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Updated: Hemponix retail store opens Friday in Willmar

The retail store will be located at 1425 First St. S. and will sell hemp-derived products.

Hemponix
Hemponix new hemp retail store and ecommerce/warehouse site will open Friday at 1425 First Street South in Willmar.
Jennifer Kotila / West Central Tribune
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EDITOR'S NOTE: The Hemponix representative noted in this article published on A3 in the Nov. 25, 2022, epaper was incorrectly identified. This story was updated Nov. 26, 2022, to correctly identify Hemponix chief executive officer and partner Sam Romain, who appeared on Nov. 21, 2022, before the Willmar City Council in support of the company’s license request to sell THC products at its new location at 1425 First Street South in Willmar.

WILLMAR — Hemponix will open a new hemp retail store and ecommerce/warehouse site Friday at 1425 First St. S. in Willmar, according to Hemponix Facebook page.

Hemponix is a hemp farm located in rural New London that transitioned from an aeroponic lettuce-growing operation to a hemp-growing operation in 2018, according to Hemponix founder and master grower Kevin Ortenblad.

NEW LONDON -- What had been a large, empty pole barn on a farm in rural New London last year is now becoming a climate-controlled maze of computer-operated, high-powered lights and a water misting system housed on a dozen massive stainless steel ...

It was one of the first hemp farms in the state, Hemponix chief executive and partner Sam Romain told the Willmar City Council on Nov. 7 when the council approved a license for the company to sell THC products at its new location.

The city of Willmar enacted a $2,000 licensing fee to sell THC products, among other requirements, after Minnesota earlier this year legalized edible or consumable products that contain no more than 0.3% THC derived from legally certified hemp.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is a psychoactive compound that produces an intoxicating effect, whether it's derived from hemp or marijuana.

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Hemponix works with the University of Minnesota to develop unique strains to prevent high THC content, according to Romain.

“At the beginning of this year we launched a consumer line using our plants that are grown out of New London,” he said, noting they currently have a retail space in New London.

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Romain said the bulk of its business involves products using other hemp-derived chemicals and compounds, whether creams, oils, tinctures or capsules. Some products are being studied for treating glaucoma or inflammatory bowel disease, and others are believed to reduce pain or improve sleep quality, according to the company website.

"THC accounts for about a quarter of our product line,” Romain said.

He noted that Hemponix has been compliant with Minnesota laws regarding CBD and THC products, and it continues to pioneer in child-resistant packaging.

“No (packaging) that look like candy or cookies, because I am the father of two young boys and I don’t believe in those products, personally,” he said.

“There’s also a significant difference in what we are trying to build versus what competing businesses might have. We are not a tobacco store, we do not have that same vibe and aesthetic. We are not selling bongs and pipes. We’re primarily selling hemp-related products in reference to medical uses, but not medicinal, as the state might call it. It’s all hemp-derived products.”

Hemponix grows all its own products in its 5,000-square-foot facility. Aeroponics was first conceptualized by NASA to grow plants in space, according to the Hemponix website.

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Its setup took 15 years to develop and fine-tune into what it is today, farming vertically using computers to read and regulate every detail of the crop, including fertility, pH levels, light cycles and environmental conditions, according to the website.

Romain noted a benefit to moving its ecommerce/warehouse facility to Willmar is that using the Willmar Post Office saves two days on shipping time for its customers.

“A lot of benefits and we are super excited to be here. Local company, locally grown, locally made, locally sold,” Romain said.

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Jennifer Kotila is a reporter for West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minnesota. She focuses on local government, specifically the City of Willmar, and business.

She can be reached via email at: jkotila@wctrib.com or phone at 320-214-4339.
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