CBD products’ popularity are behind the growth of hemp farms in the area. North Jersey Record
Down a quiet country road in Warwick, N.Y.,¬†just north of the Jersey border, past homes on large lots, an elementary school and open fields that create a patchwork quilt of greens and browns, is a farm where marijuana’s close relative ‚ÄĒ hemp¬†‚ÄĒ is grown and cultivated.
Although both belong to the cannabis family, hemp may be grown legally in New York and New Jersey, but marijuana¬†¬†‚ÄĒ not yet. ¬†
Hemp, which has¬†0.3 percent¬†of tetrahydrocannabinol¬†and won’t produce a high, looks and smells like marijuana, which does produce a high with its 5 to 20 percent THC levels. (THC¬†is the psychoactive¬†component found in marijuana¬†‚ÄĒ the chemical that produces a high when smoked or ingested.)¬†
The look¬†and smell of the plant sometimes confuses local authorities who pop in to “investigate.” Once they learn the hemp plants are not “the other cannabis,”¬†the authorities are satisfied and move on.
The strong cannabis odor and moist air that comes from the wet soil welcome¬†visitors to the East Coast’s half of Fusion CBD, a hemp-growing company run by co-founder and former Bergen County resident Ed McCauley. The¬†flagship farm¬†is in Oregon and run by the other founder, Adam Kurtz, who comes from three generations of farmers, most recently flower growers.
There are plans to expand to Atlantic County in South Jersey by year’s end, McCauley said during a recent tour of the New York facility.
As McCauley pointed to the hemp plants that filled the dozens of large black plastic pots inside the greenhouses, he said they will soon move outdoors for the summer sun. They will be planted outside, where they will remain until the return of the cold weather, when they will be re-planted into the pots and returned to the greenhouses.¬†
As employees placed new soil around plants with rock music playing in the background, McCauley talked of how he and Kurtz¬†met in 2016 and talked of becoming business partners to grow marijuana. They decided to enter the hemp business, even as they¬†keep¬†an eye on marijuana legislation in multiple states.¬†
It‚Äôs expensive to set up marijuana greenhouses, McCauley said.¬†
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‚ÄúSomewhere along the line the word ‘hemp’ had come up,” he said. What followed were some discussions and research, from which they learned that while “it still comes with challenges,” hemp has fewer restrictions than marijuana. “We can grow as many acres as we want to and significantly less costly,‚ÄĚ he said. The product is used to produce¬†a line of soaps, mints, oils, and smokable hemp products.¬†
There is lots of hype surrounding the hemp plant derivative cannabidiol. It’s touted¬†as a natural remedy for just about anything, but the therapeutic claims are rarely supported¬†by medical evidence.¬†
This market generates as much as $2 billion in sales and may reach $16 billion by 2025, according to Cowen & Co.
The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, signed by President Donald Trump in¬†December, loosened restrictions on the use of hemp products that contain less than 0.3 percent¬†THC.
The farm bill removed products made with low-THC hemp, used to extract CBD, from the schedule 1 category that includes marijuana and other drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
This move has accelerated the use of CBD products, which are still subject to federal and¬†state oversight. Most states allow¬†CBD, while a handful still restrict its use.¬†
The Food and Drug Administration regulates CBD products, much as it regulates nutritional supplements.¬†
The FDA approved one cannabidiol¬†drug,¬†Epidiolex,¬†to treat seizures from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two¬†rare kinds of epilepsy.¬†
McCauley’s company¬†has a goal of $10 million in revenue for 2019. The company¬†employs 20 in Oregon and Warwick and plans to expand into New Mexico and South Jersey.
“Last year we had 20 acres between miscellaneous small farmers around here, and this year in Oregon we are probably doing over 300 acres,” McCauley said.¬†¬†
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been an amazing and challenging ride so far,” he said. Now he and his partner want the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement some state-level uniformity control of requirements.
This article contains material from USA Today.¬†
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