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THE GAZETTE:

Colorado Springs supplier looks to expand production of popular hemp oil

By: Rich Laden – Feb 16, 2017
A Colorado Springs company that bills itself as one of the nation’s largest hemp oil suppliers wants to more than quadruple the size of its local operation to accommodate a rapidly growing market for its products.Whole Hemp Company, which does business as Folium Biosciences, cultivates and develops hemp near La Junta in southeast Colorado.The harvested and dried product is transported to a 10,000-square-foot oil extraction plant at Folium’s headquarters at 828 Wooten Road, between Platte Avenue and Galley Road, on the Springs’ east side, where it produces hemp oil that’s sold to wholesale customers globally. Its products are used for health and wellness, personal care and pet health, among other applications, the company says.Now nearly 3 years old, Folium says it has outgrown its current space and wants to lease an additional 45,000 square feet in a nearby building at 615 Wooten, according to a proposal it’s submitted to the city’s Land Use Review Division. Most of the additional space would be used for hemp oil extraction, while it also would accommodate storage and offices.Besides adding more space, Folium would increase its workforce to 50 people from 20, said Raj Gupta, Folium’s chief scientific officer. About half of the new jobs would be skilled-labor positions – chemists, engineers and managers whose salaries would average more than $100,000 a year. The hemp oil process, in effect, is a high-tech manufacturing operation that requires employees with advanced skills, Gupta said.Folium is a privately held company, and Gupta declined to disclose sales figures. But he said the company is doing well, and expects to be a “significant player” in an industry where sales of hemp products could eventually be in the “tens of billions of dollars.” One hemp industry trade group, the California-based Hemp Industries Association, estimated the U.S. retail market for all hemp products at $573 million in 2015.“Our sales are doing well, revenue is increasing rapidly,” Gupta said. “There’s so much pent-up demand for our products.”The growth and cultivation of hemp became legal in Colorado when state voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012. While the amendment is widely known for permitting recreational marijuana sales in the state, it also legalized hemp production.
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