LOGAN, Utah — Dan Durham is starting his newest adventure: growing hemp in Cache Valley.
“Being federally and state legal has now opened the floodgates for opportunities and networking,” Durham said.
After being introduced to CBD oil by a friend for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relief properties, Durham decided he wanted to be able to grow and sell CBD hemp extract. So Durham applied to license Cache Valley Hemp LLC.
“Because it has only just happened in the last few months,” Durham said, “it’s a race to get all the legal ducks in a row, get everyone on the same page and source outrageously expensive seed. It’s kind of crazy right now.”
Durham said that he and his wife have seen and felt firsthand what hemp extract can do.
“We dog-sat a 14-year-old Labrador retriever for two weeks, and I had to carry this old girl up and down our stairs for potty breaks due to her spine being virtually fused,” Durham said. “After starting a CBD regimen, she was able to take those stairs herself.”
Durham directs the Veterans Service Animal Project and said he has seen a lot of individuals who could benefit from CBD.
“I personally have had pain completely disappear in two days applying CBD oil to my knee,” Durham said. “I want to grow hemp because the cost for relief is quite steep, keeping this incredible, God-given plant out of reach for many.”
Under House Bill 3001, passed by Utah lawmakers Dec. 3, 2018, legal possession of hemp extract, or CBD oil, containing less than 0.3 percent THC no longer requires a registration card.
Cannabidiol, referred to as CBD, is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis flower. The flower has a history of medical uses going back thousands of years. CBD is safe and non-addictive, according to a recent World Health Organization report.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, is a different compound that has separate therapeutic influences. THC is the compound that causes psychoactive effects and is not found in CBD.
To be clear, hemp, cannabis and marijuana are three different things that come from the same plant family.
Both CBD and THC can be found in hemp, however, hemp has a lower THC concentration. Hemp is used for industrial purposes including paper and clothing. Marijuana is used for recreational purposes. Harvesting the CBD and THC from either plant can be used medically, but CBD oil extracted from hemp has little to no recreational purpose.
In most of the United States, Utah included, the legal limit of THC is 0.3 percent.
“I’m privileged to be surrounded by incredible people that have done so much for this country through their service,” Durham said.
Durham said he’s the son of a multi-tour Vietnam veteran whose military service spanned more than two decades. Many of his friends served, and “all bear the weight of guarding our freedoms,” he said.
“Some of these burdens include blast injuries, burn pit exposure and PTSD. Many of the harmful drugs that Veterans Affairs pass out like cheap Halloween candy can potentially be replaced by some form of cannabis, hemp or otherwise. I know several veterans that have done exactly that with high-CBD hemp extract.”
Recently, University of Utah and Intermountain Health Care officials have announced that doctors are now able to recommend cannabis for patients.
“We’re ready for patients to meet with their physicians, their nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and begin the conversation around, ‘Is medical cannabis something that I should consider?’” said Mark Briesacher, Intermountain’s chief physician executive in a press conference earlier this month.
“Legalization is critical to what we love and why we are so excited for it,” Durham said. “Scaling up to commercial just means we can do so much more. This is 100 percent about love, and we plan on maximizing the good that can be done for our community.”
Durham said that he and his wife, Mandy, are still learning a lot and will be traveling to the largest hemp expo next month to rub shoulders with people from a few other organizations.
“The goals for the business are derived from our original motivations,” Durham said. “Help the rescues, veterans and less fortunate. To do that, we are hoping to partner with interested local landowners.
“We certainly won’t be a huge operation by any stretch of the imagination at first, but it’s a start. Growth is the direction we’re heading,” Durham said.
Licensing for hemp growth goes through the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. Products can be marketed and distributed provided they are registered with the department.