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Growing Together Summer 2020

Hemp Production in California

Hemp in growth chamber. Images provided by Arcadia Biosciences.
Legal contribution by April Pearson, Grow West Corporate Counsel. 

The plant, Cannabis sativa, has two species, “hemp” and “marijuana.” Cannabis plants contain over 400 diverse chemical compounds that can be used for medical and industrial purposes. One of the most popular compound families derived from cannabis are cannabinoids, representing 113 substances that have a direct effect on the body through cannabinoid receptors in our cells.

The best-known cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is derived from the marijuana plant and known for its psychotropic propertiesi.  Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis. While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived from the hemp plant [rather than] the marijuana plantii.

In addition to medical ingredients, hemp is also cultivated for industrial purposes. Known mostly for strong, straight fiber products and edible seeds, industrial hemp has only trace amounts of THC. Hemp fiber is even used to make bioplastics that are biodegradable and recyclable. Hemp oil is also an ingredient in paints, soaps and varnishesiii.  The edible seeds are rich in protein and may be used in smoothies or on salads, and hemp seed ‘milk’ is a dairy alternativeiv.

The differences between plants and products continue in the laws and regulations that apply to the two species. Federal law prohibits the manufacturing, distributing, and sale of cannabis products, but the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 removed hemp from the scheduled drug list which has allowed commercial production of hemp for the first time since 1957. Hemp plants grown commercially must be proven with state lab testing to not exceed the acceptable THC level of 0.3%. Currently, there are no federally approved standards for marijuana production, but several states have legalized medical and recreational uses of products containing marijuana and THC.

Since commercial production is expanding in California, Grow West® is now offering hemp to growers through Arcadia Biosciences Good Hemp™ program. A local Davis-based organization, Arcadia Biosciences, is a consumer-driven agriculture technology company that was started 18 years ago by creating traits for national seed distribution companies with emphasis on productivity and sustainable economic and environmental impacts. Today, they have three main crop focuses – soybeans, wheat, and hemp.

In the past, there has been variation of quality of seeds in the hemp industry. Arcadia Biosciences has applied their knowledge and experience derived from genomics research in soybeans and wheat to hemp production and has found success in producing consistent, high quality hemp varieties. With a variety of markets for hemp – fiber, wellness, and grain / protein – Arcadia Biosciences has focused on crafting and modifying seed types to best fit the desired traits for those three industries.

For more information related to Arcadia Biosciences Good Hemp™ Program, please visit their website at Contact your Grow West representative to see if this may be a good fit for your operation.











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