by Holly Highlife
If Johnny Appleseed has a modern day hemp counterpart, it is John Long of Fort Collins. His mission: to support organic-certified Colorado farmers to raise top quality hemp for the production of cannabidiol or “CBD.”
“I started learning about CBD three years ago, and it caught my attention, both from a science perspective and because of my family history with cancer,” says Long. He holds a Master’s degree in Botany from CSU. His mother succumbed to brain cancer when Long was a graduate student at CSU.
While many focus on the THC content of various cannabis strains, CBD went widely unnoticed until they began to show promise in treating seizures through CBD strains like Charlotte’s Web. CBD has also shown medical promise in many other areas, including killing cancer cells in laboratory settings.
“CBD is being used to treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia, MS, MD, diabetes, menstrual cramps, menopause, migraines; and anyone with a chronic pain will notice a change.”
“Not all CBD is created equal,” says Long, who is one of four members that operate the Fat Pig Society, which is the workers’ co-op and founding member of the CannaTech Cooperative. This name will be changed soon to reflect the grassroots, community-based approach with production, processing, and distribution. “Our goal as a farm cooperative is to support our certified organic farm members to grow and harvest hemp.” He also intends to break the stranglehold China has on the production of CBD.“We’re out to crash the inflated prices that most CBD products demand in the market. We currently sell our coconut-based CBD oil for just 10-cents per milligram.”
Currently, most CBD products available in the U.S., including those by Medical Marijuana, Inc., and Kannaway, ship a crude CBD paste imported from China. The imported material is often tainted with numerous toxins and impurities. It’s also expensive, currently costing the consumer between 30 and 50 cents per milligram or even up to a dollar.
In China, hemp is grown in large fields surrounded by coal plants and other mass polluters. The crops are treated with both herbicides and pesticides, and are often tended by workers that are paid ultra-low wages.
During harvest, the hemp can lay on the ground for several weeks, developing mold and mildew before it’s sent to massive processing plants. From there, the CBD is extracted using nasty chemicals like naphtha, hexane, or butane. “This process simply concentrates all these contaminants into a concentrated form that is shipped to the U.S. and sold at inflated prices ” says Long.
A recent report by an independent, nonprofit called ‘Project CBD’ slammed several Colorado companies, who have since been fined by the FDA for selling contaminated CBD products.. Their findings showed the hemp paste contained biological contaminants, solvents, heavy metals, and pesticides.
Tamar Wise, former chief scientist for Denver-based Dixie Botanicals says, “I’m tired of so-called CBD companies claiming that what they provide is medicine. Anyone using CBD from hemp should be aware of what you’re actually getting, because it may not be what you think.”
“Know your source, and know how it is grown,” says Long. “If you are using anything but an organic CBD product, you are putting yourself at risk.” The co-op grows a special variety of hemp that is less than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, but contains up to 18% CBD, the highest amount they’ve found to date. “Most hemp is very low in CBD, but we stumbled across a very unique strain that only our Co-op will grow.”
The primary goals of the Fat Pig Society are to support Colorado organic farmers and help patients get access to high-quality CBD. However, Long was diagnosed a year ago with Stage 4 colon cancer, even though he’s been involved in this effort for almost three years. He is using both CBD and THC as part of his treatment regimen with full support from his oncologist. He currently takes several hundred milligrams of each per day, taking advantage of the “entourage effect”, which describes how cannabinoids work best together in concert.
Long is part of a larger movement to grow hemp in Colorado and across the nation, as more states legalize this important crop. The Cooperative will be seeking farmer members in early 2016, so any certified organic farmer should contact Long for details. “This could be the most profitable crop they’ve ever grown,” noting that up to $5,000 net per acre is very realistic, up ten-fold from a good year presently. “We’re not profit-driven, quite the opposite. We’re not trying to make $100 million, we’re trying to make a million dollars for 100 farmers, while helping people with a variety of ailments.”
Long and the FPS are currently in the process of branding this product. “We’ve given away hundreds of jars so far. No retailers are permitted to markup our product either, so the price will remain at 10-cents per milligram and our goal is to make it even more affordable in the future, as hundreds of acres are growing this amazing plant.”
“Our co-op model is unique on production, processing, and distribution.” The FPS relies heavily on volunteers to volunteer on the farm, process the oil, and sell it to friends and family. Volunteers earn a jar for every 8 hours of work, or by selling the product. For each case sold, our “Agents of Change” get the 12th jar for free. Plus, CBD can be shipped legally anywhere in the country, since the product contains under 0.3% THC.”
Long’s yet-to-be named product is currently sold at the Fort Collins Food Co-op, since they are also a cooperative and not a typical retail store. The FPS will not allow the retail mark-up at traditional stores, so most “Agents of Change” will be our friends in the alternative health market, such as acupuncturists, rolfers, massage therapists, and herbalists across the country.
For more information, John Long can be reached at: JohnRagnarLong@gmail.com.