A Dolores family found a new business in growing hemp, and their harvest also eases the owner’s multiple sclerosis symptoms.
Richard and Tyler Tibbits are in their third year growing hemp to produce flowers with a high concentration of cannabidiols, or CBD, which are sold for medicinal uses.
Hemp is a variety of cannabis sativa that does not contain the psychoactive THC chemical of its cousin marijuana. It is grown for its industrial and medical properties and is regulated by Colorado Department of Agriculture.
The Tibbitses recently formed RLT Quest LLC and obtained state permits to grow hemp on irrigated land south of McPhee Reservoir.
This year, they produced 3,500 hemp plants, up from 1,900 last year. The state conducts tests to ensure the hemp plants don’t exceed 0.3% THC.
At first, the Tibbitses were selling harvested hemp biomass to a company that extracts the CBD. But they switched to selling smokable CBD flower because the price is better.
Smokable CBD flower sells for between $150 and $250 per pound, Richard Tibbits said. By comparison, the biomass was selling for $55 to $68 per pound, and the price has dropped further.
“Smokable flower is a boutique market that requires more labor, but with a good payout. There is a lot of tending and trimming so they produce a lot of flower,” Tibbits said.
On their farm, rows of hemp plants are given room to grow outward and are fed with drip irrigation. The Tibbitses harvest between 2 and 3 pounds of flower per plant. They planted strains Kiva Rock, Charry Abacus and Double Dutch, among others.
Richard Tibbits suffers from multiple sclerosis, a condition that damages cells in the central nervous system.
For years, he’d been enduring injections every other day of the medication Betaseron to reduce symptoms of fatigue, headaches, pain, muscle stiffness and muscle spasms. Prescription painkillers were needed at times also.
Frustrated with costs and side effects of both medications, he began taking pills of ground-up CBD flowers harvested from his hemp farm.
“It’s been working better than the pharmaceutical injections,” he said. “No more shots is great. I used to have track marks on my body from all the needles.”
Taking CBD has been effective at reducing pain, he said, and does not have the addictive qualities or side effects of opioids.
“I’ve been feeling better since taking CBD for my MS,” Tibbits said.
Tyler Tibbits used to own a hot rod shop, but decided to get into the burgeoning hemp industry with his dad to get established early.
The team has a knack for growing large, flowering bushes of hemp, and takes pride in studying and being informed about the industry.
“Now, we are expanding into the consulting side of the business to help new hemp farmers get started with the proper soils, strains, irrigation and operations so they can be successful,” Tyler Tibbits said.
According to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, 29 permits have been issued to grow hemp in Montezuma County, three in Dolores County and 40 in La Plata County.