CBD Flower

History and emergence of varieties

Cannabidiol (CBD) is right on the heels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as the second most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis, but you wouldn’t necessarily know that by walking into your local CBD shop and checking out the lab tests on your favorite strains. The emergence of high CBD cultivars on the market is still in its infancy and has only peaked in demand in the last few years. Prior to this emergence, cannabis was specifically cultivated to meet the demands of a market fuelled by the allure and potency of THC.

Why the sudden interest in CBD flowers in France

The shift in interest that has led cannabis breeders to focus on the propagation and dissemination of CBD genetics has several origins, one being the need to further explore the medical benefits of this compound. Thanks to the interests of a handful of scientists and breeders, high CBD strains that were once selected and bred specifically to extract the plant’s beneficial compounds are now being hybridized to meet the tastes and needs of a new market of CBD enthusiasts. It is through this process that some of the first high CBD varieties were born.


CBD content for one flower

A CBD-rich cannabis strain can contain anywhere from 4% to over 18% cannabidiol by volume, and even more in some rare phenotypes. While it is possible to achieve this CBD potency in hybridized cannabis, these levels have traditionally been seen more in hemp varieties that do not contain THC. Over many years of selective hybridization, cannabis growers have unknowingly begun to eliminate CBD from the gene pool. It wasn’t until the use of gas chromatography to test cannabinoid potency that high CBD varieties began to reappear.

The credit for this moment goes back to 1998 in Great Britain with Geoffrey Guy, MD, and the founding of GW Pharmaceuticals. Affiliated with the International Cannabis Research Society (ICRS) and supported by a UK government grant to grow cannabis, Guy and his team sought a variety of CBD-rich cannabis strains to extract and isolate. They found their strains through a Dutch seed company called HortaFarm, founded by expat cannabis legends Robert Clarke and David Watson. These unnamed high CBD Dutch strains were among the first to be selected for CBD isolation.

The development of the CBD-rich cannabis cultivar market undoubtedly began, and to some extent still exists, around the desire to feed the CBD extraction market. However, a new cultivar-specific model has emerged that emphasizes flavor over cannabinoid ratio. This new wave is fueled by the widespread legalization movement and the demand to fill store shelves with CBD in France with more diverse cannabis varieties in their cannabinoid ratios.

Although still rare in many markets, high CBD varieties do exist and are rapidly gaining in popularity. The next time you stop by your local store and see a Tsunami strain on the shelf, give a nod to Lawrence Ringo and the other CBD pioneers.

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