Floyd Landis has hopped on the CBD bandwagon. Last week, he and his two colleagues went to make rounds of his Amish farms nestled in southern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to check on the crops. The plants belong to the same species – Cannabis Sativa – that produces cannabis which makes people high when they smoke it, however, technically their crops are hemp, a special genus of cannabis which consists of low THC content.
THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive substance found in cannabis plants that renders a euphoric feeling and produces hallucinations if consumed in high amounts. It tends to produce chemical changes in your brain that might even trigger seizures, and cause mental disorders.
However, hemp plant consists of CBD, or cannabidiol, another substance found in marijuana genus plants which are non-psychoactive in nature. CBD has garnered immense popularity for its anti-inflammatory properties that aid in treating acute pain, inflammation, swelling, muscle injury, and even cancer. Many people also use CBD for reducing stress, anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved only one CBD infused medicine known as Epidiolex to treat two rare and severe forms of epilepsy found in children – Dravet syndrome and Lennox Gastaut syndrome. Children suffering from either of these forms of epilepsy experience multiple seizures in a day, which tend to hamper their overall growth, both physically and mentally.
CBD is now easily available on the streets of the US. It can be found in gummies, vape pens, chocolates, oils, tincture, topicals, creams, and even edibles. From brick and mortar shops to online platforms, there are plenty of companies that offer CBD based products.
One such company is Floyd’s of Leadville which sells CBD infused creams, tinctures and edible gummies. About six months ago, Floyd had placed a small advertisement in the Lancaster Farming magazine to grab some attention from local farmers in growing hemp, which had been newly legalized under the Farm Bill of 2018. Floyd rented a meeting room for 150 people, but almost twice that many farmers showed up.
Most of these farmers were Amish, fascinated by the idea of a new cash crop that could potentially replace tobacco, their old standby, which had been in decline for years. More than 50 farmers agreed and signed on to grow test patches on Floyd’s farm. Fast forward to a few months later, the harvest time is looming.
Floyd holds a conical flower covered in drops of a sticky oil and says, “Check it out”. One of his colleagues, Wayne Bendistis, the head of agricultural sciences for Floyd said, “Epic” while looking at the flower.
There are different strains of hemp and each one of them has stoner-esque names, like Sour Space Candy, and Purple Haze. The legal limit for the concentration of THC is around 0.3% or less by weight. More than this limit, the plant is considered to be marijuana and is thus illegal in Pennsylvania.
Wayne explains to farmer Ben King about a particular plant, with the orange pistils and says that it’s ready to harvest. The ones with the white pistils are still not ready, says Wayne.
Wayne is quite passionate about growing cannabis and he is mostly self-taught. On the other hand, Ben grows a wide range of crops, from corn to ornamental cabbages and now Hemp. An acre of corn is worth nearly $570, whereas this acre of hemp with about 2,000 plants offers a significant payday of roughly $20,000, depending on the market value.
Ben’s interest in hemp runs deeper than just cash. Jake Sitler, the company’s business director hands him an assortment of Floyd’s of Leadville products, including a bottle of CBD gummies and CBD tincture. Ben uses these CBD products to combat the pains and aches he experiences on a regular basis by working 16-hour days on his 100-acre farm.
Ben holds a hemp flower that fell on the ground and says that he plans to first dry it and then add it to the family’s “meadow tea,” a traditional Amish concoction which is created from foraged herbs and plants.
Ben says that the soil has played a vital role in boosting the growth of these hemp plants. He said he had once sprayed them, but he hasn’t used any pesticides or chemicals on the crop since then. Instead of using harsh chemicals that could alter the quality of the plants, Ben brought in a colony of wasps to prey on the bugs that might destroy the hemp crops.
Floyd and his team seem to be excited about the new harvest!