This is Part I of a special series on growing medical cannabis in Texas. Read Part II here.
Here at Compassionate Cultivation, we’re deeply proud of our latest landmark for Texas medical cannabis patients: the successful harvest of Waterloo, the first new cannabis strain created legally in the Lone Star State.
Our team of cultivation experts developed this new genetic strain of the cannabis plant so that we can provide the most effective, high-quality medicine for our patients and develop new cannabis oil products.
I tapped into my extensive background in agronomy to launch Compassionate Cultivation’s cannabis-breeding program in May 2018 (on the one-year anniversary of our business receiving its provisional license to start operations), and I’m so encouraged by the early results and what’s in store for the future of the Texas medical cannabis program.
I wanted to share a few details about the creation of Waterloo and some of the science that goes into developing a new cannabis strain.
Bringing Cannabis Genetics Into the Light
We began a breeding project in order to optimize production of our rigorously lab-tested medicines that contain extracted cannabis oils with state-mandated levels of cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in cannabis.
Because cannabis breeding in regulated environments is relatively new, we’re still learning so much about the science of cannabis as it relates to the plants themselves. The decades-long federal ban on cannabis has resulted in scores of strains developed in the shadows with little information available on the genetic background—just imagine if mainstream agricultural products like tomatoes or corn were developed this way. For years, underground cannabis breeders focused primarily on increasing the psychoactive component, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Now that commercial cannabis cultivation is overseen by state regulators, we can focus on breeding plants with the characteristics that will best aid medical cannabis patients, such as increased prevalence of cannabidiol (CBD). I realized early on we could improve upon the genetics of the strains that we had acquired.
Breeding cannabis is in some ways analogous to breeding dogs: Over the course of time, certain purebreds have developed problematic health issues—think bulldogs that have trouble breathing or German shepherds prone to hip dysplasia.
Similarly, certain “purebred” cannabis strains will have some of the characteristics you want, but those traits are accompanied by issues such as minimal CBD content, sparse yields or being vulnerable to disease.
What’s Behind the Waterloo Strain
To create Waterloo, we focused on the medicinal components of the plant AC/DC, which is one of the best-known high-CBD strains. But much like a purebred, AC/DC lacks a strong constitution, and in order to meet our objectives, the strain needed to be hardy and productive. We needed to consider the stabilization of the gene line, as well as creating stable seed stock. That’s where the BaOx strain comes in.
BaOx is similar to a mixed-breed dog in that it’s a super-healthy workhorse of a plant. It has hemp and landrace genetics (landrace strains are considered pure, indigenous cannabis strains that have not been crossbred).
We crossed a male AC/DC plant with a female BaOx plant—our ultimate goal was to create a strain that combined AC/DC’s CBD content with the vigorous growing habits of BaOx—and this is Waterloo.
By law, the cannabis oil products Compassionate Cultivation sells to patients with a valid prescription must contain at least 10 percent CBD and no more than 0.5 percent THC. Cannabis oil extracted from Waterloo is approximately 17 percent CBD.
We plan to continue to breed Waterloo for better genetics and more vigorous yields, and are hoping to eventually have the strain formally evaluated in a Texas-sanctioned research and development program.
As the future of the Texas medical cannabis program unfolds, patients can count on Compassionate Cultivation to continue to deliver top-quality medicine.