Scaling Up Facilities for Hemp and Cannabis Production: An Engineering Primer: Page 4 of 4

March 11, 2020
Abstract / Synopsis: 

The challenges of scale-up are not insurmountable. Resources are available for start-ups and small businesses to overcome and develop plans to scale-up. This support needs to be a holistic approach. Learning from others and planning can help entrepreneurs avoid common pitfalls of scale-up.
Here, we outline a holistic approach to scaling up.

Utilization of Cannabis and Hemp-Based Scoping Strategies

Whether you classify your feedstock as hemp or cannabis, your scoping strategy ties into the regulatory environment, your locational environment, and what the municipality will allow, among other factors. The U.S. Farm Bill set a level of below 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to be considered industrial hemp, but ultimately it’s all cannabis, and you can’t lose sight of that very basic fact as you build your business.

Let’s consider feedstock strategy. Different plants can be cloned to provide different levels of THC, levels of oil, sizes of buds, and so forth. You have to understand what your state will allow. If you can’t have any cannabis in your state at this point, or you don’t see it happening in the future, it’s not advisable to design a facility that’s capable of providing or processing cannabis at the moment. It would make more sense to design for that capability once you understand how the regulatory environment will change. In the meantime, you may need to focus your efforts on finding other feedstocks.

If you are planning to use both low THC hemp feedstocks and cannabis, you have to plan for a separation of the two. It is essential to have good controls over the feedstock for medical marijuana manufacturing, including whatever waste is coming out of your plant. Even as states deregulate, there will still be a need for that level of control. It’s analogous to the GMP implemented in the production or processing of alcohol or tobacco.

Scoping strategies, therefore, boil down to how industrial hemp and cannabis will be handled in your facility because the two are handled differently and they are going to remain that way. If you plan to have both in your plant, you will have to accommodate both, with rules for separating them at the warehouse to guidelines for processing psychotropic from nonpsychotropic products. Those considerations will be vital to your plans for scoping your facility as your business expands.


As we’ve seen, it’s an exciting time to be in the business of cannabis processing. Scaling up your facilities requires considerable upfront planning, taking into account not only your business goals and priorities, but how specifically you expect your organization to grow over the span of five or 10 years or more. By creating a strategic plan that takes into account state and municipal codes and the federal regulatory environment to come, you can be well on your way to developing a facility design that will scale to accommodate your needs as your business grows.


About the Author

Charles Jabara is a senior project manager with CRB in Kansas City, Missouri. Direct correspondece to: [email protected].

How to Cite this Article

C. Jabara, Cannabis Science and Technology 3(2), 40–44 (2020).