THC-Free Cannabis: Why it’s not as crazy as it sounds – By Tony, Dutch Passion

Anyone that has visited the USA’s legal cannabis scene recently will have noticed the almost omni-present CBD oils, concentrates, buds and edibles that are appearing.

CBD oils and oral droppers have even made it into many high street and online health shops in other parts of the world.

To many observers, and indeed to many within the cannabis industry, it has been a surprise to see the non-psychoactive products become quite so popular.

The reality is that the general public are increasingly impressed with what they hear about the medicinal properties of cannabis.

Not all of those would want to get high: they are afraid of getting high, they dislike the stigma, or they just don’t want to. For some people those THC ethical concerns, misplaced or otherwise, can be safely set aside when enjoying a CBD-rich product which has no THC in it.

CBD-rich products have gained public mindshare remarkably quickly. It should facilitate the eventual acceptance of traditional THC-rich cannabis across more and more countries.

One surprising trend has been the popularity of THC-free cannabis for recreational smokers. If you feel the urge to enjoy some cannabis, a joint/vape of some THC-free weed has some unexpected benefits. Although you don’t feel high after THC-free weed, the urge to get stoned mysteriously vanishes.

It’s as if the desire for cannabis is dissolved, yet you are not high and can carry on as normal. It’s unusual, but handy if you find yourself wanting a joint too early in the day or in the wrong place.

Many recreational cannabis growers/consumers wish that their tolerance was a little lower from time to time. Traditionally the only way to re-set your cannabis tolerance was to take a break for 1-2 weeks. But with the new low-THC varieties, recreational consumers can reduce consumption in an easy way. Just hit the THC-free weed instead, and think about a real smoke later.

Dutch Passion are introducing Charlottes Angel cannabis seeds in 2018. They will grow into plants with around 15% CBD and about 0.2% THC. It’s not quite zero THC but you wouldn’t be able to get high from it. We will also introduce some oil made from similar low THC buds called CBD Compassion Extract. We hope both products will be useful, and we are curious to see how people react to the Charlottes Angel seeds.

But most medical cannabis users prefer some THC in their buds. And the most popular and useful varieties seem to be those that offer a roughly 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD. The high is not quite as psychoactive as a traditional THC-rich variety, but for many people it’s just as satisfying and has superior physical effects for pain relief etc. Likewise, the cannabis oils, concentrates and edibles made from the 1:1 varieties often get a good reception from medical users.

There is no real doubt about it: THC may upset the authorities for producing a pleasurable and enjoyable high, but it also has a valuable role for medical cannabis users.

One quite unexpected new development has been the popularity of micro-dose THC edibles in the USA. This involves edibles/pills containing around 3mg of THC, this is just a few percent of the levels used in traditional edibles. Micro-dosing THC has two main groups of advocates. One group of micro-dosers are people that have never used cannabis before and are expecting to start moving up to heavier doses to deal with a particular illness.

But before they attempt to take a heavy dose of THC they acclimatize gradually with increasing numbers of the micro-dose tablets. Another group of micro-dose patients are those that are never intending to move up to heavier doses, believing that an optimum dose can be as low as a few milligrams and still be effective.

A few years from now we will look back on the ‘old days’ when we only had THC and CBD to think about. Casting one eye to the near-future, some of the best breeders are currently selectively breeding completely new varieties rich in other cannabinoids, and they bring the promise of new medical properties and possible new types of psychoactive high from our beloved plant. It’s not easy work: just like the early days of CBD breeding the challenge is getting all the offspring to deliver consistently elevated levels of the desired new cannabinoid.

Lab testing is now a regular part of the cannabis breeder’s life, when used correctly it really makes breeding much more precise and quicker too. Poor breeding lines can be quickly discarded and energy focused on the best plants.

One surprising, but noteworthy observation from this work has been the difference in cannabinoid profiles for identical clones grown under different lights. You might expect the profile and ratios of the different cannabinoids to be roughly similar for all clones, but that isn’t the case.

The lab analysis, shown below, was done with standard HPLC techniques on clones of a standard non-commercialized research variety that had been grown by the same grower in the same medium/nutrients. One clone was grown under 600W HPS and the other grown under a high quality modern LED growlight. Note the elevated THC levels in the cannabis grown under LED grow lights.

That isn’t too much of a surprise, as many of the commercial legal USA growers are switching to LED specifically for higher THC levels – which sell for higher prices. But also noteworthy is the fact that CBG/CBG-A was increased 4-fold with the LED grow light. The optimized LED light spectrum and reduced IR heat levels have perhaps allowed the plant to grow under better conditions. Clearly there is still much to be learned about the role of light spectrum and the way it affects the cannabinoids produced by the plant.

600W HPS SolarSystem 550 LED
THC-A 16.69% 22.5%
CBC 0.015% 0.015%
CBN 0.066% 0.1%
CBG & CBG-A 0.3% 1.28%


It’s certainly looking like interesting times ahead, and full-steam ahead, for cannabis research with scientifically based selective breeding offering new types of cannabis with different chemo-types, different cannabinoid profiles, perhaps different medical properties and hopefully different types of psychoactive ‘highs’.

As the breeders are finding out, it’s not just about the genetics delivering the new cannabinoids it’s also about understanding the role played by the growlight and environment in allowing the genetic potential to be fulfilled. No-one really knows where it will all eventually lead, but it’s an interesting journey.

Written and published By Tony, Dutch Passion Seed Company 

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