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Hemp, CBD Oil Wellness Center Coming to Old City with Products Made in Knoxville

Knoxville-founded Blühen Botanicals has received a $30 million investment and will launch its own retail brand of hemp and CBD oil products, the company announced Monday.

The hemp processing and extracting company also will open its flagship hemp wellness retail concept in the Old City this spring.

Joe Fox is co-founder and CEO of Blühen Botanicals.

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“As quickly as this market is moving and as quickly as other brands are launching, we felt it was wise of us to push our team to open our brick-and-mortar sooner than I think anyone anticipated,” co-founder and managing partner Joe Fox said.

A rendering shows the Blühen Botanicals retail wellness center planned for the Old City. (Photo: Blühen Botanicals)

Blühen-brand wellness products will be sold at the 111 E. Jackson Ave. store and on the company's website beginning May 17, just in time for Rhythm N' Blooms.

The first product line launched will focus on overall wellness. Products will include hemp extract tinctures, capsules, topical creams, hemp flower buds for smoking, as well as pet treats and oils.

The brand will release products with specific uses down the road, including for sleep, anxiety, stress management and muscle recovery. Products will be as organic as possible.

“You name it, there are so many different ways that you can incorporate hemp into a holistic wellness experience,” Fox said.

The brand will give recommendations without making health claims, he said.

Blühen Botanicals will open a hemp wellness facility in the Old City at 111 E. Jackson Ave. The 4,086-square-foot hemp retail store will become Blühen Botanicals' fifth operation in Knoxville, including its pharmaceutical-grade hemp research facility.

The 4,086-square-foot location next door to Lonesome Dove will be a hemp wellness center, combining retail sales, a viewable indoor hemp-growing facility, a lounge area, an event space and a cafe with a limited menu of hemp-infused items.

“There’s so many questions surrounding this entire industry, so it was really about creating an educational and wellness experience,” Fox said.

The menu might include hemp-infused items like tea, kombucha and small-batch food dishes made by local artisans. Blühen has partnered with Elkmont Exchange (both owned by Fox) to brew a hemp-infused beer and is working with PostModern Spirits to distill hemp-infused beer into a local gin.

The store was designed by Sanders Pace Architecture, Fox said. The second retail location is planned for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where SOL Global Investments CEO Brady Cobb lives.

A rendering shows Blühen Botanicals, which will open at 111 E. Jackson Ave.

Though medical marijuana is now legal in Florida, Fox said they will likely just sell hemp.

"This brand is focused on hemp," Fox said. "And you may see us eventually go down the cannabis path, but for now we’re focused on hemp."

The retail space will become Blühen Botanicals' fifth operation in Knoxville, including its pharmaceutical-grade hemp research facility.

The company has purchased a 36,000-square-foot manufacturing space at Middlebrook Pike and Weisgarber, Fox said, in addition to its Central Street production facility. They will be scaling production "exponentially," he said, but are focused on regulatory compliance and quality first.

Joe Fox is co-founder and managing partner of Blühen Botanicals.

The investment capital will enable Blühen Botanicalsto accelerate its growth strategy, Fox said.

SOL Global Investments Corp. is an international cannabis investment company and will use its $30.6 million investment in Blühen Botanicals to diversify into the hemp and CBD-related marketplaces through HeavenlyRx Holdings.

40 Under 40: Entrepreneur Joe Fox is betting on hemp, CBD oil

Blühen will become the exclusive supplier of bulk hemp extracts to HeavenlyRx, Cobb said in a news release.

“CBD is the primary cannabinoid available in North America, but there are more than 100 cannabinoids that will soon enter the market," Cobb said. "This partnership will allow Blühen and HeavenlyRx to scale globally.”

By 2022, the CBD industry will be worth $22 billion, according to market research.

“We have the largest network of expert farmers in the state of Tennessee who are growing hemp organically, and now, we’re empowered to scale our existing facilities faster, expand our farming network wider, and implement the highest international regulatory standards across the board," Fox said.

The company employs a team of 30 people, including farming advisers, entomologists, plant pathologists, agronomists, chemists and engineers.

The company plans to hire more staff and to purchase farmland as well.

Blühen Botanicals hemp flower and extracts

CBD products are used to treat pain, anxiety and overall wellness.

Use of hemp-derived CBD products has become more mainstream thanks in part to the Food and Drug Administration's approval of Epidiolex, a CBD-based medication to treat severe forms of epilepsy.

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“Our goal is to produce the most premium and wellness-focused hemp CBD products, from seed to consumer,” said Erich Maelzer, director of horticulture and co-founder of Blühen.

Commercial hemp production and CBD oil extraction are legal in Tennessee. Industrial hemp is a form of cannabis sativa, and while it's from the same plant family as marijuana, it does not induce a high, according to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

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