CORTLAND, N.Y. (NCC News)—It did not matter the method, nothing was helping his health improve. Lyme disease was deteriorating his cognitive and muscular abilities at the age of 35. That was until Allan Gandelman began using CBD oils–the oil extracted from hemp plants–purchased from Colorado.
“Within four to six weeks, I was feeling so much better,” Gandelman said. “A lot of the inflammation had gone down. I was starting to be able to work more.”
So when New York State opened up licenses to research and grow hemp, Gandelman applied. He co-founded New York Hemp Oil in Cortland, an extension of the organic farm he already ran, to grow an affordable, effective product to help others like it helped him.
Farmers must receive a grant from the state in order to grow hemp. The state gave some of the first grants to Cornell University and SUNY Morrisville to research industrial growth.
One stipulation from the state, to ensure it has no psychological effects, is that hemp must be grown and processed while having less than a .3 per cent THC concentration. THC levels can change daily just based on the weather, and co-founder Karli Miller-Hornick said that presents a challenge.
“We could have a frost or something, and the plants THC levels will spike basically in bad climates,” Miller-Hornick said. “So it can be OK one day and not OK the next.”
Gandelman and Miller-Hornick also make a point to grow organically. This creates a “full-spectrum” product that is completely natural and healthier–akin to eating an orange rather than taking a vitamin C pill.
But despite the challenges, hemp can bring in a lot more money than traditional crops.
“[Farmers] might make 200 or $300 on an acre of corn where you could make maybe $100,000 on an acre of hemp,” Miller-Hornick said.
And because of that difference, she said bigger players–even Pepsi–are ready to jump in the CBD industry, too.