A U.S. plant biotech company has announced it has been successful in growing a strain of industrial hemp plants that have zero levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
While industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) is generally quite low in THC (<1%), the fact the compound is present is one of the reasons there’s been so much red tape with growing the crop. The presence of THC also adds cost to growers in many countries as extensive testing is required.
If plants are found to have above the maximum THC level allowed in whatever region they are grown, they often have to be destroyed; meaning added and substantial financial loss for farmers who are also unable to insure against the risk.
Under U.S. federal law, crops containing above 0.3% THC are considered to be a Schedule 1 narcotics by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and must be destroyed; despite the fact that even at levels of 1%, the plant has zero recreational value.
22nd Century Group, Inc. in collaboration with strategic partner Anandia Laboratories, Inc. in Vancouver, Canada may have solved the vexing issue with their zero THC industrial hemp strain. From what we can gather, the plants still contain cannabidiol (CBD), another therapeutically valuable but non-intoxicating cannabinoid. The levels of CBD in this strain are unknown at the time of publishing.
22nd Century Group is certainly excited about the development, which they state could revitalize the hemp industry worldwide.
“We are delighted that our exciting research with Anandia Labs has created zero THC plants and altered levels of cannabinoids suitable for both industrial hemp and medical marijuana,” said Dr. Paul Rushton, 22nd Century’s Vice President for Plant Biotechnology.
“We anticipate that our zero THC hemp plants will form the basis of a new generation of industrial hemp and medical marijuana varieties. These markets are projected to be multi-billion dollar markets in the near term.”
The company says it will now distribute the proprietary hemp plants to the university research partners to adapt the strain to various climates around the world. No doubt there will be plenty of ongoing interest in this project.