Ohio cannabis company, Ohio-grown hemp: Motive CBD strives to lead Ohio market
Thousands of green plants covered in narrow, saw-toothed leaves grow in long rows along 6 acres on a rural Ohio farm. Row after row, the hemp plants stretch upward, each about four feet tall on this Centerville land.
Just a year ago, the farm would have been illegal, but today it’s a critical element of Kelly Hondros and Corey Poches, co-founders of Motive CBD, a locally grown and processed CBD product line.
They launched the Motive CBD brand, first outsourcing hemp before it was legal to grow in Ohio. A law passed in 2019 made growing hemp in Ohio legal.
The Hondros family behind the Westerville-based business and nursing colleges long has been in the farming business. Hondros’ Greek ancestors harvested grapes for wine, and more recent generations have grown two Midwestern juggernaut crops, corn and soybeans.
Then, in 2018, Hondros’ parents dove into the medical marijuana business. “[Growing hemp] was a natural entrepreneurial step for us,” says Hondros, who married Poches in 2018. “We had organic land to grow on and we had a lot of interest in this new crop.”
Now they can support the Motive line, seed to sale. “Growing our own hemp means that we are producing CDB that goes into our products,” says Poches.
One of the fastest growing plants, hemp has been spun into fibers for centuries. Other uses have included biodegradable plastics, insulation, biofuel and animal feed.
But producing hemp, the couple is learning, takes a bit of patience.
Hondros, who attended Ohio State University and then earned her law degree at Capital University Law School, grew up around farming but never did the farming herself. That was for the older generation.
“Because the plant hasn’t been grown in so long within the state of Ohio, we’re discovering new things all the time,” Hondros says. “How it reacts to the soil, what we can and can't use,” she added. “It’s really cool, because the plant will tell you what is wrong with it. But there could be 10 different reasons for yellowing on the inner canopy, or why the leaves are curling.”
The Ohio Department of Agriculture has also helped them with growing tips, and they’ve turned to industry leaders. “We’ve traveled around the world,” says Poches. “The industry is very arms-wide-open and welcoming and big on sharing information.”
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound derived from hemp, with only trace (less than 0.3%) tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the marijuana compound with psychoactive effects. “The plants look the same and smell the same, but it’s not the same chemical makeup,” Hondros says.
Especially because of the negative connotations and stigma that CBD produces, transparency is a key component of the business.
“We are growing the plants, so we're able to showcase a certificate of analysis that really sells a couple of big things—lack of herbicides and pesticides and other residual solvents and metals that people don't want to put in the body,” Poches says. “We want to make sure that none of that comes through products.”
Hemp-derived CBD products can be applied to the skin or eaten. Motive CBD products include tinctures, mints, infused toothpicks, capsules and creams. A 30-count bottle of CBD fruit chews sells for $49.99.
The products are known to help ease anxiety, among other potential health benefits. “I’m go, go, go,” Poches says. “I wake up at 6 a.m. and am sending my first email by 6:01. The fruit has helped me to be more even-keel and less anxious throughout the day.” After a workout, he also uses the sports cream. “It’s by far our most popular product,” he says.
Retailers include outdoor shops and running stores, golf pro shops, salons and spas, including online retailer Zulily. Motive CBD also has a storefront off Sunbury Road in Westerville, where employees can share information and answer customer questions.
Hemp-derived CBD products are expected to grow nearly 30 percent by 2022. In 2018, they made up a $390 million market. That number is expected to reach $1.3 billion by 2022, according to the Hemp Business Journal.
Pet products are another revenue stream, namely dog treats. Proponents say CBD’s anti-inflammatory elements can be used to address some animal maladies, including anxiety, certain skin conditions, and seizures.
The couple’s chocolate lab, Matey, is also part of the family business. “It’s a 6-acre farm, so she covers miles of walking back and forth,” Hondros says. “She loves the dog treats. She’s so active, and it helps with her inflammation and helps her recover.”
Virginia Brown is a freelance writer.
170 N. Sunbury Road, Westerville 43081
Business: Seed-to-sale hemp-derived CBD retailer
Co-founders: Kelly Hondros, Corey Poches
Revenue: Would not disclose