The cannabis plant is being found to have more and more medicinal properties and industrial uses than we ever knew as laws begin to relax and open the industry up. However, there are still a lot of hold ups because of how the U.S. federal government classifies marijuana--as a dangerous, addictive drug with no medicinal properties.
Researchers at Plant Biotechnology in Clarence believe they may have found a partial solution to this hold-up: THC-free cannabis.
Many health policy experts say THC is one of the main reasons that marijuana is still considered such a dangerous substance.
"There's no federal funding so that means the universities are not really able to do very much work on it because they don't have the money, even though they maybe have a license to do it."
Those were the words of Dr. Rushton, who thinks he found the secret to THC-free cannabis:
"We've learned a lot of really important things, the main one is that the cannabinoid biosynthetic pathway is something that we can manipulate."
While many doubt even THC should place marijuana so high on the list, without it, marijuana would almost certainly not be considered a Schedule One drug. So this breakthrough could be huge for marijuana as a crop. Dr. Rushton is also motivated by the economic advantages of opening up the industry even further with THC-free marijuana:
"I'm convinced that industrial hemp is going to be the next big crop in the country, something to rival soybean. But the problem is, you can only grow it and harvest it if the level of THC is below .3 percent. Otherwise you have to throw away your crop."
While many people obviously want the psychoactive effects of THC, THC-less cannabis could open up the medicinal and hemp industries significantly. Thanks to Rushton and his team, this breakthrough could bring more industrial hemp and more farming opportunities to their home town of New York and abroad.