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Niche Creating Programme

HEMP

Cannabis sativa L. : A potential under-utilized crop for next green revolution

The Cannabis plant has regained its medicinal and industrial potential in recent years globally. Several countries like Canada, United States of America, Japan, France, Italy, Hungary, China, Denmark, other European countries, Australia etc. are leading in hemp cultivation and manufacturer of multi-utility products worldwide. The plant has been used for both industrial (THC <0.3%) and medicinal purposes (THC >0.3%). Presently, the crop has been considered as a “Trillion Dollar Crop”. There are more than 100 cannabinoids present in the plant among which THC and CBD are in major proportion. THC is psychoactive while CBD is non-psychoactive compound and only due to presence of high THC (Assumed >0.3%) in plant it is considered as a narcotic crop. Though, THC is being used for treatment of chronic diseases or symptoms, including Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and chronic pain. Some preclinical researches have advocated other potential therapeutic applications for non-psychoactive phytocannabinoids for example Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has putative therapeutic applications for treating psychosis, affective and seizure disorders, inflammation, and neurodegenerative disease. CBD dampens the psychotropic effects and thus can counter the frequent and most unpleasant side-effects of isolated THC. Other positive effects of CBD in respect of alleviating THC effects are the dampening of tachycardia trigged by THC, normalisation of the slowed time perception caused by THC and a weakening of the THC-induced dazed state.

Beside this, Cannabis sativa L. (Industrial hemp) is commonly grown as a fiber, seed, biomass or other dual-purpose crop. The global market for hemp consists of more than 25,000 products. Hemp produces some of the best and most durable fibers of natural origin, immemorially used to produce ropes and sails for sea ships, paper, banknotes and even the first Levi’s Jeans. Its modern applications include a wide range of products, including fabrics and textiles, yarns and raw or processed spun fibers, carpeting, dashboard of exclusive cars, home furnishings, construction and insulation materials, auto parts and composites. The interior stalk (hurd) is used in animal bedding, raw material inputs, low-quality papers and composites. Hemp seed, oil and oilcake are used in cosmetics, personal care and pharmaceuticals, in a range of foods and beverages that can be an alternative food protein source or as an animal feed. Hemp seeds have a high content of easily digestible complete protein and a rich endowment of oil providing a favourable ratio of the linoleic (C18:2Ʊ6) and linolenic (C18:3Ʊ3) essential fatty acids required for proper human nutrition. Realizing the potential of Cannabis, several states like Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh have framed policies for its cultivation either for R&D or commercial purposes. However, several others like Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are in process of finalizing policies for Cannabis cultivation.

CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow is the first R&D organization who has taken challenge for the development of variety having <0.3% THC and high fibre for industrial purposes on one side and high THC and CBD variety for medicinal purposes on the other. CSIR-NBRI played a major effort to push the Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh Governments for making a policy for cultivation of this very important plant. Uttarakhand Govt. has issued notification for the commercial cultivation of varieties having < 0.3% THC while U.P. Govt. has framed out the policy for issuing licence only for R&D purposes. CSIR-NBRI has initiated preliminary research activities under PPP model with Bombay Hemp Company Pvt. Ltd. (BOHECO). CSIR-NBRI is also involved in initiating R&D programs with the collaboration of Manipur Govt. for streamlining the cultivation of Cannabis crop in Manipur for the rational and socio-economical upliftment.

Major Aims

  • Development of varieties for high fibre and low THC for industrial purposes.
  • Development of varieties for high THCfor medicinal purposes.
  • Development of varieties for high CBD for medicinal purposes.
  • Establishment of Centre of Excellence for Cannabis R&D activities at Distant Research Centre, CSIR-NBRI, Banthara, Kanpur Road, Lucknow.

Objectives

  • Standardization of agro-practices for the cultivation of Cannabis sativa
  • Quantitative and qualitative evaluation of germplasm lines.
  • Biochemical and molecular characterization of germplasm lines.
  • Identification and selection of promising stable cultivar/germplasms with low/high THC content for industrial/medicinal uses.
  • Crop improvement through breeding approaches in identified selected high yielding and low THC lines integrating associated molecular/chemotypic markers.

Achievements

The cultivation of Cannabis sp. in India is prohibited under NDPS Act 1985 and it comes under the jurisdiction of State Governments. There was no any Govt. policy framed out for its legal cultivation unlike Opium Poppy. CSIR-NBRI was the first R&D organization who took the challenge to initiate the genetic improvement program and BOHECO sponsored a project to CSIR-NBRI under PPP model. CSIR-NBRI along with BOHECO made very sincere and hard efforts to get the licence from the State Govt. of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh for the last 2-3 years.

  • CSIR-NBRI succeeded to obtain the R&D licence inUttarakhand in July 2018 and Dec. 2018 from Uttar Pradesh.
  • 100 accessions of Cannabis were sown at two sites in three replications in randomized block design (RBD) in 1m2 plots out of which only 50 germinated.
  • Imported eleven exotic germplasm through NBPGR, New Delhi for enrichment of Cannabis germplasm stock.
  • Collected data on various morphological traits to generate passport data.
  • Established protocol for Cannabinoid testing through HPLC.
  • of Uttarakhand recognized CSIR-NBRI as Nodal Cannabis Testing Centre.
  • Observed significant variability in various cannabinoidsofdifferent germplasm.
  • The Tetrahydrocannabivirin (THCV) ranged from 0.000% to 1.184%, Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) from 0.00% to 0.415%, Cannabidiol (CBD) from 0.000% to 3.021%, Cannabinol (CBN) 0.000% to 0.473%, Delta 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) 0.000% to 0.527%, Delta 8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC) 0.000% to 0.611%, Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA) 0.000% to 2.477%.
  • Highest CBD content was in germplasm 15 (3.037%) followed by GP 01 (2.557%), GP84 (1.969%) while highest THC content was noticed in germplasm 86 (2.740%) followed by GP 90 (2.638%), GP 32 (1.894).
  • Total CBD content ranged from 0.000 % to 3.037% while total THC content ranged from 0.000% to 2.740%.

R&D Collaboration

  • Bombay Hemp Company Pvt. Ltd. (BOHECO) sponsored a project to CSIR-NBRI under PPP model.
  • To conduct off-season trial of Cannabis at G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Sustainable Development, Almora.
  • CSIR-NBRI collaborating with Govt. of Manipur for the prospects of commercial cultivation of Cannabis in the state for medicinal purposes.