THORNBURY >> Weed guy, pot guy, there isn’t a marijuana dealer reference Matt Pruette hasn’t heard since he opened a hemp farm.
It goes with the territory when you’re the first Delaware County businessman to legally grow, process and sell cannabidiol (CBD) since 1937, as Pruette proudly claims at Microgrown Farm in Thornton.
“I’m the first hometown CBD connection in Delco,” Pruette said Friday. “Nobody’s doing that, and I know that because I can see who’s permitted on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture website.”
Before you give Pruette a far out, understand the difference between CBD and marijuana. While both plants are in the cannabis family and are almost impossible to differentiate by look or smell, CBD has .3 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive agent, and marijuana has much higher levels up to 30 percent.
CBD has virtually no side effects largely because of the minute THC.
In the weed world, the ever-popular Hawaiian blend has a 20 percent THC kick, Maui Wowie 18 percent and Panama Red, of Cheech and Chong lore up to 16 percent THC according to Hytivia.com. Any of that smoke would fast forward the partiers into a “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” fantasy world.
Pruette has thoroughly researched CBD, from the production process to the benefits it offers users. The game changed for the longtime owner of Benson Outdoor Power Equipment in Chichester with the 2018 Farm Bill that included hemp legalization legislation. It blew up the Marihuana Tax Act banning production of hemp in 1937 with ridiculous taxes. It opened the door for Pruette and others who wanted to grow hemp.
“I own a lawnmower shop, I’ve done it for 35 years and I’m like, enough – I want to do something different,” Pruette said. “This became legal in 2018. CBD has exploded in popularity. Nobody has heard about it around here. It’s kind of a West Coast thing. So, I said, ‘Hey, here’s an opportunity.’”
Pruette got a state permit to grow hemp a couple of years ago, planted the crop behind his house in Thornton and harvested the hemp oil. Then he set up a website and began selling products online (www.microgrownfarm.com). The full line of Microgrown merchandise also is available at the Rebel Indian Smoke Shop in Brookhaven, per a store spokesman who hinted that an event was on the way.
You can vape CBD, smoke it, put it under your tongue and eat it to reap the benefits. Webmd.com says CBD is used to treat anxiety, pain, a muscle disorder called dystonia, Parkinson disease, Crohn disease, insomnia and several other conditions.
Pruette said he and his wife take CBD, and that he’s read of it being used to treat osteoporosis, lyme disease, MS and several other maladies.
“All kinds of people are buying it, from young landscapers to senior citizens,” Pruette said. “It helps with pain, inflammation, a lot of things.”
Pruette doesn’t have pro sports clients – yet. He knows that former Flyer Riley Cote has been active in hemp causes. Pruette has read that doctors have suggested football concussion protocol include administering CBD to players who exit with suspected head trauma.
The Pruette hemp plot in Delaware County is unlike the extensive corn fields that dot the countryside, their stalks reaching out to the sky. The crop looks like a finely manicured yet massive vegetable garden. Up close you can see buds in a few of the plants beginning to form.
Pruette personally tends to the plants to insure all-natural quality.
Asked what the ideal growing conditions were, Pruette laughed.
“It’s been called a weed for a long time for a reason,” he said.
“It’s a very forgiving plant. It can be grown everywhere.”
When it comes to protecting the product, Pruette said he was worried at first about security, but not so much now. The garden cameras can wait.
“I was going to have big signs saying, ‘Not Marijuana’ and all that,” Pruette said. “I just let it go. The deer don’t eat it. People don’t bother it. I haven’t had any problems – yet.”
Pruette feels he’s just scratched the surface of his new relationship with hemp. The partnership with the smoke shop and the prospect of growing online sales are encouraging. So, too, is the prospect of providing a product for the greater good of his fellow man.
“CBD is medicinal,” Pruette said. “It’s not psychoactive. It does not get you high. You could smoke that whole field and you wouldn’t get high.”
Pruette took a breath before offering more evidence that hemp was good.
“If there was only one plant on the face of the earth, and it was the hemp plant, you could survive,” Pruette said. “It’s got medicine. You can wear it. You can make rope out of it. You can take the seeds, crush them and make bio-fuel out of it. We could have used hemp oil instead of gasoline. It burns super clean. You can make hemp-crete out of it, which is concrete. Hemp-crete breathes whereas concrete does not.”
For now, Pruette is concentrating on the oil. Delco Hemp, he feels, is here to stay.