The Future of High-CBD Hemp

The Future of High-CBD Hemp

Forget clones. Seeds are the future of hemp farming. New developments in CBD genetics are about to shake up the cannabis industry.

By Beth Schecter On March 26, 2019

These days it feels like CBD is everywhere. But if you’re looking for whole-plant, terpene-rich, high-CBD products - the kind that tends to be the most effective and that Project CBD recommends - these may be hard to find. That’s because high-resin cannabis plants with full-spectrum terpene expression typically also contain substantial amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In places where THC is still illegal, or for those who simply don’t want it or who think they don’t need it, this can be a problem.

A possible solution can be found in hemp - its THC levels are generally very low and its CBD levels are somewhat higher. Hemp is also subject to a different set of rules and regulations than its THC-producing sisters. Compared to marijuana* regulations, hemp production is a cakewalk - as long as you keep your THC levels within the legal limit (0.3% or less). The problem is that low-resin industrial hemp doesn’t produce a lot of terpenes, whereas marijuana (the flower tops of high-resin cannabis) is brimming with these desirable aromatic compounds. Terpene-deficient, hemp-derived CBD products can leave people feeling flat, even when they use the whole plant for production.

Cannabis breeders have been grappling with these issues. In their glowing greenhouses in Monmouth, Oregon, Seth Crawford and his brother Eric have managed to produce high-resin, terpene-rich plants with negligible amounts of THC. After experimenting with cannabis cultivation (which sometimes meant growing in a closet) for 16 years, the Brothers Crawford have created a successful family business featuring a  catalogue of rare, high-CBD, terpene-rich hemp seeds that are now being shipped to farmers all over the world. At a dollar a pop and an expected yield of 50 million seeds this year, the Crawfords are growing something much bigger than a seed company.

From plants to network theory & back again

Seth and Eric grew up in a cabin in southern Oregon, where they learned how to hunt and to grow a substantial portion of their own food. Once a year, Mom would come around with a seed catalog so the boys could pick what they were going to grow that season. With their hands constantly in the dirt, both became adept at organic farming. Some of their flowers even earned blue ribbons at the Josephine County Fair - much to the chagrin of their older competitors.

When the brothers got to college, Eric continued to work directly with plants, gaining degrees in Horticulture and Environmental Science from Oregon State University. Seth took a different path, one that weaved through computer science, English, and public policy. An internship at the Governor’s office launched him into researching how Oregon could create an economic and political justification for…

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Greg Stearns