Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Fargo-based company eyes ND hemp production

By Dave Olson Forum News Service

FARGO -- A newly formed company based here aims to bring a new cash crop to North Dakota -- industrial hemp.
Quality Agricultural Products announced Monday a goal of building an indoor facility to grow industrial hemp that could also produce medical cannabis if it becomes legal in North Dakota.
The complex would employ 20 to 25 people, the company said.
The question of where the plant will be built is being studied and additional investors are being sought, said Will Wiebolt, QAP president.
David Holand is vice president of the company.
"We are confident that the talent and resources we will need to build the facility are here," said Wiebolt, who declined to identify possible locations other than to say the site will be convenient for transporting materials around the state and appropriate from a "community sentiment" standpoint.
Wiebolt said North Dakota's regulatory climate and its tradition of agricultural production make it suitable for growing hemp. He said construction of the facility could start as early as nine months from now, but definitely within the next 16 months.
He said production could start in 2017.
Under current law, industrial hemp may be grown in North Dakota only by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture through its Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, or by institutions of higher education for academic research.
The deadline for applying to grow hemp via the pilot program in 2016 has passed and about 16 applications were submitted, said Rachel Seifert-Spilde, hemp program coordinator.
A number of applications were incomplete or submitted late and those will likely be rejected, said Seifert-Spilde, who added the rest will be reviewed this week. A number of applications came from farm operations, she said.
QAP did not submit an application to grow industrial hemp in 2016.
Seifert-Spilde said it isn't clear what will happen with the state's industrial hemp pilot project when it comes to growing seasons beyond 2016.
She said the Industrial Hemp Farming Act pending in Congress could dramatically change the legal landscape for growing hemp.
Both hemp and marijuana are forms of cannabis and both contain THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Marijuana usually contains 10 percent or more of THC and hemp typically has less than 1 percent, Wiebolt said.
There are many commercial uses of industrial hemp, but QAP plans to focus on the production of hemp oils, whose applications range from the field of medicine to things like paints, inks, fuel, edibles and plastics.
"We just want to bring new ideas and new products to the market in North Dakota," Wiebolt said.
The company can be reached at

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