HOBGOOD — Since February of 2021, Hobgood Hemp has cultivated the use of industrial hemp to provide an alternative to ailments.
The business officially formed on paper in December of 2020, but 18 months ago was an idea and a dream, said owners Ron Elkins and his father-in-law, David Mayer.
“Then sometime last summer is when we started to kind of decide to do it and make plans and make connections with other businesses that will help us get there,” Elkins said.
The brick-and-mortar store of the business sits at 106 N. Pine St. in the small town that is home to nearly 300 residents, the Cotton Festival, and an acre of hemp from David Mayer Farms. Inside, the smell of the processed plant permeates through the store, where the end products of CBD tinctures and topical are displayed with various other products.
Elkins said the type of hemp the business grows and processes is called industrial hemp, which is different from marijuana as it has a low THC, the chemical that produces the high effect, and high in CBD (cannabidiol), which carries the benefits without the high.
“We’re targeting high CBD levels, which is kind of the medically beneficial component,” he said.
Elkins said the benefits of CDB could help with chronic pain, anxiety, mood-related disorders, anger management and sleeping. He also mentioned the use of Epidiolex, which is the only approved pharmaceutical CBD product that helps treat childhood epilepsy.
But CBD use also had benefits elsewhere as his father-in-law, Mayer, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 12 years ago.
Over the years, Mayer said the disease progressively worsened but signed up when the state began a pilot program for farmers to raise hemp for CDB.
“We were number 36 to get a license in the state,” he said. “We were one of the first ones to raise it in the state.”
That was when CDB helped better his health by helping him to sleep, Mayer said.
“It helped me sleep at night. Parkinson’s doesn’t allow you to sleep good at night,” he said. “This CBD oil helps you sleep and it helped me sleep at night.”
In addition to taking the CBD, 66-year-old Mayer said he was able to cut back on his medication for the disease.
“Actually, it’s more efficient with the medicines now because I combine the two,” he said. “But I can walk better, I can function. I’m going stronger and better than I have for 12 years.”
Though the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of the product, it is regulated by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Elkins said.
“We believe that the FDA is going to probably put it through its paces and processes,” he said. “It needs to be, because it needs to have quality control, and needs to make sure it is what the products are being claimed are in it are actually in it and is tested well. So, we take it through a phase, but not everybody does that. There’s a lot of stuff out there that may be suspect because of lack of regulation.”
Mayer said his doctors did not mention or recommend using CBD for his Parkinson’s disease at the time until he told them he started using it and how it helped him function.
“They said, ‘Well, if it helps you, then go ahead and use it,’ ” he said.
David’s wife, Rhonda Mayer, who is the store manager, said they wanted to bring something to Hobgood since many people did not want to buy products online. If the business had an actual store, then people would be more open to talking with people who understand the product and feel more comfortable.
“That was kind of our process of thinking,” she said. “So, let’s put some stuff that people would like to see.”
While the store offers CBD products, Rhonda said it also offers local honey, beef jerky, jams, jellies, produce, ice cream, drinks, arts and crafts.
“What we try to do is build up the local market,” she said. “There have been a lot of people that have come in that prefer not to go to the pharmacy or online.”
Elkins said the CBD products are simple to use, such as the tincture that can be dripped under the tongue for absorption.
“Through the stomach, you lose some of the potency of it because your digestive system takes some of it out,” he said. “But there’s lots of ways to take it, and we want to make it available to anybody that it’s appropriate for.
But the business is test running a third item which are edible gummies with CDB, Elkins said.
One question lingers as to how Hobgood Hemp would benefit the Town of Hobgood.
Elkins said the biggest issue they found with hemp was not about growing it, but selling it had its obstacles. He said the market needed to be developed and believed hemp could replace the historically tobacco-dependent communities.
“The marketplace is growing rapidly,” Elkins said. “Being that we’re going to continue to be an agricultural community if we can help develop the marketplace for CBD. We can have places where these farmers can sell their hemp and have it processed and get products like ours.”
The business also provides jobs, which has already employed two part-time employees and a contract salesperson, Elkins said. In addition to the economic impact, he said people in the community use their products for arthritic pain and to sleep better.
“There’s so much use of things like Xanax and things in our communities now, including opioid drugs,” Elkins said. “We believe that CBD can help people avoid getting on that or maybe have an alternative to a true pharmaceutical and have a natural remedy.”
He added the business also provides a percentage of every sale of Hobgood Hemp products to support the nonprofit Kent’s Playground that serves exceptional children and adults by providing “exceptional agricultural experiences.”
David said pharmaceutical companies kind of keep a lid on the positive benefits of CDB, but the Hobgood Hemp business is going to continue making it, so everybody knows about it.
“It might not help everybody, but it will help the majority of people,” he said.
Elkins said the business has grown as many as 15 acres in the past and recently planted another acre.
“We’ve got enough to where we don’t have to grow a tremendous quantity at this moment,” he said. “As our demand increases, we can easily scale back up to as many acres as we want to.”
On a final note, Elkins said he was hesitant at first to get into the business until his father-in-law pressured him. Not having a personal need for it, he said he knew it was a good product and saw the benefits it yielded as time went on.
“The majority of folks that use it they come back and they tell us, ‘Wow, it’s a life-changer for me,’ ” Elkins said. “I just continue to get encouraged by seeing it change people’s lives and their health and prolong their life but also give them a better quality.”
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