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This week, Jeremy Luciano, founder and CEO of GHS Industries — formerly Global Hemp Solutions — tells the incredible story of his journey to the cannabis industry.
GHS conceptualizes, designs, builds and installs everything from buckers and drying systems to harvesters and extraction systems. Although the company works in the hemp sector, it is a food-grade manufacturer that also serves other industries.
Luciano founded the company about 2.5 years ago, including a manufacturing facility in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, east of Louisville. He likes to analyze situations, see a problem, and try to solve that problem.
Luciano is a veteran who was injured while on active duty. He is a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) graduate, a training program that military personnel go through to make sure they can protect information abroad. During the training, Luciano suffered a spinal injury that caused lifelong damage to his back.
After the service, he entered the medical field and spent 10 years as an orthopedic trauma surgical assistant. Eventually, his injury caused him to lose feeling in his appendages and bladder control. He soon became addicted to pharmaceuticals and entered a dark phase of his life that led to a suicide attempt. He put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger, but he believes divine intervention saved his life that day. Luciano, an avid shooter and military-trained marksman, says his firearm had never malfunctioned except for that day in that specific moment. He found no mechanical explanation for the malfunction. He says he has lived a devout life ever since.
Luciano started using cannabis regularly when he was around 14 years old. He says it helped him control his overactive mind; about a year ago, he was diagnosed with a high-functioning form of autism. As he looks back on his time as an adolescent, he says that he wasn't a "stoner," but that cannabis helped him focus.
Through some trial-and-error as an adult, he figured out how to make cannabis work for him, and he began reaching out to other troubled veterans who could use some help.
Luciano was introduced to cannabis cultivation about 10 years ago in Washington State in an effort to grow his own medication. Eventually, he began growing for other patients, and he soon spearheaded large, licensed grows of medical marijuana for local dispensaries.
Unfortunately, his injury complications persisted, and the labor-intensive nature of cultivation can be incredibly taxing on the body — so he switched to manufacturing equipment instead.
Luciano first ventured into industrial hemp because he was drawn to the plant's sustainability. He says the industry has too much fear: farmers are scared of losing everything, and lies and misinformation can be found throughout the sector. He describes numerous run-ins during his time in the industry, including bad actors trying to make a quick buck by selling prototypes/early generation equipment as market-ready — and marking them at a premium to prey on farmers entering into unfamiliar territory.
About a year ago, Luciano was also challenged by a retail company with a similar name: Global Hemp. He is currently negotiating with the company, but it's also resulted in a recent name change. Luciano says the experience is a warning of things to come as larger corporations get into the industry; mom-and-pop shops could find themselves in contentious situations with companies possessing larger war chests.
The pandemic has been a challenge for Luciano, mostly because he's not the type of CEO who likes to sit behind a desk — he wants to be out in the field. His outspoken belief also presented some issues. He says he tries to steer clear of associations, politics and toxic personalities — but that he has joined clients in prayer during business meetings, as well.
His spirituality even influenced the new name, he says: GHS doesn't just stand for Global Hemp Solutions, but also God Hates Sin.
The Cannabis Equipment News Podcast is an interview series with growers, processors, manufacturers, distributors and other professionals who work within the legal cannabis industry.
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