Three Appalachia natives started a business with the goal of revitalizing the region and carrying on the Eastern Kentucky way of life with hemp.
AppalachiCanna was started in November 2019 by Eddie Martin, Arch Johnson and Max Hammond with the goal of helping the farmers of Eastern Kentucky keep their hillside farms. As sixth generation famers, they plan to use their local knowledge to introduce hemp as a cash crop in the region.
“It’s a personal thing for me, Max and Eddie. It’s more of a calling almost to help these farmers because a lot of them are getting older and they just kinda lost their way,” said Johnson, an MSU graduate. “This gives them some hope in a way to renew and reinvigorate the Eastern Kentucky culture.”
AppalachiCanna is a hemp production company that uses their hemp along with wild American ginseng to produce CBD oil. They feel hemp can be the crop to replace tobacco financially.
“It’s really exciting for farmers because for the first time in my lifetime we’ve got something that can replace tobacco,” said Johnson. “It has to be something that we can grow a couple acres of and take care of it. Otherwise we are gonna lose a whole way of life. You’re gonna lose our heritage.”
Martin and Johnson have both been involved in the tobacco business for years and witnessed the fall of it in Eastern Kentucky.
However, they feel hemp can be beneficial to the region in other ways as well.
“It is our vision that someday we will have irrefutable evidence that this [CBD] does have a positive effect of getting people off opioids,” said Hammond, an MSU alumni. “We want to move Eastern Kentucky away from being perceived center of drug addiction to the center for drug treatment and redemption.”
This is a topic that lays close to their hearts as both Johnson and Hammond’s families have been affected by addiction.
They are currently working to begin some studies of their own on the topic.
Despite their company still being in its infancy, they have high hopes for it and the region they call home.
“I want us to be a beacon to the rest of the world and Appalachia,” said Hammond. “We are just as good as anybody here. This is a way we can tell a story about Appalachia.”