JEFFERSONVILLE — The largest hemp processing facility in the U.S. is expected to open this fall in the River Ridge Commerce Center, with the plant reaching full capacity over the following year.

On Thursday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-Indiana, toured the 100,000-square-foot facility that will be home to HempRise, a company that will produce and distribute about a sixth of the nation’s CBD broad spectrum, CBD isolate and water soluble CBD. It will employ 50 people, with wages starting between $18 and $20 per hour.

The $80-million project is the largest U.S. venture to date from China-based firm Layn. The products will come from farms within 50 miles in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

“It’s just another exciting investment right here in Southern Indiana,” Hollingsworth said. “We couldn’t be prouder of this investment, the continued growth at River Ridge.”

He said the day of the tour that he had learned a lot “and it’s really exciting to see the integration of our great Hoosier farmers with great Hoosier manufacturing mindset we’ve got here, [to] hopefully deliver even better products all the way across the country.

“It’s another exciting jewel in our crown...we’ve got so many of the best and brightest here in Southern Indiana and we’re excited to see more people taking advantage of the great workforce we’ve got here and the opportunities we have to grow businesses here in Indiana.”

Zheng Yang, general manager of HempRise, said the parent company’s decision to invest in the area was about access to good product.

“The reason we try to invest into Indiana is because we believe in natural,” he said. “We are trying to get very good ingredients.”

And the company, as well as hemp farmers, could have greater opportunities if legislation introduced in the U.S. House early this year gets more traction next session. Currently, CBD, a non-psychoactive chemical in Cannabis used to treat issues including anxiety, depression and sleep disorder, is not able to be sold as a dietary supplement under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act of 2021, introduced in February by Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., aims to change that by allowing hemp and other ingredients derived from hemp including cannabidiol (CBD) to be recognized as a dietary supplement under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, provided that the supplement meets other requirements.

The legislation was referred to the House subcommittee on Health but did not move further.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” Hollingsworth said. “I think educating people first and foremost...helping people understand the difference between THC, CBD and other parts of the plant and also educating our legislators in D.C. so that we can come to a public policy architecture that empowers investments like this, empowers cures for Americans, treatments for Americans and also enables this industry to flourish.”

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