Hawaii resident and former Major League Baseball player Shane Victorino is getting into the hemp business.
Victorino’s company Legacy Ventures Hawaii is joining with California agricultural technology firm Arcadia Biosciences to grow, extract and sell hemp products in the islands under the name Archipelago Ventures. The company plans to begin sales in late 2019.
Victorino said he believes hemp has the potential to “transform Hawaii’s economy,” including its farmers and local communities, by creating an “entirely new agricultural segment.”
“We are able to apply our same entrepreneurial spirit and skills to help our fellow Hawaiians establish their own lasting legacies through successful hemp cultivation,” the former professional baseball outfielder said in a statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
The son of Maui Mayor Michael Victorino is also partnered with Vapen CBD, which focuses on extraction and sales of cannabis oils and distillate products. Vapen will handle the construction and operation of Archipelago’s hemp extraction facilities.
The group, which is investing $5 million, said it has a “long-term competitive advantage that many mainland cultivators and producers will not attain,” due to Hawaii’s climate and geography that allows for growing and harvesting hemp year-round.
“This is really fascinating and represents a great opportunity, especially for Hawaii because theoretically you can get three harvests a year because of the climate,” said Matt Plavan, CFO of Arcadia Biosciences, which won a license to begin growing hemp under a state Department of Agriculture pilot program. “The demand is projected to grow at a staggering rate.”
The 2018 U.S. Agriculture Improvement Act — also known as the Farm Bill — legalized the regulated production of hemp, the strain of cannabis containing less than 0.3% of the psychoactive component, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Marijuana, by contrast, can have THC levels as high as 30%.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is still evaluating how best to regulate CBD, which has not yet been deemed safe for human consumption, though there has been an influx of CBD products in the health and wellness market.
“Many people are convinced it’s addressing a number of health concerns or ailments. They feel better when taking CBD whether for back aches or anxiety,” said Plavan.
The Department of Health has stated that only Hawaii’s eight licensed medical marijuana dispensaries are authorized to sell CBD products, which may be problematic for the company.
“Until the FDA issues guidelines, it is their position sales of CBD, hemp and hemp-derivative products is illegal unless it is sold through medical dispensaries,” Plavan said. “We all have to be very careful and make sure if we’re going to try to sell CBD in the Hawaii market it’s compliant with regulations.”
The company could however, begin selling seed and hemp for clothing or building materials. It also can sell outside the islands, he said.
The hemp CBD market has grown dramatically in recent years, totaling $190 million in 2018, according to estimates by the Hemp Business Journal. Sales are expected to skyrocket to $22 billion by 2022 based on projections by the Brightfield Group, a cannabis and CBD market research firm.