Local farmer looks to industrial hemp as NC’s next possible cash crop


The cannabis Gator Williams grows has the same benefits as pot but without the high.


He said, “It’s the same plant it just doesn’t produce the same amount of THC.”


Gator has been a tobacco farmer his whole life but he says that industry is slowly going downhill so he took a new direction, growing industrial hemp which is a legal form of cannabis.


He’s got 60,000 plants on his Lenoir County farm.  


They take the oils from the plant and use them for medical purposes.


Gator says they can help things like diabetes, ADHD, and even pain.


And for him, he has a personal connection.


A back injury a few years ago left him heavily dependent on prescription pain killers.


He said, “I knew I had to make a change.”


So he did and he says, he wants to help others.


“One thing that drove me to this industry,” Gator said, “not only the passion to grow the plant and help people medically but to help the local farmers have something profitable again.”


Gator says they don’t waste any part of the plant, what isn’t used for medical reasons is processed into all kinds of things including paper or clothes.


“The declaration of independence was written on hemp paper,” He said, “so we aren’t reinventing the wheel we are just reestablishing the wheel.”


And as leaders on Capitol Hill look to pass the farm bill, Gator says if it passes, farmers will have a clear idea of what they can and can’t do with this plant — and they will have a better chance to succeed.


Which for his family would mean everything.


“I don’t even know how to put it, it’s just an honor to be involved in this industry.”


Gator says one problem he has is people trying to steal the product, if you are caught it is a felony and police treat it as if its actual marijuana.

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