SUNY Sullivan and The Center for Discovery have begun a research partnership with Colorado-based CW Hemp to study the cultivation of biodynamic, organic industrial hemp, a plant that has the potential to provide important medicinal benefits.

The Center for Discovery, an internationally recognized Center of Excellence serving individuals with complex disabilities at multiple locations in Sullivan County, and SUNY Sullivan, has begun to raise “Charlotte’s Web” hemp plants on The Center’s certified organic and biodynamic Thanksgiving Farm in Hurleyville. This work is being conducted through an agricultural license granted to SUNY Sullivan in March under the New York State Industrial Hemp Pilot Program.  Industrial Hemp is a non-psychoactive cannabis plant that has shown promise in its effectiveness with seizures. Farmers from The Center will study the quality of hemp plants grown according to biodynamic practices, while researchers and students from SUNY Sullivan will study the content and quality of cannabidiol (CBD) and other key properties of the plant. 

CW Hemp, owned and operated by the Stanley Brothers, has been selling hemp extract oil as a health and dietary supplement since 2014. The company name is derived from “Charlotte’s Web”, a variety of hemp bred by the Stanley Brothers in 2011. The plant is named for Charlotte Figi, a young girl who saw her epileptic seizures reduced from 300 plus per week to just a few per month after she started using the Stanley Brothers’ hemp extract.

SUNY Sullivan students will have an unprecedented opportunity to engage in cutting-edge agricultural and medical research.

The Center for Discovery’s Thanksgiving Farm, established in 1995, produces more than 60 types of vegetables, flowers and herbs, and is home to pasture-raised egg-laying hens, beef cattle, pigs and sheep. Thanksgiving Farm feeds all The Center’s residents as well as many of its 1,500-member staff, and brings healthy food into the community through its 300-member Community Supported Agriculture program.

At The Center for Discovery, “Food is medicine” is a motto that informs the organization’s groundbreaking approach to food. Nutrient-dense, whole foods grown biodynamically on a 150-acre farm provide health, healing and quality of life to The Center’s residents and the larger community in a way that is also good for the land. The Center will use its expertise to raise hemp in the same way, so that it may be further studied to see what medicinal benefits it may have for individuals with complex disabilities and medical frailties. This state-approved hemp study partnership will set a framework for continued research into the hemp plant and CBD, which The Center hopes will one day make a positive impact on the medical field. This research project does not include administering cannabidiol to any residents at The Center.