Photo courtesy of Cornbread Hemp

Learn | 02.08.2022

Kentucky Kush: A Short Story Of Cornbread (And The Mafia That Preceded It)

Meet the Kentucky-based brand that's making strides in the cannabis industry.

If you take an old globe and look for the 37th parallel, you’ll notice that on one side of the world it crosses through the heart of Asia, cutting right through the Hindu Kush mountain range north of the Earth’s equatorial plane.

This region is famous for being the home of some of the world’s best Indica landrace cannabis, having grown on this rugged terrain for thousands of years. 

Now, if you spin the globe—while keeping your finger on the same circle of latitude—you’ll end up in Kentucky, USA.

Just like its antipode, this region is blessed with one of the best light cycles to grow cannabis, with the added value that, unlike its dry counterpart on the other side of the planet, the Bluegrass state’s terroir is packed full of nutrients, courtesy of a limestone rock bed and freshwater reserves that cover the land. 

There’s a reason why Kentucky produces the best bourbon in the world: the Bluegrass basin, a prehistoric ocean bed, is home to millions of years of decomposed living material that created a healthy microbiome that filters water and provides an abundance of nutrients to the soil.

Photo courtesy of Cornbread Hemp

“The same goes for cannabis”, says Jim Higdon, one of the co-founders at Cornbread Hemp. Jim left his career as a journalist and became a CBD entrepreneur after the 2018 Hemp Farm Bill allowed hemp derivatives to be sold across the United States.

“When it comes to producing the highest quality CBD oil, we source our hemp only from our home state of Kentucky—and that means USDA organic certified hemp flowers grown by local farmers.” 

Jim sits in his office in Louisville in the headquarters of the company he built from the ground up with his cousin, Eric Zipperle, the other half responsible for making Cornbread Hemp the #1 rated CBD company in the region thanks to their good-looking and great-tasting products, including gummies, oil, and easy-to-take capsules.

Photo courtesy of Cornbread Hemp

“Our mission is to improve your quality of life,” continues Jim over our call, sharing his passion for the plant in an accent that reminds us of the famed Bluegrass guitarist, Doc Watson.

“We provide the highest quality full spectrum CBD products, with the most THC allowed by law—Cornbread is the only brand in America to offer full spectrum, Flower-Only, USDA Organic CBD products with up to 2 mg of Delta 9 THC per serving.”


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Jim and Eric are the modern versions of Kentucky’s hemp farming community that started in 1775, a story recounted in Jim’s book, The Cornbread Mafia, a non-fiction tale showcasing the story of the biggest domestic marijuana syndicate in American history, set in Jim’s hometown in Kentucky. 

Facing the same sort of prohibition that Kentucky moonshiners faced in the 1920s and 30s, Kentucky cannabis farmers have been punished by the federal government for decades for being good at what they did.

By 1989, more than 70 cultivators from Kentucky had been arrested on 30 farms in 10 states, with approximately 200 tons of cannabis.

Photo courtesy of Cornbread Hemp

Luckily for everyone, laws have changed. Today, Cornbread Hemp — named in homage to the people who braved these unjust laws as the “Cornbread Mafia” — is a fully legal brand offering CBD-dominant hemp products with as much Delta 9 THC as federal law allows.

Cornbread Hemp products are available in more than 100 health food stores and pharmacies from the East Coast to Hawaii, and are available online for delivery in all 50 states and US territories. 

“We honor this land and the freedom the United States has given those who work it to benefit from hemp — that’s why Cornbread’s mission is to advance the legalization of hemp and cannabis,” says Jim, highlighting how the company has been adamant when criticizing restrictions to cannabis freedom in other states, from home grows in New Jersey to social equity programs in New York.

Jim has also written about how cannabis legalization has become a wedge issue for Republicans, which is why Jim believes Democrats should do more to press this issue. 

Photo courtesy of Cornbread Hemp

“We’re maximizing the delta-9 THC levels allowed under federal law through our Flower-Only, full-spectrum extraction, and advocating for an end of cannabis prohibition nationwide,” Jim says on our call, making it clear where the company stands. 

Jim and Eric continue to carry the flag that has made Kentucky famous for its cannabis, waving it proudly as an homage to their ancestors and setting a precedent for new entrepreneurs and growers, highlighting the importance of treating the planet and their customers with respect by providing top-tier USDA organic hemp-derived CBD+THC products.

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