CSIR-NBRI developing cannabis with low intoxication for farming
Lucknow Despite its therapeutic and industrial potential, cultivation of cannabis is not legal in India under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985. It is the state governments which control commercial cannabis.
“With more than 0.3% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is psychoactive in nature, cannabis cannot be allowed for cultivation under the Act due to increased risk for psychiatric conditions, including psychosis, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and substance use disorders,” said Dr. Satya Narayan Jena, principal scientist, CSIR-NBRI, Lucknow, who has been working in this research area for the past three years.
“CSIR-NBRI, Lucknow was the first organisation to receive an R&D licence from the Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh governments in 2018 for the development of cannabis varieties with less than 0.3 % THC, and high CBD (cannabidiol) and fibre content for industrial and medicinal purposes”, informed Prof. S.K. Barik, director, CSIR-NBRI. “Our aim is to bring down the level of THC percentage from its existing high level to 0.3%, so that it can be cultivated under the NDPS Act 1985. For its cultivation, it has to be given to farmers and this is only possible if its THC level is brought down,” he added.
“Through our research, we also hope to boost its CBD content, so that growers can cultivate without the fear of legal repercussions. Three genotypes of cannabis have been developed so far from a large number of accessions collected from the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh,” said Prof. Barik.
“Preventing cross-pollination and maintaining the THC content is challenging, as these attributes are sensitive to variations in the environmental conditions such as wind, drought, and edaphic factors,” stated Dr. Jena, talking about the problems faced in its cultivation.
CSIR-NBRI has initiated preliminary research activities under the Private Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model with Bombay Hemp Company Pvt. Ltd. (BOHECO).
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