Engineer and entrepreneur permitted to conduct hemp research
by Marshall Childs
Posted on Thursday Apr 20, 2017 at 10:00PM in Finance
ELLISBURG — A California entrepreneur is one step closer to building an industrial hemp processing hub in Jefferson County, now that the state allowed him to conduct research.
Marc P. Privitera, who owns PreProcess Inc., a business development company, Tuesday was issued a permit to research industrial hemp processing, manufacturing and marketing through the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program alongside five other companies.
According to a news release from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office, the pilot program, established in 2016, was expanded to include both higher education institutions and private entities.
The chemical engineer, who specializes in hemp growth, said he will begin planting hemp seeds in June in a one-acre plot about a mile from his business in the old schoolhouse, 12013 Route 193, and three one-acre plots in Copenhagen, Binghamton and Cobleskill. By conducting research and exploring the feasibility of making several different hemp products, Mr. Privitera said he hopes to build a hemp processing hub in 2018 near Interstate 81.
“(I want) to give local economies another crop that can be turned into products and be sold to the market,” Mr. Privitera said. “It’s all about opportunity. You just generate good stuff when you have opportunity.”
Each one-acre plot is expected to yield 700 pounds of hemp grain and 5,800 pounds of hemp stalk, which Mr. Privitera plans to process into different products.
Through his research, Mr. Privitera said, he will explore using hemp grain to make paper, textiles, “hempcrete” and carbon out of the stalks and seeds for oatmeal and yogurt, baking powder and oil from the grain. He also plans to extract cannabidiol oil, or CBD oil, which can be used in to help treat cancer or seizures.
“We’re going to make products out of the whole plant,” he said. “I want the north country to be able to produce multiple products so that it has multiple revenue streams.”
Once he harvests his hemp, Mr. Privitera will use mobile processing units, which he said he plans to build this year, for primary processing. The units will be equipped with seed cleaners for the grain and decorticators, hammer mills and combs for the stalks.
Mr. Privitera said he then plans to build a small barn at the Ellisburg site for final processing and to sell products, until he can build the processing hub and sell those products in larger volumes.
In addition to conducting his own research and processing, Mr. Privitera said he hopes to collaborate with universities like SUNY Cobleskill, with which he is discussing potential programs, Jefferson Community College and other schools to create hemp research programs for their students.
JCC President Carol C. McCoy previously said the college would not partner with Mr. Privitera because hemp research did not align with the college’s goals and was better suited for graduate schools programs.
Unlike marijuana, industrial hemp, which is also a form of cannabis, contains less than 0.3 percent THC, not enough to create the same psychosocial effect.
“Industrial hemp is not marijuana,” Mr. Privitera said. “THC is psychoactive. CBD is beneficial.”
Jay M. Matteson, agricultural coordinator for the Jefferson County Economic Development, said hemp production has a viable market in the county because entrepreneurs can use it to create several value-added products and it grows throughout the state.
The research, Mr. Matteson said, will help determine if hemp can grow well enough in the area for industrial production.
“I think it really has a future for its medical purposes and more industrial-type purposes,” he said. “Fourteen years ago, there weren’t any vineyards in Jefferson County and now look at what we have.”
In addition to issuing hemp research permits to businesses Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo announced several initiatives to grow the state’s hemp industry at the state Industrial Hemp Summit in Ithaca.
According to the release, the state will seek a U.S. Enforcement Agency permit to import hemp seeds, advocate for easing federal requirements for hemp seeds and policies to boost the industry, establish a seed distribution site for international ports, expand research at Cornell University, increase THC testing and communicate with stakeholders to determine how it can improve the pilot program.
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