An important piece of the heritable trait research New West Genetics is investigating includes the chemical profiles of the species. C. sativa is a chemically complex plant, containing many compounds (over 400! (Atakan, 2012)). To ensure compliance, New West Genetics focused first on understanding the molecular pathways of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Cannabinoids are a class of terpenoids (terpenes) that act on endogenous cannabinoid receptors located throughout the human body (Kreitzer and Stella 2009). These receptors are present in humans because the human body manufactures a similar class of cannabinoids known as endocannabinoids (Pertwee et al. 2010). Because THC is the singular factor differentiating hemp and marijuana, alternative cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) are often present in higher ratios in hemp. New West Genetics aims to breed the lowest possible THC content and has bred a THC Zero variety.