Would you buy cannabis that's been genetically edited to increase/decrease THC?
It may sound like a far-off dream, but one biotechnology company in Indiana is making it a reality. That said, many growers in the United States don’t want to risk run-ins with the law when growing high THC weed, so how can they benefit?
Well, Growthing Together Research Inc. (GTR) also developed a way to silence THC in cannabis and hemp plants, allowing businesses to stay within the federally legal limit of 0.3% THC.
GTR partnered with Texas A&M Agrilife Research back in 2020. It wasn’t until early 2022 that the partnership announced it had developed a technique to transform THC content in THC-free hemp cultivars.
The struggle for hemp cultivators to stay within the legal limit of THC is challenging. More often than not, growers will have to burn their plants that contain more than 0.3% THC or face legal repercussions.
Similarly, GTR is partnering with academic and commercial entities in Canada to help them increase levels of THC. This kind of process is what’s known as stable gene editing and does not involve any additional chemicals or additives.
This means you’re not smoking synthetic or fake weed; all that’s happening is a simple gene change. CEO of GTR, Samuel E. Proctor, spoke with Forbes about how his company is not creating some sort of “Franken-organism.”
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk
Instead, GTR is introducing a short DNA sequence that blocks the production of a single enzyme involved in a single branch of the cannabinoid biosynthetic pathway.
Proctor added, “There are no foreign genes added from other organisms.”
This process is something GTR calls Delta9 Dial, which could soon be used to alter THC content right down to a certain percentage.
Furthermore, the company has been able to use its techniques on most cultivars of cannabis, meaning it can alter the THC content in popular strains on the market.
So far, Proctor says his team has been “able to successfully and stably transform all five cultivars.” Thus, the company’s technique should be successful with all cultivars, whether to silence THC or increase it.