Hemp Research Buds on Campus

By RetterJ | July 26, 2019

Hemp greenhouse

In April, Arcadia launched a collaborative program with Agri-Kind Hemp, an organization committed to advancing the medical cannabis industry. One of eight colleges and universities in Pennsylvania involved in such a program, Arcadia will lead studies on the lifecycle of industrial hemp crops—a burgeoning research area that could expand academic opportunities for students and faculty. 

“It’s really cool to be entering unknown territory,” said Deanna Bigio ’20 (above), one of three Biology majors hired to work in the greenhouse this summer. “Since this type of research only became legal recently, it gives students a chance to create an industry from the ground up.” 

Bigio and members of Arcadia’s Biology Department conducted growth and harvest research throughout the summer, comparing seed varieties, cultivation processes, and a robust range of strains. Now, as harvest season approaches, students and faculty will address research questions related to propagation, review the best strains for production in Glenside, perfect their tissue culture work, and conduct genetic modification experiments. 

With low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels, hemp—a source for food, oils, and textiles—opens research outlets for a range of academic programs, from Global Business to Psychology. Forensic Science, for example, plans to explore cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical with the potential to alleviate pain, anxiety, and depression. 

“As this relationship grows, we anticipate opportunities for faculty in many departments at Arcadia to support student research in these areas and develop research programs around this collaboration,” said Dr. Naomi Phillips, chair of Biology and faculty leader for the project. 

To support such growth, Agri-Kind Hemp will ensure compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, and policies set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and Arcadia, which received an Industrial Hemp Research Program permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.