The legalization of marijuana in the state of Colorado has opened up business opportunities, and the Neal family, formerly of Florida, are making sure they capitalize in the unconventional industry. Craig and Celena Neal live in a small community called Rocky Ford, a location best known for growing melons. Nowadays, Rocky Ford is gaining more attention for growing marijuana.
Craig is no stranger to the marijuana industry and his Colorado relocation was no fluke. During his time in the cannabis world he assures that he has “met lots of people” and “made some valuable connections.” But even so, how do Floridians end up growing pot in Colorado?
A former student of Colorado University, Craig noticed the lucrative business potential of the marijuana industry as the state fully legalized the plant for both medical and recreational use. Unsurprisingly, Craig said that anyone and everyone was trying to make a quick buck when Colorado went legal, but it was his partnership with Folium Biosciences that allowed him to leapfrog the rest, with their joint focus on CBD-rich marijuana. Craig also made connections with farmers in the Colorado area who wanted to expand their businesses beyond local agriculture.
Craig figured that it would be just as easy to grow CBD-rich cannabis as it would any strain of marijuana. So after being invited to Folium Biosciences HQ, Craig was able to showcase his skills and connections to bring their revolutionary idea into being.
Folium had no intentions of taking things slowly, and just days after agreeing to get on board, Craig had quit his job in Florida and upped sticks with his wife to Rocky Ford to take on a new role as Director of Grow Operations at Folium.
Even in a marijuana progressive state like Colorado, the legislation can be pretty complex. State law classifies CBD-rich marijuana as “CBD hemp” providing the total THC content is less than 0.3 percent. However, marijuana and hemp are really completely different plants, despite the fact they are both part of the cannabis sativa species. Industrial hemp plants are tall and thin, in comparison to CBD-rich marijuana strains, such as those at Folium Biosciences, which grow much shorter and stockier. The CBD-rich marijuana strain WHC1 invariably grows under one meter high.
In addition, the CBD concentrations in marijuana are far greater than in industrial hemp, making extraction far easier and cleaner with the former as less plant matter is required. And since industrial hemp is a bio-accumulator, the plant attracts toxins, chemicals and metals into the plant, which, if poorly extracted could end up in the finished extract product. However, none of this is an issue with CBD-rich cannabis as the concentrations are much higher leading to purer, cleaner CBD vape oil and other CBD extracts.
The WHC1 strain being grown by Craig and the Folium Biosciences team is astounding even those in the community with its mind-boggling 59:1 CBD to THC ratio. The overall CBD mass is thought to be anywhere between 8 and 18 percent of the overall plant mass. This strain has proven very successful – when administered in oil form – in treating epileptic patients (particularly children) – with hard-to-treat conditions like Dravet’s, which can cause multiple seizures per day and severely hamper quality of life. WHC1 is registered at the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
Folium has strived to manufacture the highest quality CBD-rich hemp oil in the world, and is now the largest vertically integrated producer of the product. Folium concentrate on providing consumers with full-spectrum oil, infused with various other cannabis compounds, such as cannabinoids (not THC) and terpenes, which give marijuana its smell. Full-spectrum advocates believe that by allowing the compounds to interact, the overall effects are more powerful than they would be if taken in CBD-isolate form.
Production has since gone into overdrive at Folium, with more than one million exact clones of the WHC1 strain growing in the company’s greenhouses. Craig and his wife Celena are in charge of operations, but have an entire team of farmers to help complete the job.
Harvests at Folium have been mighty impressive, exceeding 110 acres in 2015, and they perhaps would have beaten that figure in 2016 if not for a technicality with the Department of Agriculture. Diamond A Farms has worked with Folium to complete the harvest in the areas surrounding La Junta. Folium hopes to plant more than 500 acres of CBD-dominant marijuana in 2017. It’s ambitious but possible given their rapid progress in the industry.
To give an idea of the scale of the Folium project, their production facility operates out of an old Wal-Mart. Here, the harvested marijuana plants are dried out and prepared for processing.
Life has changed massively for Craig and Celena, but they seem delighted with their move from the Sunshine State to Colorado, and look to enjoy working on the farm too, bringing CBD e-juice products to consumers in Colorado and all over America.
However, not everybody has accepted the new liberal approach to cannabis, and some residents in Colorado still consider what Folium do comparable to drug trafficking. Craig and Celena note that some farmers in the area have been reluctant to lease out their land, not wanting to be associated with marijuana. But the battle is over and cannabis is perfectly legal in Colorado now, and it’s time for the stigma to go. Craig reckons that once those farmers see the financial opportunities of marijuana first-hand, their attitudes will change.