EVART — A different kind of cannabis company may be coming to the Evart Industrial Park.
United We Stand, LLC, has submitted a proposal to purchase two lots in the industrial park for the purpose of establishing a research and development facility to develop products made from hemp.
Hemp, or industrial hemp, is the same species of plant as cannabis but contains less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the element that produces the “high.”
It can be refined into a variety of commercial items, including paper, rope, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.
The 2018 Farm Bill made it legal to grow hemp throughout the United States and made hemp-derived CBD products federally legal.
Marijuana, or cannabis containing more than 0.3% THC, isn’t federally legal, but was legalized in Michigan for medical use in 2008 and for recreational use in 2018.
“This is a community development project,” partner Robb LaPeen said. “It will be a little different than what everybody is used to because we will be focused on research and development, and education and training.”
“THC cannabis is not our primary focus, although it is something that we use in our treatments,” he added. “It is part of the industry we can’t ignore because right now; it is primarily the only way to make any income off from cannabis. So, it is a means to the future training facility and everything else.”
LaPeen said the first stage will be to get the research and development lab established, and then develop the training and education center. Future expansion will include an indoor grow and processing facility and possible a retail store.
“It is going to be one project at a time, and it will take about five years to develop it all,” he said. “We have three projects that will go hand in hand — the research and development center, the training and education center, and the wellness center.”
The research and development will focus on biofuels, plastics and alternate energy research, LaPeen said.
“Everything that we do is going to center around the community,” he said. “We are going to be designing our buildings to use alternative energy, so we are not drawing on the community’s energy supply. We hope to produce enough to sell it back to the city for less than what they pay now.”
The training center will focus on teaching how to grow product, marketing and development of products, and research and development of new products, LaPeen said.
“Many people don’t know the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana, so that will be part of our training,” he said. “We can train people on plants for THC cannabis or hemp products, and they will be able to go over to another grow facility and get a job or work on a hemp farm. We will be focusing on veterans but anybody that wants to get into the industry can come to our center.”