Privately Funded Columbia Basin Bioscience Invests $134 Million To Build Vertically Integrated CBD Wholesale Business
Quality, Consistency and Regulatory Preparation Lie at Heart of Investments
HERMISTON, Ore. – Mar. 2, 2020 – The founders of Columbia Basin Bioscience invested more than $134 million to build the industry’s largest vertically integrated cannabidiol production facility designed to meet or exceed the expected regulatory scrutiny from state and federal authorities with the scale necessary to navigate a rapidly commoditizing market.
Wholly owned by a small group of founding partners, the privately funded operation brings the complete production chain together at a single location. With exclusive access to its 2000+-acre farm in Hermiston, Ore., Columbia Basin Bioscience (CBB) grows its organic industrial hemp, extracts and distills CBD oil, and produces full spectrum distillate and pure CBD isolate.
“We entered this market with a clear-eyed vision. We expected the current lack of clarity from the FDA, which will eventually be followed by regulation, and the rapid commoditization of CBD,” said Sean Groer, one of CBB’s founding partners. “But we also know that CBD is here to stay. We built a company that our customers can count on for the long term.”
A processing plant previously FDA-approved for frozen vegetables is the heart of the operation. With 168,000 square feet, the old Hermiston Foods plant was large enough to accommodate CBB’s cold-extraction method of producing CBD oil, isolate, and distillate. The plant has a staff of up to 60 people, many of whom were former Hermiston Foods employees, to process a yearly harvest of more than 10 million pounds of industrial hemp.
“The facility is perfectly suited to our needs, but the quality of our leadership is critical to our success,” Groer said. “Alan Cleaver, our CEO, is a third-generation farmer who has grown onions and other crops in the Columbia Basin most of his life. He knows this land and he understands that scale is the way to overcome the demands of a commodity market.”
“The cost of producing high quality CBD, consistently and in a way that will pass regulatory muster, whenever that comes, required a large operation,” Cleaver said.
“The brilliance of this facility is that it came with an enormous 30,000 square foot freezer we can use for storage, and the ethanol and steam lines we need for our processes. We are well positioned to supply our B2C partners who are very focused on quality and consistency.”
Some specific features of CBB’s processing operation include:
The Crop – CBB uses only genetically tested seeds to assure purity and high CBD content to produce its organic industrial hemp. Hand weeding by a team of 250 workers eliminates the needs for pesticides and herbicides. As the harvest comes in, regular testing and tight controls on harvesting and processing assure that no trace of harmful substances has entered the process.
Purpose-built Dryers – CBB uses the world’s largest, custom-built hemp dryers that can handle the farm’s entire production in less than 60 days. Designed in-house by Cleaver, a proprietary, computerized loading system continuously feeds biomass into the dryers, making for a very efficient operation.
Pelletization – After drying, the biomass moves to the pellet mill, where it is compressed for storage in preparation for extraction. Few CBD producers are able to pelletize their biomass, but it’s a requirement for CBB. Storing 10 million pounds of biomass enables flexibility to focus on the needs of the market at whatever scale is necessary, shifting toward crude oil, distillate or isolate as the market demands.
Storage – CBB has a 30,000 square foot freezer where all 10 million pounds of biomass can be stored prior to extraction. Keeping biomass at sub-zero temperatures, all in one place, ensures consistency in the extraction process and end product.
Extraction – CBB uses ethanol-based cold extraction to produce its CBD oil and isolate. Most CBD producers use a batch system with production “lines.” CBB’s unique and proprietary “hive” design features robotic systems to precisely and automatically keep the production line moving, ensuring clean and consistent extraction with minimal downtime and maximum scalability. On any given day, CBB’s facility can convert over 50,000 pounds of biomass into full spectrum distillate or isolate powder.
Crystallization – Crystallization is the process of turning distilled oil into isolate powder. CBB has a crystallization machine with massive scale, converting thousands of liters of distillate each day. There is no isolate order too large for CBB to fill quickly.
About Columbia Basin Bioscience
Based in Hermiston, Ore., Columbia Basin Bioscience is a wholesale supplier redefining the standards of quality, transparency and certainty in the CBD industry, all at a scale that is unprecedented in the CBD industry. Led by noted Oregon farmer and agronomist Alan Cleaver, Columbia Basin Bioscience’s facilities consist of over 2,000 acres of organic industrial hemp production, proprietary purpose-built dryers, a 168,000 square foot extraction facility, and an ISO-certified lab environment. For more information, www.cbbioscience.com.