"My whole life lately seems to be about hemp," says Lily Morgan. And for good reason: The founder of Colorado-based skin care company Lily Farm Fresh Skin Care has owned and operated eighty acres of farmland to supply her own production in Keenesburg, Colorado, for over thirty years, Now nearly 90 percent of it is devoted to hemp.
Morgan, who also owns an additional 170-plus acres spread throughout the state, has been making cleansers, moisturizers, toners, lip balms and other products for her certified organic skin care line since 1986. But she's recently shifted, jumping on the CBD bandwagon and growing hemp for her new CBD-infused line of therapeutic lotions.
A relatively new addition to the skin care industry, CBD lotions, balms and patches are used to alleviate muscle, joint and nerve pain, as well as inflammation; Morgan thinks those products can also treat redness, puffiness and irritation. The Lily Farm team is currently finalizing the formula for a CBD cream that targets joint and muscle pain, and plans to eventually sell an expanded line of CBD-infused skin care — hopefully in Natural Grocers, which already carries Lily Farm non-CBD products.
"Why not?," she asks. "I mean, we already have the lab, and I'm going to have all the hemp I could want."
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Morgan didn't dive into the hemp trend immediately. After visiting a hemp symposium and offering her farm as a cultivation site for experienced hemp farmers, Morgan partnered with a hemp grower who had the equipment and expertise to cover that much ground. Without her partner, whom she declines to name, she would not have been able to grow more than a few acres of hemp for personal use, she says. But with her partner's equipment, originally made to harvest tobacco but retrofitted to tackle hemp, Morgan was able to mass-produce hemp for CBD products that she had already been concocting for personal use.
Despite being a seventh-generation farmer and having a grandfather who also grew hemp, Morgan never thought she'd be participating in the CBD craze. She once tried incorporating store-bought hemp oil in her products, but found that it quickly made them go rancid. In the past, friends had suggested that she start growing marijuana or hemp\, but because both were still federally illegal, she felt it wasn't worth the trouble.
But after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp farming on the federal level, Morgan rented out one of her other farm properties to hemp growers. Upon mentioning that she had trouble sleeping to her new tenants, they offered her a sample of CBD tincture. Initially, she was hesitant, insisting she didn't want to take anything that would make her feel high. After the growers explained that CBD isn't intoxicating but might improve her sleeping, she decided to try it.
"I hadn't slept that well in, like, 45 years. So I took it, and I put it in some of my creams, just for me. And I started using it for neck stress and shoulder pain, and I saw a big change," Morgan says. "And then I started reading everything, testing formulations and making them for myself."
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Now Morgan is using her story to convince others to give CBD a chance. She's even planning a hemp festival this fall on her Keenesburg farm to promote industry networking and hemp education.
Morgan sees the negative stigma around the cannabis plant as the greatest obstacle to normalizing hemp and CBD use. "A lot of people my age don't want to go to dispensaries. I don't," she explains. "So I think a lot of people my age will be really slow to try it. I was pretty darn slow. I was not enthusiastic about [CBD] until I tried it."
Now she's changed her tune, and believes others will follow.
"People are saying that it is going to boom and then bust, but I don't think so. The hemp farming is going to be exponential, but so is the demand — because everybody is talking about it, people that you wouldn't suspect," Morgan says. "But it still does have that affiliation with its cousin, and a lot of people just don't want anything to do with that. But it's not marijuana; you can't get high off of it. That's fundamental to me."