Publicly traded (OTC PINK: HEMP)
Industry: Cannabis & Hemp
Products: Hemp-based products, including pre-rolled cigarettes and bioplastics
Founder and CEO Bruce Perlowin's path to leading hemp manufacturer started in the black market.
"We are the first publicly traded company in the hemp industry," says Perlowin. "I Googled hemp public companies and I was shocked at how many there are now."
The cannabis warrior, now in his sixties, has a long history in the industry. "In my twenties, I was a marijuana smuggler," Perlowin says.
He moved to go legit in the new millennium. "I started the first publicly traded company of what they now call the pot stocks." That company, Medical Marijuana Inc., launched in 2003 and sold in 2009.
As CEO of Hemp Inc., Perlowin is continuing to work to advocate for cannabis and its many uses, including as a carbon sink, a replacement for plastics and fuels, and more. "The main product is the high CBD buds which will be turned into pre-rolls. We grew somewhere around 100,000 pounds [in 2019]," he says.
Perlowin adds that amount was the anticipated dry weight of this year's harvest. It could actually be as high as 150,000 pounds, based on a wet harvest weight of 1 million pounds.
Once cured, the company will separate the flowers and buds from the rest of the stalk and make them into pre-rolled "King of Hemp" cigarettes. "We plan to be the dominant player in pre-roll industry," Perlowin states.
That's despite intense competition from multinational tobacco companies. "I know I'm going up against companies like Marlboro. They're already in it," Perlowin contends. "They're in it full speed -- take a look at Wild Hemp. That's Marlboro."
Perlowin anticipates that the crop could produce more than 200 million hemp cigarettes. Currently they will be made by a machine that can produce 20,000 pre-rolls a day. However, future machines the company plans to buy, he says, will produce up to 1 million pre-rolled cigarettes in a day.
The hemp cigarettes meet federal requirements that the THC and THCA, another cannabinoid in hemp, in the cigarettes will be below 0.3 percent, according to Perlowin. That's thanks to the organic cultivar the company grows, he says. As such, the cigarettes can be sold in all states except North Carolina because of a law that prohibits the sale of smokable hemp in the state.
Perlowin says the company is focussing on the pre-rolls because of the immediate benefits of inhaling CBD as compared to ingesting or absorbing through other methods. He also says studies have shown that there aren't negative effects from smoking hemp cigarettes. "If there was anything bad in the pre-rolls of hemp, we wouldn't be doing it. . . . We would be making CBD oil."
"Our second biggest product is out of North Carolina, which is called loss circulation material," Perlowin explains. That loss circulation material (LCM) material, which Hemp Inc. calls DrillWall, is used in oil or gas drilling to prevent fluid loss in the drill hole.
"We grind up the whole plant into a powder that's fine and we mix it kenaf, actually we started with kenaf because hemp was not legal in North Carolina when we started that plant. Then we added hemp, so we have have a hemp-kenaf blend," Perlowin says.
The company's third major project is another ground product that's shipped to South Carolina where its used to make hemp-based bioplastics. "They make the pellets and then they sell those to the guys that mold it. They can make anything from cell phone covers to plastic cups to straws to -- you name it," Perlowin says. "That thrills me death. It's not our biggest profit center. Oregon's our biggest profit center with all that hemp we grow up there, but it's profitable and it's good."
The company is continually working to find uses for all parts of the hemp plant, some products that would otherwise be wasted can be mixed with hemp creams, according to Perlowin. Others can be used to create electricity and biochar, a healthy soil amendment, he says.
Beyond Hemp Inc., Perlowin also wants to increase the amount of cannabis grown across the world as a means to help reduce carbon dioxide in the air. "I believe the only way we're going to save this planet is by growing 50 million acres of hemp," he says. To that end, he offers certain training and strategies for free through Hemp University.
Challenges: Perlowin says that cultivation is strewn with hurdles. "When you do a grow . . . there's danger at points all along the road. When you plant, there's the danger of the bugs and the mold and the aphids and the spider mites and the rest of it."
Opportunities: "The big opportunities is in the pre-rolls," Perlowin says. "I'm going to feature on the front of all my pre-rolls all the smugglers, like myself of yesteryear. . . . Those are my peers. I want to give them a royalty."
Needs: "We need to expand to be able to do more pre-rolls concurrently," Perlowin says, "I need more than one machine. The market demand is there." He adds that the industry needs more cannabis-specific equipment. "We can use traditional traditional tobacco machines that make traditional cigarettes, but the hemp is so sticky, it gums it up and they're trying to reinvent that," he notes.
Another need: talent. Perlowin says he anticipates Hemp Inc. hiring up to 500 new employees in 2020.