New York: Company Wants To Produce Marijuana's Cannabinoids In Tobacco Plants


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Wait, what? In another development on the fast-breaking front regarding the corporate takeover of cannabis, a New York-based company wants to produce cannabinoids in plants other than marijuana, particularly in tobacco.

22nd Century Group, Inc., a plant biotechnology company that calls itself "a leader in tobacco harm reduction and cannabis research," on Thursday announced that it is launching a major new initiative to produce medically important cannabinoids in plants other than cannabis – including tobacco plants.

In support of this initiative, the company also announced that has opened its own fully outfitted molecular biology laboratories in the Cleveland BioLabs building on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. 22nd Century said its new laboratories will host cutting-edge research in industrial hemp/cannabis and tobacco biotechnology.

Paul J. Rushton, Ph.D., the Company’s recently appointed Cambridge and Max Planck Institute-educated Vice President of Plant Biotechnology, will manage the Company’s research efforts at the new laboratories.

Under a worldwide license agreement with Anandia Laboratories Inc., 22nd Century claimed it "enjoys exclusive rights in the U.S. to genes required for cannabinoid production in the cannabis plant." The plan seems to be genetically modifying tobacco so that it produces the same cannabinoids as does marijuana.

"The proprietary technology facilitates the modification of cannabinoid levels in cannabis, providing 22nd Century Group an exclusive competitive advantage in the burgeoning area of cannabis biotechnology," according to the company's Thursday prepared statement. "In brief, the proprietary technology provides the Company with tools to increase or decrease the production and content of all or certain subsets of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant."

Building on the Company’s licensed technology and sponsored research with Anandia, and utilizing proprietary “transcription factor” technology that the company purchased for $1.8 million from the National Research Council of Canada, 22nd Century said it is "pursuing multiple new research projects, including a novel new initiative to produce specific, medically-important cannabinoids in tobacco plants," apparently through GMO methodology.

"The Company believes that this tobacco-based approach could 'leap-frog' existing cannabis biotechnology and yield commercial medical products far more rapidly," according to 22nd Century.

"Using tobacco as a 'bio-factory' to produce cannabinoids is an approach that only 22nd Century can pursue since the Company is in the unique position of having vast experience with manipulating tobacco and is also the only company in the United States with complete freedom to operate in the cannabinoid biosynthetic pathway," the company's press release claims. "Through this innovative research, the Company intends to cost-effectively produce commercial quantities of marijuana cannabinoids – including CBD and CBC – that show great promise in treating neurological disorders and other diseases."

“Because cannabis is still not legal at the federal level in the United States, 22nd Century is launching this bold new initiative in order to isolate and produce cannabinoids independent of the cannabis plant; this is not possible for any other company," Dr. Rushton said. "Our new laboratories will provide 22nd Century with the in-house capability to develop important new enabling technologies and gene discovery in both tobacco and cannabis that could revolutionize both the medical marijuana and smoking cessation industries.”

“We are pursuing a broad strategy to make 22nd Century the world leader in cannabis biotechnology,” said Henry Sicignano, III, president and CEO at 22nd Century Group. “Our Company-operated laboratories will enable us to own, outright, the scientific discoveries, intellectual property and patents that we develop through our research efforts," he claimed.

"In addition, we are planning an expansion of our sponsored and collaborative research with our strategic partner, Anandia Laboratories in Vancouver, Canada, and with other University partners in the United States," Sicignano said. "This diversification of our efforts will enable us to legally conduct a full spectrum of industry-leading cannabis research.”

About 22nd Century Group, Inc.

22nd Century is a plant biotechnology company focused on technology which allows it to increase or decrease the level of nicotine in tobacco plants and the level of cannabinoids in cannabis plants through genetic engineering and plant breeding. The company’s says its "primary mission is to reduce the harm caused by smoking."

22nd Century currently owns or exclusively controls more than 200 issued patents and more than 50 pending patent applications around the world.