When Bluegrass Farmaceuticals went looking for a business partner for the products it now makes in Miamisburg, the company found a big one in three-time Grammy-winning musician Nelly.
A family-, women- and minority-owned company, Bluegrass secured a meeting with the entertainer, entrepreneur and philanthropist in 2019 and pitched him its line of CBD-infused products and its technology. Nelly agreed, becoming not only a brand ambassador, but also securing an ownership stake, according to Jonathan Tumey, the company’s chief technology officer.
“His goals were aligned with our business and our mission,” Tumey told the Dayton Daily News. “He was interested and wanted to be part of this opportunity in our organization.”
CBD is a chemical found in marijuana that doesn’t contain THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.
Bluegrass Farmaceuticals’ large portfolio includes hemp-derived beverages, edibles and products without THC. They include pharmaceutical-grade ingredients with no additives, preservatives or dangerous chemicals, according to the company.
Tumey said that’s mainly what drew the interest of Nelly, whose real name is Cornell Haynes Jr.
Bluegrass Farmaceuticals opened its Miamisburg facility at 965 Capstone Drive in the Mound Business Park in 2019 with one 1,000-square feet room. It since has purchased another room that is twice that size and is renovating the space..
The company, which is headquartered in Belton, Ky., expects to double or triple the size of its Miamisburg location over the next several years, he said.
“The Mound ... they’ve been excellent to us,” Tumey said. “They’re an excellent spot for anybody who would be interested in laboratories.”
Products are hand-crafted and formulated in Miamisburg, including the KLOUD5 line of vaping products the company launched in September 2020.
Nelly played a large role in shaping the line, including the iKON vaping device used to consume Bluegrass’ CBD E-Liquids, telling the company what he liked and didn’t like.
“He kind of steered the car, if you will, in terms of the product development,” Tumey said.
The KLOUD5 product line is “on a solid trajectory,” he said, adding that the company is hitting its goals for the year.
“Bluegrass Farmaceuticals’ consumer-centric approach and their refusal to compromise on quality and purity excites me,” Nelly said in a statement. “Our products take cannabis-infused vaping to the next level, which means responsible adults can enjoy these products in a superior way. I’m proud to be the company’s partner in this.”
Bluegrass Farmaceuticals has 13 patents pending for its technologies. The company said it is developing and commercializing advanced therapeutic devices for in-home extraction and consumption of cannabis therapeutics, making cannabis consumption more convenient for consumers.
“We kind of hang our hat on being not just a CBD compliant, but a high-tech, biotech kind of company,” Tumey said. “We’re heavily involved in intellectual property (and) we’re experts at formulating.”
Much of Bluegrass Farmaceuticals’ revenue is driven from direct-to-consumer lines and much of the growth it is seeing is contract manufacturing for current Ohio hemp cultivators, including Power of the Flower and Ohio State Hemp.
“They grow, we process,” Tumey said. “We’re basically a full-service laboratory turnkey, and that’s what they like. We hand you, at the end of the day, a sellable product and we do it in a reasonable amount of time.”
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