Willow Biosciences Inc (TSE:WLLW) (OTCQX:CANSF) has said it is planning to become the first company to launch biosynthetically-produced THC in Canada.
Willow’s in-house process creates a consistent, scalable and sustainable high-purity product that can be used in a multitude of different industries, from consumer packaged goods to pharmaceuticals.
The Canadian company announced Tuesday that it plans to commercialize the proprietary THC-producing yeast strain after it successfully launches its CBG-producing strain early this year. In December, Willow told shareholders it expects its first sales of CBG in the second quarter of 2021 - six months ahead of expectations.
READ: Willow Biosciences moves towards revenue generation as it expects first sales of CBG in second quarter of 2021
The successful production of THC demonstrates the versatility of Willow’s platform, CEO Trevor Peters told Proactive. Willow is planning to scale up the process to get the THC strain to a point where it is commercially ready by the end of 2021, and potentially even start manufacturing.
“We’re making a product that has a very big addressable market in Canada,” Peters said. “Being able to produce THC at a high level of purity is not something that’s available today. There’s no plant-based contaminants that would come through the extraction process and could potentially spoil a beverage or food item or something similar.”
Willow told investors that, through conversations with prospective customers in Canada, it believes there is a high demand for consistent, high-purity THC. “The flavourless, odorless attributes of our finished product make it suitable as a core ingredient for the cannabis 2.0 market in Canada,” Peters said. “There is also strong demand for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way to produce THC.”
More compounds in the pipeline
With two cannabinoids now successfully produced, Willow can now turn its attention to biosynthesizing additional compounds such as THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) that research suggests works as an appetite suppressant and could help with diabetes, among other effects. There’s also CBN (cannabinol), another cannabinoid compound that could be a potent antibacterial agent.
“Once we’ve done something once, we can more quickly move to something else within our overall portfolio,” Peters told Proactive. “Both THCV and CBG will be accelerated through the work we are doing on TCH and CBG.”
Peters told investors that Willow’s manufacturing process is 50 to 500 times more efficient than indoor cultivation and is the “next evolution of sustainable cannabinoid manufacturing.”
The firm said it is planning to target the adult-use market in Canada first, but is keeping a close eye on the regulatory environment in the US in case legalization should occur with the incoming presidential administration.
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