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When one enters the processing facility for Shenandoah Valley Hemp (SVH) in Elkton, Virginia, the smell of cannabis is overwhelming. But, this isn’t your frat boy’s weed. At SVH, the Johnson siblings started from the ground up, growing one of the very first hemp facilities in Virginia. They provide a myriad of hemp-related services, including selling seeds and giving growing tips to hemp farmers in the Valley or pursuing their medical marijuana license. 

Many know them from their booth at the Harrisonburg farmers market where, among the Mennonite farmers who sell produce, Talbot Johnson has an intriguing display of smokable Cannabidiol (CBD) flower. The Johnsons are most prominently known for their CBD product line called Pure Shenandoah. They’re one of the first of their kind finishing the full process — from seed to stem to grandma’s CBD back lotion.

The story begins in Oregon when Jacob Johnson left his hometown in Harrisonburg. Then came the discovery of CBD. As publicity of CBD — or, as Jacob calls it, “diet weed” — continues to rise, Jacob decided to bring the business over to the East Coast, back to his family’s farm in the Shenandoah Valley. He’s currently the lead grower, with a wealth of knowledge covering growing strategies to extraction methods.

At first, the Johnson Siblings’ parents and older relatives were wary of the introduction of CBD into their lives. Cannabis has an immense stigma attached to it from the 1936 propaganda film, “Reefer Madness,” to current state and federal regulations surrounding the product’s use. Its use, medical or otherwise, isn’t often looked kindly upon by older generations. Today, Jacob said their parents and other relatives, their grandfather among them, are huge fans of their CBD products.

Part of what makes SVH a strong starting company, the brothers said, is their belief in transparency. Everything they do requires strict regulation, so they don’t try to hide any of their processes, all which are above ground. One of their central goals, they said, is to educate the public. Abner Johnson, the managing director, said he’s excited to “[bring] something that’s been in the dark for so long, ultimately now to the brightest light possible.” 

The brothers recounted a city meeting where a councilwoman was hesitant to accept their business into the town, saying she was specifically worried about children getting their hands on cannabis products. Abner recalled calling her to the side after the meeting and talking with her about the benefits of the product. Their goal isn’t to change anyone’s mind about CBD or force anyone to use the products, they said, but simply to educate the customers they serve and the community they impact. The brotherhood of the hemp growers is strong, and they expressed their excitement to bring their products into the world. 

“Cannabis is coming, you know,” Abner said. “Some call it marijuana — it’s coming.”

Contact Gannon La Croix at breezevideo1@gmail.com.