Compliance and Cannabinoid Stability

Chemotypic Investigations

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.

Cannabinoid profile stability is an essential issue in the hemp industry. Both hemp and high THC C. sativa producers are frequently forced to remove strains from their production systems due to the deterioration of the “mother” plant from which they generate clones. (See FAQs – What’s the difference between a variety and a strain?). Our current research on the genetics of the pathways involved in cannabinoid biosynthesis allows us to consistently create varieties demonstrating high cannabinoid stability, even when grown across diverse and often stressed environments. To qualify for AOSCA certification, the Colorado Department of Agriculture tested our varieties across regions of CO and validated that NWG ELITE® varieties’ THC stayed stable in each location.
Breeding for stable cannabinoids that can be harvested on a large scale is another key element of our research and development program. The current production method for a bushy-style plant, whether clonal or feminized seed, involves extensive hands-on labor. Rooting clones, encouraging seed germination, repotting, or hand harvesting are standard practices.
Below is a diagram of New West Genetics’ basic breeding strategy– we induce novel variation repeatedly over generations to create plants with good agronomic traits, field uniformity, and stable cannabinoid profiles.


Terpenes are a large class of volatile organic hydrocarbons. Plants use terpenes in many vital physiological processes, including the plant’s response to environmental factors such as pathogen and photooxidative stresses (Tholl, 2006). Terpenes from hops (Humulus lupulus, the closest relative to C. sativa), such as myrcene and humulene, serve as beer’s major aromatic and flavor compounds. C. sativa synthesizes significant amounts of many terpenes, including myrcene and humulene. NWG is exploring the range of variations in hemp terpene profiles across diverse hemp cultivars. This will lead to understanding their impacts on floral aromatic qualities and enable the next phase of genetics discovery, which will employ quantitative genetics approaches enabled by modern sequencing technology.
Understanding the inheritance of hemp terpene ratios will enable us to create new varieties demonstrating novel terpene profiles more effectively. These modified profiles will exhibit aromatic qualities similar to and different from traditional hops varieties used in the brewing industry. This differentiation will provide a new avenue of flavoring and aroma opportunities to beer makers in the rapidly evolving craft beer market.