We sat down with Craig Neal from Hemp Breeders Network to talk CBD
Craig Neal is originally from Florida, but he’s a Colorado farmer—a hemp farmer, to be accurate. Craig, along with his wife Celena, who he calls his 100 percent partner on the farm, cultivates CBD-rich cannabis plants.
He attended college in Colorado and went on to work as a grower in a Denver dispensary. He explains: “I’m a networker. When the Green Rush hit here, there were lots of people seeking out opportunities. I was familiar with the people at Folium Biosciences. One thing led to another and I accepted a position as director of grow operations.”
Founded in 2014, Folium is a B2B, bulk and wholesale supplier of hemp-derived CBD oil, CBD water-soluble technology and CBD for animal health as certified by the state of Colorado. In his tenure with Folium, Craig harvested three massive crops of CBD-rich hemp in southeastern Colorado. His success earned him a measure of publicity and, in the process of handling queries from around the world, Craig says, “It just struck me one day: ‘Hey, we can do this ourselves!’”
CHAMPS CBD Report: Tell us about your company.
Craig Neal: We own our own company. It’s called Hemp Breeders Network. We grow in Rifle, CO. We have a greenhouse there. We work with several farms, putting our plants on their acreage. They buy my clones and then I take a percentage of the harvest. They build out the infrastructure for the farm. I’m with them through the entire process. It works really well for us. This year we’re going back to being hands-on, with full-time projects on big acreages. I’ll be setting up an 80-acre grow here in Rifle and I’ll also be doing 140 acres in Coburg, Oregon. It will increase to 600 acres next year.
CHAMPS CBD Report: Are you only involved in cultivation?
Craig Neal: What we’re doing is stabilizing genetics. We’re trying to pull up other cannabinoids. We believe in full-spectrum products—the entourage effect. [The entourage effect occurs when the many cannabinoids within the cannabis plant interact with the human body to produce a stronger influence than any one of those components alone.]
I’m a big believer in the complete cannabinoid terpene profile. The whole plant is the best way to make the plant work for the body. Cannabis is very CBD-rich—cannabinoid-rich and terpene-rich, as well. Terpenes have their own specific medical effects. I’ve been working with one particular plant since 2016. We’ve got eleven strains now. We’re harvesting plants with over 20 percent CBD and they’re high in CBG as well.
CBG is just another naturally created cannabinoid in the plant that has a great effect on the brain and, hopefully, on Alzheimer’s patients and people suffering from dementia. CBG has the potential to be a huge market. It’s a very valuable cannabinoid and we’re really eager to see the whole profile of the plant open up. There are other cannabinoids in the plant, too, that are miracle workers. Our plan is definitely not just CBD.
CHAMPS CBD Report: Has this changed the profile of your company?
Craig Neal: I’m still in the CBD business, for sure. But I’m moving further into overall genetics and cannabinoid profiles. I’m growing plants with very high CBD numbers and that’s my prime focus.
CBD is being processed in a particular way by a lot of companies. They’re making it into isolate. Like I said, I’m a full-spectrum believer; I believe in the whole plant. I understand why they’re doing it, because the stigma around this cannabinoid has been shattered. People are beginning to know it was all lies about cannabis and CBD, but they don’t know about other cannabinoids. Some actually believe that CBD is a brand name, something you find on the shelf at Walmart. It’s not a plant to them. It takes a while to break down the stigma about cannabis completely.
CHAMPS CBD Report: How does the CBD market work for a cultivator?
Craig Neal: What most companies do is take the biomass and extract all the CBD out of it and then the rest is goes to waste. What about all of the other cannabinoids in there? They don’t care, because they make about $6,000 per kilo of CBD isolate. Many people jumped into the CBD business from the marijuana sector, because the bottom dropped out of the market so quickly. Outdoor cannabis has dropped to $1,000 per pound. They’re jumping into it because they see the value of the product. A kilo of CBD isolate can sell for between $4,500 and $6,000 a kilo, depending on quality.
CHAMPS CBD Report: Is being a CBD-hemp farmer rewarding?
Craig Neal: For me, the greatest thing is seeing elderly people respond. My wife Celena makes CBD salves and they love them. They learn about CBD. They understand and realize how ridiculous it is that cannabis is illegal. There’s still that stigma that we’re still fighting. And every time we bust through one stigma, there seems to be another one waiting to be knocked down. It’s unfortunate, but I’m happy to be doing the fight.