Western State Hemp grows the crop for consumer and animal usage.
Photo by Steve Ranson.
Adrienne Snow, co-owner of Western States Hemp Co., recognizes the sweet smell of success.
The Fallon businesswoman recently gave an overview to the Churchill Entrepreneurial Development Association about the business and what it now offers to consumers.
Snow, along with Joe Frey, began growing and cultivating hemp as a result of two federal farm bills that addressed the crop, the first coming in 2014 and the second in 2018.
The two farm bills, in part, opened the doors for hemp growers. For decades, both cannabis and hemp had been outlawed in the United States because the federal government classified hemp as a Schedule I controlled substance. Hemp has low levels of THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties.
Snow said Western States Hemp Co., was founded after the 2014 Farm Bill. In essence the bill allowed “institutions of higher education and state agriculture departments to grow hemp under a pilot program as long as state law permitted it. Additionally, the 2014 bill established a definition of industrial hemp, officially setting the THC threshold in the U.S. at 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
Snow said she and Frey planned their venture in 2016. Two years later, she said the farm bill made hemp a legal commodity at the federal level although she said there’s still a gray area on the percentage of THC it may contain. The latest bill also provides for both state and federal regulatory authority and treats the hemp industry as more of a normal business. Snow said between 2014 and 2018, many customers were required to pay for their purchases with cash. Now, those barriers have also been broken down with the buyers’ financial institution.
“They (government) accept us as a business,” he said. “We like to think we have broken down the barriers and put on a new face,” she said.
Snow said she and Frey developed their plans and then told their families, which caused a few raised eyebrows. They currently grow their industrial hemp on a field west of Fallon and their THC product on a 10-acre plot. She said with the popularity of hemp during the past several years and a saturation of the plant with the public, Snow said she and Frey scaled back their growing.
“Our goal is to be involved in the legislative process,” Snow said, adding their business is the only industrial-producing hemp operation in Nevada.
Both Snow and Frey said their long-term goals is to be involved in the industrial side of the hemp production. They are using the first regenerative growth for hemp by mitigating their water usage and reducing the carbon footprint.
She said hemp requires only one-fifth of the water needed for alfalfa, and hemp could also be a rotational crop
Snow and Frey have also contacted the University of Nevada Animal Science Department to explore the CBD (cannabidiol) benefits derived from hemp; furthermore, they’re also looking at the benefits of CBD to aide people in healing. To put it into perspective the marijuana’s properties contain more THC that CBD, while hemp’s main property is CBD.
“We’re seeing a lot of people derive benefits from the CBD products,” she said.
Snow said Western States Hemp also makes different derivatives such as an herbal tea blend and flour, which in turn, leads to the creation of more products. She said they also have equine and chicken supplements. She emphasized hemp cannot be used as a primary feed source
Currently, Snow said there’s no supply chain for hemp, but the company sells its products online and through a number of businesses in central and western Nevada and eastern California. She said Western States Hemp is working with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension on a grant to improve the industrial supply chain and infrastructure.