Trevor’s hemp farm is located in Payson, Utah, and he is a grower-turned-farmer. He started growing in Colorado about ten years ago, working in large scale grows as well as on their marketing and advertising. Here he learned about the marijuana plant and how it’s grown, which has always interested him.
Trevor embraced the chance to move home and watch the industry take off in Utah. He started here last year in the pilot program, working on 3 acres of his father’s 5-acre property while he figured out the farming techniques. They are currently in the middle of their harvest.
Trevor was drawn to the Utah cannabis industry in general, and has an interest in the medical marijuana field as well, but felt navigating the rules and regulations of the industry would present a bigger challenge than getting his foot in the door with hemp farming.
Trevor says this program was the first year hemp was grown in Utah, so the Utah Department of Agriculture just called it a pilot program; it is now just referred to as the hemp industry.
There were about 240 licensed growers last year which included collectives, other associations, and a lot of lease farmers. Basically, everybody is joining up and trying to figure the hemp industry out together.
Trevor says that since last year he has got the rest of his family involved. The farm is licensed under the name Ungo Hemp CBD Farms. The name reflects a nickname that he had growing up.
After his first season, they found an 11-acre property a mile from his dad’s place and joined the two together, so now they are farming on 11 acres. They work hard, using specialized equipment, a lot of employees, and a lot of volunteers.
He points out that it’s a whole new animal growing hemp on a large scale. They experience a lot of curiosity from neighbors and the public, and they had to deal with some theft last year.
Last year their fencing was just basically pasture fencing, but they have since upgraded so they now have a 6-foot, no-climb fence with wood posts every 25 feet with T-posts in between, which was pretty expensive. Putting up the fence and greenhouses was their spring project. They’ve still had people cutting through the fence, so they’ve had to invest in cameras.
You have to be 18 or older, have a clean record (no drug charges in the last 10 years), pass an FBI background check, and go through the licensing process. The cost for the license fee was only $560, so not too crazy, and then you’ve got to build your business, your LLCs, etc.
Growing for your own use on a smaller scale is also subject to various rules. Trevor is more concerned about bigger laws that are threatening the hemp industry.
There are some proposed laws for a new cannabinoid, Delta 8, which might be added to the total TAC percent potency tests. One of their struggles as farmers is producing a crop that is not going to be over that 0.3% THC level. 0.3% THC is in fact very, very little, but there's just not a lot of perfect genetic strains out there that will ensure the crop stays below the required level.
This means it’s very easy to grow a ‘hot’ plant that is just marginally over that limit and then becomes illegal. In short, if Delta 8 is added to the total THC contents, it would most likely push a lot of hemp farmers over that 0.35% threshold.
This could mean that a lot of crops might have to be destroyed, or go to a specialized extraction facility where they could extract or dilute those THC levels. The hemp farmers are currently having meetings with the Department of Agriculture about these proposed laws, as well as other matters.
Once the plant is about halfway through its flowering period, the farmer calls the State to come and take samples. If those samples come back at 0.3%, then the State will approve the crop for harvesting with 30 days to harvest.
However, if the test result comes back at, for instance, 0.37% THC, they will say the crop failed. The farmer will then get hit with a violation, and will either have to be destroyed - or it has to go through that specialized extraction route. Trevor is not sure whether that is even allowed yet. In the previous year, a lot of crops had to be destroyed.
When you get your test results back, they give you another 30 days to grow the crop, during which time the THC levels are still going to be rising. By the time you harvest, they might well be over that 0.35% THC level. You might see 0.4, 0.5% THC, which is still okay because your crop was deemed legal, which makes this a weird gray area.
Trevor believes they need to raise the acceptable THC level to 1%. This won't get customers high, but it will mean farmers can have successful crops without being threatened by these very low 0.35% levels.
As regards the extraction process, they can take these crops and extract out the THC or separate them, or even come out with a CBD isolate.
The situation is very tough right now. Growing hemp is a brand-new industry and the 0.3% THC levels are very old school. Trevor believes that needs to be reassessed and set at something like 1% THC.
He also refers to the stigmas that still cling to the hemp plant. Hemp farmers are treated very differently. They can't even sell their own flower anywhere in Utah to anybody else aside from licensed extraction facilities or other farmers.
Trevor would love to create a pack of smokes that can compete with the tobacco industry and give people who don't want to smoke cigarettes another option. There are many things farmers could do with this plant, but their hands are tied.
The plan is to make his own products, but it isn’t happening at the moment. Currently, they have distillate products, and he intends their next product line to be more full-spectrum products. All four of their current products are made from the CBD isolate and don't contain any THC.
Trevor believes that hemp farmers are only allowed to consume their own flowers in their own homes. However, smokable flowers are brought into Utah every day legally through the Internet, and all the other States outside are selling it in Utah as well. It's really weird!
But as regards Utah hemp farmers, the Department of Agriculture will not give them a label, or approve a label for any kind of smokable or even vapeable flower. So Utah hemp farmers have to sell their flowers out of state to other people who are creating these smokable products, which are then sold back to Utah. It's a crazy situation.
