‘We’re just farmers.’ Hemp drying facility opens its doors in Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. -- Industrial hemp now the latest crop to pop up on Hoosier farms. Now the city of Kokomo has found its way at the center of this new frontier with the opening of new business.

“There’s nothing suspicious going on here,” Mike Lewis said, “We hear that a lot!”

Mike Lewis with Third Wave Farms says they just take it all in stride, giving some inquiring minds a tour of their 22,000 square foot hemp drying facility.

“Most of this product here will be turned into CBD oil,” Lewis said.

The facility opened in October along North Washington Street. It handles about 50,000 pounds of hemp a day, drying the harvest and doing quality control for local hemp farmers.

The 2018 federal farm bill removed hemp from the controlled substances act. This year, Indiana lawmakers passed rules to regulate hemp farming. That is why Third Wave, which is based in Kentucky, saw Indiana as the perfect breeding ground.

"We just found everybody was really open and welcome to what we were trying to accomplish, and it just made a lot of sense to us to go somewhere where arms were open and people were looking for something,” Lewis said.

During their open house Friday, their Kokomo neighbors got an up-close look at what they do. While many were intrigued by the process, it hasn’t been all rave reviews for Third Wave.

Lewis admits they’ve had a few complaints from neighbors about the marijuana-like smell of the plant. One person even called the police, and some have complained about the noise.

Lewis says there’s a lot of misconceptions about what they do, but they’re trying to be the best neighbors they can be.

"We’re just a bunch of farmers, trying to reshape and reclaim some of the ag economies we lost over the last 20-30 years,” Lewis said. "we’re growing a cannabis plant, but it is federally legal thing we’re doing. It's compliant and we’re excited to be a part of the community.”

Lewis says already there are already plans to expand. At least two more facilities are planned for Indiana. During the off-season, he says they hope to use the facility to dry other agricultural products for local farmers.

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