As Vantage Hemp Co. works to install the last pieces of equipment at its CBD-hemp extraction facilities in Greeley, Colo., a camera crew filmed scenes Sept. 5 for educational programming, which will air on public television.
“We’re excited to work with organizations like Vantage Hemp,” said Ben Wilson, chief creative officer for Behind the Scenes, a television series which got its start in 2016. “They offer us an opportunity to tell educational stories about an industry that is still emerging.” Each episode of Behind the Scenes ranges from about three and a half to five and a half minutes long, Wilson said, and features a single organization or company. The topics range widely, including things such as smart bulb technology, reconstructive surgery and golf course irrigation.
Award winning actor Laurence Fishburne, known for roles like Morpheus in the Matrix, provides opening and closing comments filmed from a studio in California. Behind the Scenes episodes are sent to public television and public access TV affiliates in all 50 states, he said. Some of the episodes can also be viewed at YouTube.com.
The footage filmed at Vantage Hemp is now in the editing process at the company’s base in Florida. Once that is completed, the episode will be ready for distribution to public television channels by the end of October, he said.
GETTING THE HANG OF HEMP
Vantage Hemp has been working to bring its two facilities online, which extract cannabidiol, known as CBD. The extraction process focuses on hemp flowers and the company is currently testing the best methods for harvest. “We’ve partnered with a number of growers in Colorado,” said Deepank Utkhede, chief operating officer of Vantage Hemp.
Operations at one building, where the company utilizes CO2 extraction, began earlier this summer. Now, the company is in the process of installing the last pieces of equipment at the second building, he said, which will utilize hydrocarbon extraction. Once both facilities are up and running the company will have a total capacity of 5.5 tons of biomass. The two extraction methods result in two different types of products, he said. CO2 extraction results in a complete or whole plant extract, which includes cannabinoids, plant waxes and other components. “There are a lot of people who feel that’s the most effective,” he said.
Hydrocarbon extraction, on the other hand, is a more efficient process resulting in a purified form of CBD. With further processing, the company produces distillate and isolate CBD oil. Distillation removes impurities while leaving traces of beneficial compounds while isolate CBD oil has been processed to remove all taste and smell, resulting in the purest form.
Vantage Hemp’s business model is to produce CBD extracts to market to other companies, which purchase it to produce a variety of products. The list of possibilities is long, including sports drinks, lotions, creams or cosmetics, to name a few. “At present, the sky is the limit, in terms of the benefits of CBD, but also the products,” he said.
Although CBD oil isn’t a cure all and Utkhede recommends people talk to their doctors, the benefits of CBD oil have been clear for members of his family. His mother has pain and inflammation in her knees due to arthritis and uses a CBD roll-on product, which she says helps her. His cousin has sciatica and also uses a CBD oil product. “Nothing else has been able to help but [she says] that one helps,” he said, adding that there are multiple reasons people use CBD oil.
So far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has taken a hands-off approach to CBD oil, as long as companies do not make health claims on what their products treat. As a result, a craft industry has sprung up with a wide variety of products on the market. “Almost anyone can make it and put it on the shelf,” he said.
However, on July 22, the FDA submitted a document called “Cannabidiol Enforcement Policy; Draft Guidance for Industry” to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Office of Management and Budget of the Executive Office of the President, for regulatory review. It isn’t known yet what that document contains.
“Everyone is waiting with baited breath,” Utkhede said.
The hope is that CBD oil will be classified as a nutritional supplement or a food additive. If it is classified as a drug it will be required to go through expensive and time-consuming clinical trials. As a result, the vast majority of the CBD oil products on the market now would no longer be allowed to be sold, he said.
In the meantime, Vantage Hemp has positioned itself to sell its CBD oil into both the nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical markets. The company will manufacture products according to pharmaceutical guidelines or good manufacturing practices, known as GMP, he said. Products sold into pharmaceutical markets must be at the highest quality achievable. ❖
— Jessen is a freelance writer living in Minnesota with her nurse husband and daughter. They recently settled down after more than three years living a travel lifestyle, thanks to her husband’s travel nurse job. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.