By Chloe Aiello
Just one week after Arcadia BioSciences launched a dedicated cannabis division, the biotech company announced it had received a license to participate in Hawaii's industrial hemp pilot program.
Shares of Arcadia ($RKDA) spiked after the announcement, and closed the day up close to 8 percent.
"We are really excited because this gives us a jump start for research in hemp. We will probably begin our operations there Apr. 1, which is right around the corner. We are poised and ready to get after it," Plavan told Cheddar.
On ten acres of leased land, Arcadia will have full rein to cultivate and tweak hemp crops, with the eventual goal of creating strains that are resistant to extreme weather and even guaranteed to stay under the legal limit of THC content: 0.3 percent or less.
"Farmers who want to grow hemp and maintain compliance with legal standards ー it would be great if they had a strain that would assure them they would never exceed the 0.3 percent THC. So if we can develop those strains, protect those strains with intellectual property, and then sell those to farmers to grow, that, for example, is a great way to improve the value proposition for farmers," Plavan said.
Davis, California-based Arcadia BioSciences is perhaps best known for its high-starch, low-gluten "GoodWheat," and breeding techniques that produce non-genetically modified products. Plavan said the company also plans to use non-GM techniques on the hemp, plus has the added bonus of avoiding intensive regulation by selling only to farmers or consumer products companies ー not directly to consumers.
"There really is no regulatory process if you are just selling the hemp or the derivative byproducts to either farmers or to consumer product companies. It's really those who are selling to consumers who will have to contend with whether or not there's regulations to be complied with," Plavan said.
Arcadia BioSciences is just the latest company to jump into the promising hemp industry, following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized industrial hemp. A bullish estimate from the Brightfield Group projects the hemp CBD market could hit $22 billion by 2022.
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