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Hemp manufacturer GenCanna teams with UK researchers, says they have a material with zero THC

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

GenCanna, a hemp manufacturer based in Winchester has announced they have developed genetic material from the plant that has 0.0 percent THC, the ingredient in hemp’s cousin, Cannabis sativa, that gives the high from smoking or ingesting marijuana.

GenCanna was an inaugural member of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s industrial hemp pilot program and was the first hemp pilot program participant dedicated specifically and exclusively to researching and commercializing hemp-derived CBD (or cannabidiol) in the state.

The company calls this a significant development in the burgeoning hemp industry, which has recently been helped with the passage of the 2018 Federal Farm Bill and the removal of hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.

GenCanna photo, provided

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles calls this a remarkable development for the hemp industry and Kentucky.  

“When I became agriculture commissioner, I promised to make Kentucky the epicenter of hemp research and production in the United States. Announcements like these prove Kentucky is well-positioned to lead the nation in this arena.”

According to GenCanna, producing proprietary, patentable genetics at 0.0% THC promises farmers, processors and other potential industry partners a path toward industry participation. Genetics with 0.0% THC are the only full-proof way of mitigating that concern.

Steve Bevan, president of GenCanna and chairman of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, says this development “will give both industry participants and industry onlookers confidence-in-compliance as they work to deliver new solutions from the hemp plant. We built GenCanna to develop a scalable supply of CBD products that meet the strictest quality and safety standards.”

The research was done in partnership with the University of Kentucky, led by GenCanna’s Global Development Director Henri Marmillion and UK Professor David Hildebrand. Their shared research extends beyond this announcement and includes multiple areas of focus.

Hildebrand said there’s more than just developing a plant with no THC.  

“We are also developing more rapid, efficient, economical and accurate methods for measuring cannabinoid levels from large numbers of hemp plants including intact plants growing in fields. The new hemp varieties being developed will be characterized, using methods including molecular genetic fingerprinting, as well as the establishment of a system for certified seed production of the improved hemp varieties.”

As a result of the partnership, GenCanna is sponsoring fellowships for UK Masters and Ph.D. students focusing on genetic improvement of hemp for enhanced CBD levels, metabolic engineering to increase production of minor cannabinoids, remote cannabinoid analysis and variety development and characterization for certified seed production.

“We are entering our sixth growing season in Kentucky and I have never been more certain that Kentucky is the right place to build the world’s leading hemp company,” said Matty Mangone-Miranda, chief executive officer of GenCanna.

In the last few months, GenCanna has announced significant expansion plans including the building of a $40 million facility in Graves County that will bring more than 80 new jobs to the region. 

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