Colorado hemp seed genetics company Trilogene Seeds is introducing the world's first hemp cultivar engineered to prevent THC production.
The patent pending "THC Null" trait was developed by a team of university professors and bio-engineering experts over a two-and-a-half-year period using RNA interference (RNAi) technology to silence the genetic pathways that produce THC in a hemp plant.
THC Null cultivars are not physiologically different from any other hemp. They simply cannot make THC — the psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant, including cannabis, and in minimal amounts, hemp.
The introduction of THC-free hemp genetics means the global hemp industry can finally move forward without fear of running afoul of THC-limiting laws, said Matt Haddad, CEO of Trilogene Seeds.
Hemp farmers risk losing their crop and the threat of criminal charges if their hemp produces more THC than legally allowed. In the U.S, hemp farmers are subjected to a strict .3% limit on THC. By comparison, cannabis typically contains 20% or more THC.
"This varietal will also dramatically improve extraction efficiencies to optimize for CBD without THC limitations," Haddad said. In 2020, nearly 9% of the 70,530 hemp acres planted in the U.S. went hot, according to New Frontier Data.
"Hemp has been under the iron fist of unreasonable government regulations and farmers have risked everything with hemp crops that went hot due to no fault of their own," Haddad said. "Trilogene Seeds' THC Null trait is the result of applying cutting-edge technological tools to address the key issue stifling the growth of the hemp industry."
The THC Null trait also makes CBD hemp production more efficient. In unaltered hemp plants, CBD increases in step with THC. Therefore, hemp cultivars could only produce relatively low amounts of CBD or other non-psychoactive cannabinoids or terpenes before they breached THC thresholds.
Now, however, growers and processors will be able to work with much less hemp biomass to produce the same amount of CBD isolate, Haddad said.
Trilogene's first THC Null cultivar, "Pandora," has a 17 to 22 percent CBD profile and will be available as a "clone-only" varietal this spring in the U.S. market. Seeds for the U.S. and international markets will be available this fall.
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