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Bill opens up Hawai‘i to hemp industry

‘OMA‘O — The team at Kaua‘i Hemp Company Farms and Nalu Botanicals Lab stand in front of the “Ka la hiki ola” mural overlooking its farm in ‘Oma‘o, thinking that it truly is a “dawning of a new day.”

The signing of House Bill 1819 by Gov. David Ige legalizes the growth, processing and sale of industrial hemp in the state, and for Nalu Botanicals Lab, the first and only toll processing facility in the state, this bill opens up new opportunities and business by the ten-fold.

The first U.S. Department of Agriculture certified organic hemp farm in the state, founder Daryl Kaneshiro’s four acres of industrial hemp goes from seed to refined cannabidiol oil all on the property.

If this bill wasn’t signed, this massive operation would have had to close.

Kaneshiro expressed his gratitude to Ige, especially during this global pandemic.

Celebrating the signing into law of a hemp-production statute, state House Bill 1819, are, from left, Nalu Botanicals CEO River Young, state Senate President Ron Kouchi, Kurt Bosshard, Lindsey Bosshard, state Rep. Jimmy Tokioka, Director of Research and Development Andre Eriksson, Arryl Kaneshiro and Daryl Kaneshiro.

“Even with COVID, we’ve worked every day since,” Kaneshiro said. “This is going to be a new industry for Hawai‘i.”

Without tourism, chef David Jay Ledee isn’t able to serve up sushi at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort &Spa in Po‘ipu. Now, he’s working on Pure Kaua‘i CBD. Ledee said this bill helps support local businesses.

The bill allows hemp farmers to apply directly to the USDA to get licenses instead of using state funds to set up a hemp agency. The federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or “Farm Bill,” legalized hemp by removing it from the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Last year, Ige vetoed another hemp bill, Senate Bill 1353, that would have established an industrial hemp-licensing program, expressing concern that it was unenforceable. State Senate members worked with Ige’s administration to not end up with the same fate this year.

State Senate President Ron Kouchi joined the team Saturday afternoon to celebrate.

“Now that the bill is passed, the hemp industry in Hawai‘i can ramp up and go full speed,” Kouchi said. “Since the pandemic, we’ve been talking about how to diversify off of our tourism-based economy. How do we find non-tourism business-related industries? Then, there’s been a cry for diversifying our agriculture field as well. This checks all the boxes.”

While there will be more opportunities for growth for the Kaneshiros and Kaua‘i, Kouchi said the wealth will be across the state.

“On a long-term future there will be even more jobs in the hemp industry,” Kouchi said, pointing to hemp clothes, CBD products and a breadth of other opportunities.

In October, Nalu Botanicals CEO River Young said, 8,000 pounds of hemp will be processed. Young said this business came about 24 hours since the bill’s singing, and hemp will be derived from other farms in the state. The group’s CBD product offerings include organic full-spectrum distillate, organic broad-spectrum distillate, isolate and water-soluble CBD.

The organic farm is certified through Oregon Tilth and is entirely sustainable, Young explained during a walk-thru, pointing to solar panels lining the roof of the warehouse. The lab is able to process 36 acres of hemp biomass and is able to recapture 97% of consumables for reuses, according to its website.

“Kaua‘i’s tropical climate is perfect for cultivation, and it has always been our goal to provide top-tier products in an already-saturated CBD market.” The marketing aspect, Young said, also highlights the islands.

“We’re a higher-end, boutique Hawaiian product,” Young said.

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Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.

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