“It went so well that in an hour we sold out of everything,” he said.
Hemp is hot. The non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana can again be legally grown under pilot programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, and the lifting of the decades-old ban in Wisconsin this year has sparked a flurry of business activity. The 2018 harvest here doesn’t look particularly good — wet weather and inexperience hampered many growers — but interest in the crop is strong.
“It’s the most too-good-to-be-true thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Wisconsin retailer — and CBD believer — Nathan Griepentrog said.
Pretty close. Inside the jar was 200 grams of cannabidiol, or CBD, extracted from the flowers of hemp plants with equipment built by his partners, Griffin Lynch and Andy Gould, two recently graduated chemical engineering majors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Gold rush atmosphere
Local musician Colin Plant recently opened the Canni Hemp Co. store in Walker’s Point, and another CBD store, Erth Dispensary, says it will open in Bay View next month.
Griepentrog said his store took in $100,000 in its first two months. Joel Peterson said his Black River Falls outlet, PriceLand Hemp, has sold more than 10,000 bottles of CBD oil since opening in late April.
The hardy plant lends itself to a wide variety of uses in food, fibers and even construction material. The biggest buzz, though, is about CBD.
‘It isn’t like picking corn’
“But what’s kind of hidden in that number is the amount of work it takes to get it properly planted, properly harvested and properly dried,” Lynch said.
“It isn’t like picking corn, I’ll tell you that,” Konopacki said.
When the new facility opened, founder and chief executive officer Stephen Mueller told The Denver Post he anticipated adding another 100 workers to the company.
“We did that,” Hilley said Friday. “To go from 30 people to 250 people, you learn a lot about who’s going to be a really good fit for the company.”
Despite the layoff, Hilley says Mile High Labs is “absolutely” still expanding. In 2020, it plans to add an original line of CBD products, including tinctures and topicals. Chicago-based research company Brighfield Group estimates the U.S. CBD market could reach $24.4 billion by 2025.
Mile High Labs, one of Colorado’s leading CBD producers, laid off employees this week, just months after undergoing a major expansion.
According to chief financial officer Jon Hilley, the company cut 20 positions — less than 10% of its workforce — on Thursday. They primarily were those in entry-level sales jobs. Mile High Labs employed more than 250 people before the layoff, Hilley said.
Broomfield-based company’s CFO says that fewer than 10% of staff were let go
The news comes about three months after the company moved from Boulder into an $18.8 million, 400,000-square-foot facility in Broomfield, where it extracts and processes hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD. Hemp has negligible amounts of THC, the ingredient that gives the plant’s cousin marijuana its high.
“The last year has proven we are the market leader in this category and we’re excited about continued growth of the category,” Hilley said.