Hemp firm plans research center in Lebanon

A Carmel-based hemp firm research and development company is moving to Lebanon. Agrozen Life Sciences has purchased 4 acres of land on Ransdell Road to expand its new testing division and a research and development cultivation center.

Hemp firm plans research center in Lebanon

Co-founder Brian Schroeder said the company is investing $6.6 million in the project over the next five years in the former Boyd & Sons facility.

“What the Lebanon move does for us is consolidate two locations that we had in Carmel into one location … and expand our business,” Schroeder said. “The game plan is we want to be able to add additional buildings on this property to be able to expand our R&D cultivation center.”

Plans are to build three buildings behind the current structure. Called growing rooms, they are high tech facilities holding 700 to 800 hemp plants each. Schroeder, who went into business with his son, Austin, said the first grow room will be built by the end of March.

Long term, the company expects to explore the industrial applications of hemp. The whole sector is only a few years old as it only recently became federally legal to grow hemp and sell CBD products in Indiana.

The difference between hemp and marijuana is Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the mind-altering ingredient. Hemp and hemp firm products, in order to be legal at the state and federal level, must contain less than 0.3% of THC.

Agrozen – a combination of agriculture and Zen – recently added a test lab division certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

It is the only hemp firm testing laboratory in Indiana to meet those certifications and be listed on the USDA website, one of only 50 labs across the nation.

There are 280 Hoosier farmers growing 8,900 acres of hemp in Indiana. Regulated by the Office of Indiana State Chemist at Purdue University, hemp crops are tested and if the sample yields more than 0.3% THC, the crop must be destroyed. Actually, any time hemp is processed into a different form, it must be tested again, Schroeder said.

“Our objective is to really help the farmers, the formulators, even retailers make sure that what they are growing, formulating or selling product within the hemp industry, that they’re compliant with federal rules and regulations,” he said. “The way we test in our laboratory is essentially identical (to the OISC).”

In 2019, a third of farmers failed to meet the legal THC levels and had to destroy their crops, Schroeder said.

“There were a lot of hot crops, which means the crop was testing above the 0.3%,” he said. “A lot of time and effort goes into growing this crop and the last thing you want to do is take it and turn it under cause you can’t harvest it because it’s above the legal limit.”

The company is not only servicing Hoosiers but has customers all over the U.S., Schroeder said. With the addition of the federally-certified laboratory, the company is vertically integrated.

“You grow the plant,” Schroeder explained. “You have the laboratory. You have extraction and extraction allows you to do formulation and processing.”

There will be some retail of products, but more importantly, Schroeder wants to educate consumers to explain the difference between pot and hemp.

“Everyone always thinks you see those leaves and think it’s a marijuana plant, but it’s not,” he said. “It’s a cannabis plant and there are differences from one plant to the other plant.

“We think that is very beneficial,” he added. “We’re right off the freeway, so I think we’ll get quite a bit of traffic in here and I know we’ll get some attention.”

Originally published at Goshen news