reefer gladness

One devastating injury — a broken back — ultimately changed the course of Todd Young’s life. Looking back, he can now say it was much for the better.

His story starts in Waterloo, where the 51-year-old graduated from high school in 1986 and then headed to college in Potsdam. After college he gravitated to the West Coast, specifically the Seattle area. At the time, the city was the cultural, musical and artistic hotbed of the United States, with bands such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden leading the grunge movement.

Young started a career in glassblowing that provided him a decent living up until 12 years ago.

He was working in Malibu, Calif., and doing a commissioned piece for actor/comedian Adam Sandler when Young broke his back trying to prevent a large item from falling. The injury led to constant pain, and like so many suffering from chronic pain, he ingested his fair share of opioids to seek relief. Young married and moved to Boulder, Colo., but the pain never fully ceased.

The couple has two kids. At age 2½, their son began having seizures — sometimes hundreds a day. No one knows their cause, and like any parent who wants their kids to be healthy and happy, Young looked into alternative methods to help him. The solution turned out to be cannabidiol, or CBD oil, which proved amazingly beneficial for both father and son. It got Young off opioids and his son, now 11, saw fantastic results as the number of daily seizures was reduced dramatically.

Young’s mission in life changed dramatically too. His new focus: developing his own clean, organic, pesticide-free CBD oil for medicinal use in pediatrics.

Hemp-derived CBD oil is made from high-CBD, low-THC hemp. It is not to be confused with medical marijuana products, which are usually made from plants with high concentrations of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Cannabidiol is just one of over 80 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. THC is present only in trace amounts, while CBD dominates the plant’s makeup. This allows users to experience the balancing effects of CBD, without the psychoactive “high” of THC.

Hemp plants for CBD oil must have a THC content of 0.3 percent or less.

To fulfill his mission, Young decided to create his own strain of hemp. It started with a high-quality marijuana plant that was continually bred, reducing the THC each time until it met the qualities he needed for hemp. It involved some knowledge of genetics, much like area grape growers use to create their different wines.

His hemp is solely for oil and medicinal purposes. It is not industrial hemp for clothing or other products.

On a particular trip back to this area where family still lives, he came across a farm in Seneca County that was for sale and seemed to fit his needs. Even though he still lives in Colorado, he regularly commutes back here to run the business, one that has several investors.

I have chosen not to disclose its location. There is plenty of security to prevent theft, but one can never be too cautious. For example, it was reported recently that a hemp farm in Wayne County, which had drawn some publicity — interestingly, the owner’s name is Weed — had plants pilfered from its fields, with the theft costing thousands of dollars.

It’s not hard to imagine such a scenario since the plant, or at least the ones I saw at Young’s farm Sunday, smell and look just like marijuana plants.

This year Young harvested over 100 acres of plants. The inset shows him looking over plants harvested Sunday, all from seeds he developed and individually planted like cabbage plants. Next year he hopes to increase the planting to 1,000 acres.

Because of this year’s unusual weather patterns, Young likes to point out how hearty and versatile his plants are. He planted an estimated 600,000 seedlings. At harvesting, some had grown upwards of 6-10 feet tall.

After harvesting, the plants are hung and dried for a week to 10 days (see accompanying photo). Then, a machine is used to separate the seeds. The remaining crushed plant material is trucked out of state to a processing plant that will produce the oil and bottle it.

Sunday, over a dozen staff members were working in some capacity. He also has volunteers who believe in his mission and help out.

In addition, Young has developed a CBD oil topical roll-on treatment. Take the time to look at the video that accompanies this column. It shows a client of Young’s who is in full seizure mode. After applying the roll-on oil, the seizure stops in about 10 seconds.

Young plans to eventually open a retail shop in the area. He also is interested in assisting other farmers in the area who might want to get into the hemp crop business. Email him at blackbirdapothecaryfarm@gmail.com.

He doesn’t want to think of what his life might have been like if he had continued down the path involving opioid use, but now all is good. Young has a purpose that is positively contributing to society. It’s been an interesting journey that looks like it is ending up on the good side of things.

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