With Aurora Cannabis preparing to break ground on its 1.2 million square foot Aurora Sun facility, it seems like a good time to explore opportunities further along the value chain as it relates to cannabis and hemp. One area attracting plenty of attention is the extraction of cannabidiol (CBD), which boasts a growing list of health benefits.
The global CBD market is expected to reach $2.1 billion by 2020, representing a 700% increase over 2015. Of that, $450 million is from hemp-derived CBDs, which itself is up from $90 million in 2015.
CBD is present in the leaves and flowers of both industrial hemp, and cannabis. The primary difference between the two plants is that industrial hemp is required to be below 0.3% THC, which is the psychoactive agent in cannabis.
Canadian hemp farmers are currently prohibited from selling leaves and flowers of hemp plants, but a November 2017 announcement by Health Canada is a signal that that rule may change. For Southern Alberta’s hemp farmers, this would open up an entirely new market by allowing them to essentially sell the whole plant. Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance President Russ Crawford is on record saying that the potential for CBD could outweigh the value of food and fibre combined.
Even without that regulatory change, CBD can be extracted from cannabis plants using chemical processes.
Medicine Hat is uniquely positioned to help companies in this fast-growing space. Alberta is home to 18,000 of Canada’s 54,000 registered hemp acres, and is about to be home to the world’s largest cannabis greenhouse.
In addition to a steady supply of cannabis and hemp, Medicine Hat’s petrochemicals cluster is one of Alberta’s largest, providing plenty of experience in chemical processes similar to those used in CBD extraction.
These two experience sets are rarely found together and position Medicine Hat as a desirable location for CBD extraction companies. Combine competitive utility rates and Medicine Hat certainly shines.
This article was originally published in the Medicine Hat News Business Beat on May 9, 2018.