Our guest on the first Carolina Cannabis News podcast of 2019 is Justin Hamilton, CEO of Hempleton Investment Group. The company is in headquartered in Wilmington, N.C., and includes East Coast Genetics, New River Distilling, Hope Hemp ExtractsThe Hemp Farmacy and more.

Hamilton explains how the Great Recession changed his career trajectory from successful real estate broker to cannabis investor to founder of one of North Carolina’s biggest hemp companies. In fact, he says to watch for three big announcements from his company in the first quarter of 2019.

In this podcast interview, Hamilton likens the growth of the hemp industry to the dawning of the Industrial Revolution “especially when you factor in grain and fiber and not just CBD (cannabidiol),” he says.

When he began investing in Colorado’s medical cannabis industry, “CBD was not well known,” he says.

That, as you know, changed thanks to the 2014 farm bill. Hamilton says his team of advisors and attorneys took almost two years to fully understand the farm bill that made industrial hemp farming possible and to develop the company’s business models.

He predicts that it won’t take quite as long for the financial sector to digest the 2018 farm bill, but warns that hemp entrepreneurs can expect to wait 12 to 18 months before crop insurance and banking changes are fully realized — and he calls that an opportunity for small businesses.

“Hempleton was created as an umbrella for start ups,” he says. “We wanted to provide a network of resources in every aspect of the industry. I wanted to create an umbrella that was large enough to be able to invest in all aspects of the market and take the education from each part of that market and apply it to other parts of the market. And, we wanted to build an umbrella that would basically act as a trampoline for startups.”

We discuss what it means to foster entrepreneurs and how his company stepped up to help farmers like Brad Adams following Hurricane Florence.

[Read: Florence destroyed Brad Adams’ hemp farm — find out how you can help.]

Crop insurance was not available for 2018 hemp crops. “That would have been a gamechanger for him,” says Hamilton of Adams’ loss, “he would have had his seed money back for new plants … to do it again a second year.”

Hamilton believes the loss Adams experienced, and the news stories that followed, helped advance the 2018 farm bill.

Even with the hurricane, Hamilton says that, as of Jan. 1, 2019, Hempleton has helped farmers close $500,000 in hemp biomass sales, and he says another $2 million in such sales are expected to close in the first quarter of the year. 

To listen, press the green play button in the podcast player at the top of the page. Or, subscribe via the podcast app of your choice, like iTunes/ Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.

[Image: Justin Hamilton, CEO of Hempleton Investment Group. Photo courtesy of Hempleton.]

This podcast sponsored by Mitty’s CBD Cafe.

To that end, Hamilton says farmers expecting immediate payouts have had to learn that the market isn’t quite there yet, but that he hopes to have transactions for the 2018 harvest complete in time for farmers to replant for this year’s crop. He calls this “one of the biggest hurdles we crossed” this season.

In this episode we also discuss what Hamilton would like to see the N.C. General Assembly do to protect CBD, what a “local option” for medical marijuana could mean and which pharmaceutical company to watch out for and how some uncommon knowledge about that company led him to produce a full-spectrum CBD product instead of an isolate.

We also discuss what future Hemp Farmacy stores might look like — including one in Colorado, and why he divested from the medical marijuana industry before starting Hempleton. But now, he says, he can go to legislators armed with data proving North Carolina’s fledgling cannabis industry is making a positive impact on the state’s economy.

Hamilton urges people to help the industry break down barriers via education and advocacy in 2019, in what he agrees is the ‘year of hemp’.

[Read: Carolina hemp leaders share top five goals for 2019.]

“There is no time better than right now” to get into the hemp industry, Hamilton says. “There are hundreds of millions of dollars being invested right here in the state of North Carolina that haven’t been disclosed … infrastructure is being created that will allow the industry here in North Carolina to grow at a tenfold pace in 2019 and 2020. And a tenfold pace compared to where we are now is unbelievable.”

We also discuss Hempleton’s sponsorship of Carolina Cannabis News, a recent partnership announcement with Between Dandelions that will benefit military veterans and we acknowledge that as people learn more about why cannabis is has experienced legal issues they will be, as Hamilton says, “as upset with their government as I am at the prohibition of this plant for over 80 years.”

BY Rhiannon Fionn

BY Rhiannon Fionn

Editor & Publisher

Rhiannon Fionn is an award-winning journalist based in Charlotte, N.C.