Hemp oil company sees big opportunity in Pueblo operation
BY CHRIS WOODKA The Pueblo Chieftain Published: July 9, 2016; Last modified: July 10, 2016 08:41AM
Clint Pyatt is a third-generation farmer from Oklahoma who has traveled the world promoting the hemp industry.
So it’s no coincidence that the 45-year-old Marine Corps veteran is trying to shepherd hemp into Pueblo County.
“Hemp has the opportunity to put Pueblo on the map,” Pyatt said during a tour of the company’s growing operation east of Pueblo on a former sod farm. “There’s so much that can be done. I’ve lived it. I know what it can do.”
Pyatt is the chief operating officer of Notis Global, a Los Angeles company that is working to expand the legal hemp and CBD oil industries. Hemp oil products, unlike medical marijuana, do not contain THC but have cannabidiol, or CBD, which some claim alleviates pain and has healing powers.
“Hemp oil is more mainstream and helps people but doesn’t have the effect that marijuana does,” Pyatt said. “It can help little children and the elderly without getting them high.”
Pyatt has no doubt that CBD products are lifesavers.
Other drugs weren’t working well for him in his battle with leukemia, so he started using medical marijuana in 2010. He still works with medical marijuana in other places, but the Colorado operation is just hemp. Pyatt works with businesses in the Western United States, the Czech Republic and Israel.
Notis Global has invested millions in restoring the greenhouses at the former sod farm that had been damaged in a hail storm about five years ago. It also bought 320 acres of farmland and will plant some kenaf — a plant similar to hemp with many of the same uses — outside this year. The company recently purchased another 115 acres.
The greenhouses are distinctive for their pink and purple glow — from proprietary LED lights inside — on many nights and can be plainly seen from U.S. 50 east of the airport. At night it looks like a disco, and security guards have stopped curious intruders to explain this is hemp, not marijuana.
“You could smoke all you wanted and you wouldn’t get high,” Pyatt said. “I have the greenhouses fenced because I don’t want them damaged.”
Inside, there are about 4,200 hemp plants, all female raised from clones, on 36,000 square feet of space. Notis Global plans to expand to 120,000 square feet at the site and hopes to add processing plants at other places in Pueblo County. That could add jobs.
While hemp is one of the “clusters” the Pueblo Economic Development Corp. is focusing on, Notis Global, a publicly traded company, has used its own capital to finance its Pueblo County operation so far.
“We’re looking to invest more millions of dollars, to expand and do it the right way,” Pyatt said. “We like to say we’re the mature people in the industry.”
Pyatt also has been working with area farmers who are interested in growing hemp. One of the biggest misunderstandings is the amount of water hemp uses.
“I’ve grown peanuts, cotton, alfalfa, corn, wheat . . . the signature of water is far less for hemp,” Pyatt said.
Notis Global is working with its Israeli partners in researching strains that do well in arid climates. The company also is finding markets for the fiber left behind after the oil is pressed from plants.
“I like Pueblo, and I like to see jobs created,” he said. “We can do research, development and testing here and keep those millions of dollars in the community.”