Agriculture in the state. About 260 growers were permitted by the S.C. Department of Agriculture for 2020.

“As of now, hemp remains a relatively small crop,” he said.

The federal Farm Bill signed into law in 2014 approved the growth of hemp for research purposes in the states that allow it. S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill into law in May 2018 making it legal for farmers to grow the crop.

Hemp’s THC concentration cannot exceed .3% on a dried-weight basis. Anything above that is considered marijuana and is illegal in the state.

While CBD is a component of hemp, by itself it does not cause a “high.” CBD has been touted for a wide variety of health issues.

Carolina CannaTech, formerly M&H Extractions of the Carolinas, is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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