It is a struggle for the hemp farmers in Utah. Their products have to get tested multiple times. All of their products come with a QR code that you can scan with your phone which takes you to the CFA, a certificate of analysis that tells you exactly what its tested levels are. Trevor thinks that the Sheriff's department just doesn’t want to see people smoking hemp flowers. There is just this stigma attached to it.
Trevor fully understands that the hemp industry should be regulated, particularly for stronger hemp products. But he would really like to be able to compete with the tobacco industry as hemp offers a ‘healthy smoke’ with medicinal potential and is safer than a cigarette. He would like to get people off cigarettes and smoking something that has some CBD benefits.
CBG is a really big cannabinoid that's very popular right now, and he believes that’s going to be a very successful route for especially Utah growers, as they're producing little to no THC. So CBG is definitely a great cannabinoid that they’re looking into.
That is one route they're actually looking into right now, but he believes they are able to transfer their hemp flower to the Utah dispensaries. Their current abundant crop was all grown from clones to ensure that they had high-quality female seedless plants. They’re hoping to hit the medical industry.
Despite the perception that the higher the THC strain the better the medicine, many people would benefit from lower THC strains. Trevor says he has even heard that the CBD actually negates the THC, so it could possibly reverse some of those psychoactive effects. Apparently, it doesn’t take away the high but does have a ‘buffering’ effect.
There are some awesome genetics and growers out there who are producing true medicinal strains. One of his favorite breeders is out in Colorado, Scott Reach with Rare Dankness. He grows some true medicinal strains like White Rhino, which is around 18% THC, but also at least 7% CBD.
It is hoped that there will be more of that in Utah over time, though that will probably take a combined effort by Trevor and other growers to achieve.
Though they haven't got into that too deeply yet, they have a lot of interest in doing fibers and textiles. Currently, the plant, (apart from the flower), referred to as biomass, is ground and milled in preparation for the extraction process to obtain the oils that they use in their vape cartridges, tinctures, and pain cream.
They are, in fact, currently learning how to utilize this biomass more effectively as they have a lot of plant material that has to be out of the ground by a certain date according to state regulations. But processing biomass requires specialized machinery and is very labor-intensive, so it is still a big learning curve for them.
The plants range from a foot high to even five, six, or seven feet tall. There are thousands of plants to deal with. Harvesting takes weeks and it’s a crazy time! Trevor would be happy for any volunteers to come and help, learning about the plants in the process.
So far they get volunteers via social media, especially Facebook. People send messages and Trevor has broadcast his phone number on there a few times. But they really have a lot of work to do so volunteers will be greatly appreciated!
They're trying to network as much as possible. They have some groups they’re working with locally that have connections in Oregon. Trevor’s been talking a lot with a gentleman named Scott with a home base out of Oregon and some potential flower buyer connections, and hopefully, they'll be able to work through their downline.
They will also be advertising on their own website to try and sell their smokable flower out of state. They will also be trying to lobby Utah to eventually allow them to do something with their flower.
Trevor says that they're all in, literally! They've all supported him, and he wouldn't be able to be doing this without his family. That's where the name Ung Family Farms comes from. He has his older brother and little sister and both of their spouses involved, along with his girlfriend, dad, and mom. They don’t have fancy equipment, so it’s been a hard grind every day.
It's been his dream. Trevor is passionate about hemp, and he’s been involved in the cannabis industry for about 15 years. He supports the medical and recreational use of cannabis and regards it as a safer option than tobacco and alcohol, with many benefits.
Trevor explains it's relaxing and calming without the psychoactive high. When it gets to the concentrated side with dabbable CBD, though he hasn't done it himself, he’s been told it feels like you're putting on a warm blanket.
He takes CBD when his muscles are sore and his body needs relaxation. He has not yet obtained a medical card. The suggestion is made that they should do an onsite clinic day at Trevor’s farm to inform people about the process of getting approved for a medical card.
Smokable flower is Trevor’s big dream, especially as a farmer. He would like to one day run a ‘you pick’ style farm, where he and all the other farmers open up their doors, and where people can come and pick their own favorite nugs, and they’ll sell it to their customers by the pound. From there people could use it in whatever way they want.
There are so many people who want to know more about the plant and experience it, and they want to do it in a legal way, in a safe environment. Most of Trevor’s volunteers are people who use the plant and are excited about it, and they've been awesome.
Amongst them is someone with cerebral palsy. Trevor believes that everybody should have access to this plant medically or recreationally.
Because of the conservative nature of Utah, Trevor got in trouble for growing a single plant when he was 22 years old, and almost faced felony charges. So he went to Denver to follow his dreams. He waited until he saw Utah was coming around and it was safe for him to come home.
Trevor says that they have four products available right now, but are going to be releasing more as soon as they get out of the field and can start doing some product development.
Trevor’s website is inmotioncbd.com, or find him on Facebook or Instagram: