22nd Century Group, Inc. (NYSE: XXII) was founded in 1998 by Joseph Pandolfino as a means to provide funding to NCSU (North Carolina State University) for a collaboration on the biosynthesis of nicotine in the tobacco plant. This was the company’s first step into plant breeding and genetic engineering to reduce the level of nicotine in tobacco, and they have been capable of using that technology to grow plants that have 97% less nicotine. Independent studies have shown that it can help people to quit smoking.
As the company grew and as cannabis started to lose its stigma, 22nd Century Group entered the field. Botanical Genetics, LLC, their wholly owned subsidiary, entered into a worldwide licensing agreement with Anandia Laboratories, Inc. This agreement has provided 22nd Century Group with “an exclusive sublicense in the United States and a co-exclusive sublicense in all other countries, excluding Canada to patents and paten applications relating to the cannabis plant that are required for the production of cannabinoids”.
22nd Century has also used their knowledge for genetically engineering plants to develop a solution for the main issue with hemp in the United States, namely the fact that it contains THC and is therefore disallowed by the federal government. The company developed industrial hemp plants, which have zero traces of THC in them. The company has also been continuing research that is aimed at industrial hemp plants, allowing them to contain just the right amounts of cannabinoids to be used in the medical industry.