Large Local Hemp CBD Company Announces Operations Near Downtown Knoxville

Bluhen Representatives Joe Fox and Matthew Debardelaben Visit a Hemp Farm

As momentum has spread nationally to legalize medical marijuana and, in some cases recreational marijuana, distinctions have also begun to be recognized between marijuana and hemp. Banned when marijuana became illegal, many states are now acknowledging that hemp has numerous potential uses, including the extraction of CBD (cannabidiol) for medicinal benefits. The industry is expected to surpass $2 billion by 2020.

Tennessee is one of the states to have allowed legal hemp production, acknowledging the potential benefits of the cultivars developed to have a higher CBD concentration. These cultivars have, by law, less than .3% THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. Large hemp crops have been cultivated across a number of states, including Tennessee.

Bluhen Botanicals Research and Development, 1329 Chilhowee Ave, Knoxville, August 2018

Security at Bluhen Botanicals Research and Development, 1329 Chilhowee Ave, Knoxville, August 2018

2209 North Central Street, Knoxville, September 2017

A local group, Blühen Botanicals, has constructed a research and development facility at 1329 Chilhowee Avenue to support their new company as they prepare for production of CBD oils and other products. The primary processing and production facility is planned for a larger space (18,000 square feet) at the former pie factory/Habitat for Humanity building at 2209 North Central – a building which was slated for demolition just last year. Plans also call for a CBD retail outlet at the spot.

While the crop has no recreational drug properties, the company has taken extreme security precautions at the research and development facility, just the same. Thirteen cameras currently monitor the site and more are planned. The windows have steel bars and the concrete block walls are filled with cement. The doors are steel.

The new industry is emerging under very strict controls. Joe Fox, one of the owners of the new company, says they are working closely with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, which tests the plants to confirm the levels of THC. The company performs another round of tests, as well, and a third-party lab adds a third layer of testing. The R&D facility will provide seeds, seedlings and clones to farmers and also produce high quality hemp flowers rich in cannabidol.

Growth Lights at Bluhen Botanicals Research and Development, 1329 Chilhowee Ave, Knoxville, August 2018

Growth Lights at Bluhen Botanicals Research and Development, 1329 Chilhowee Ave, Knoxville, August 2018

Hemp production has been illegal since 1936. Largely produced outdoors, the Knoxville company will contract with farmers, but will also grow their own crop indoors. Testing is currently underway to develop insect and disease-resistant strains and cultivars which thrive in Tennessee’s climate and produce a high concentration of CBD.

When fully operational, the processing facility will be the largest in the state and, perhaps, the region. The indoor production facilities will utilize deep water culture hydroponics. Growth lights are all high efficiency LED lights, the HVAC is 23 SEAR, a water-recapture system has been put into place and required insulation has been doubled to make the 2,000 square foot R&D facility as energy efficient as possible. The same efficiency measures will be replicated at the larger facility.

The group has consulted with producers, researchers and industry experts all over the country in preparation for the start-up. A financial consultant involved with other hemp businesses was employed, along with a consultant from California who helped launch over 1 million square feet of production facilities nationwide. Locally, Sanders Pace Architecture and Build Knox Construction assisted in the build-out.

Hemp Plants at Bluhen Botanicals Research and Development, 1329 Chilhowee Ave, Knoxville, August 2018

Fox’ friend, horticulture expert and now co-owner of the new company, Eric Maelzer, suggested he explore the option of developing a hemp company.The launch comes at the end of eighteen months of due diligence. Initially feeling the industry sounded like it was selling snake oil, he found high quality CBD products whose manufacturers were not making outlandish claims. He met people who told him stories of how their lives had been changed by CBD. He became convinced and now is determined to contribute to the science behind the helpful qualities of the plant.

The processing plant should be operational by the end of this year and will, “have the capacity to process 2,000 pounds of hemp biomass per day with the potential to rapidly scale its output beyond that capacity in the future.” With 2018 projected to be a 12-year low for U.S. farm income, the group hopes to be able to help Tennessee farmers rebound with an economically profitable crop.

Bud of a Hemp Plant at Bluhen Botanicals Research and Development, 1329 Chilhowee Ave, Knoxville, August 2018

The group is already positioning itself as an industry leader, as Blühen Botanicals will, “serve as presenting sponsor for the inaugural Southern Hemp Expo in Nashville” later this month. “The expo will showcase hemp producers, consumer brands and new developments in farming, genetics and hemp-based products.”

They hope to have the retail outlet open on Central by next spring. Check them out on Facebook and learn more at their website, as they begin the journey to putting Knoxville on the map for hemp research and CBD production.


  1. I wish you well in your new venture.

  2. It’s great to hear of a business and operation like this coming to and choosing to operate in Knoxville. CBD can help in many ways. I have used CBD Oil once thus far. I was sceptical at first to be honest. I am new found supporter after having used CBD oil for panic/anxiety attacks. For me it did not completely abate the attacks. But it did take my panic attacks well below what I call a severe threshold. I was completely able to function without having to do the usual actions one does while experiencing a severe panic attack. I would really like to see CBD Oil and this company in general be successful and grow. A non-addictive solution is heartily needed to fill the gaps for people whom dislike taking pharmaceutical medicine.

  3. I believe it’s an excellent use for the building on Central St and I hope that it will create some much needed jobs in our area, as well as local farmers who’ve had to find other venues of production since tobacco is no longer a viable commodity. I’m also happy to see that we’ll have a locally sourced option for those people who rely on CBD oil to help with medical issues. I’m hoping that with more knowledge people will overcome the stigma that’s been placed on CBD oil as it’s made with hemp & is not a recreational drug, but a natural treatment for many ailments.

  4. Joshua Sullivan says

    Are you hiring?

  5. This is such a very cool use for this building and I look forward to seeing the amazing design that Sanders Pace thinks up for both spaces. Congrats to the team for their efforts to bring this valuable research to East Tennessee!

  6. This could be good news for this area, for so many reasons. CBD is now being used by many who experience pain, but were only prescribed highly addictive pain killers before CBD benefits became accepted. If anyone doubts how beneficial it can be, please view the following video produced by 60 Minutes on CBS and narrated by Dr. Tara Narula:

  7. I’m so glad to see this! I’ve been deeply involved with CBD since March of this year. I sell and use CBD from a couple different high quality companies. I am excited to learn about this company and happy to see them in Knoxville! CBD has certainly changed my life for the better. Congratulations!

  8. Will there be a focus on non-GMO/organic strains?

  9. I hope you guys will come to Indiana when we finally legalize, which I’m sure will be annny day now… lol

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