The Company is researching work projects that are focussed on creating a homogenous library of plants through the study and augmentation of the plants core genetics.
Could “Made-to-Order” Cannabis Be Just Around the Corner? Genetic Scientists Believe So
In order for plant-based nutraceutical protocols to deliver consistent doses, the core element or plant must have consistent, reliable amounts of the medicinal sought. The Company is investigating technologies that enable growers to achieve these consistent results each and every crop. When you walk up to a hamburger stand, you can customize your sandwich to fit your tastes. Want extra pickles? You’ve got it. Want a dollop of ketchup instead of mayo? No problem. Don’t like onions? Fine, the cook will gladly leave them off. As a famous American hamburger chain once advertised, “Have it your way.”Click here to Read More
The situation is quite different when it comes to cannabis. The buyer is pretty much stuck with whatever happens to be available at that moment, like it or not. But what you could customize your cannabis purchase like you can with a burger? That situation may soon become a reality. A small group of scientists are hard at work studying cannabis genetics with the idea of developing a way to grow “made-to-order” plant strains that will enable buyers to get the exact high they want and medicinal users to better treat their particular ailments.
Before we get to that day, scientists have to overcome two significant and very dissimilar hurdles. The first is they must understand exactly how the various chemical molecules in a particular strain of cannabis work together to affect everything from that strain’s potency, aroma and medicinal benefits versus those of another strain.
The second obstacle is legal. Right now, only nine U.S. states have legalized recreational cannabis use – less than one-fifth. Medical cannabis is legal is 29. The situation is far different in Canada, where recreational use will be legal nationwide by the end of summer 2018. When will the U.S. follow? Polls in the U.S. indicate nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans favor legalization. However, at present, legal cannabis use is limited. Even with these limitations, cannabis represents a $40 billion market. Still, the legalization issue surely holds back market value. It also impacts the number of scientists who could be working on recreational and medicinal cannabis customization. Researchers have focused on two primary molecular components within cannabis. The first is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This molecule is what gets a user high while consuming cannabis. The second is cannabidiol (CBD). This molecule is important for medicinal users, as it is believed to alleviate seizures. Of course, many other important molecules affect each cannabis strain’s potency, taste, smell, etc. And, there are molecules that could prove beneficial in relieving medicinal users’ nausea, boosting appetite, easing the effects of glaucoma, and more. Scientists have two main questions in regards to all these molecules. First, how do they interact with one another in each of the many cannabis strains? And second, can they be manipulated genetically to produce an intended, beneficial result? Progress has been slow. This has mainly been due to the legalization question. With cannabis being illegal in many jurisdictions across the U.S., biotech scientists have been reluctant to engage in research that may not go anywhere, especially on the commercial side. Those who do conduct cannabis-related genetic work must be dedicated, as quality sanctioned specimens, funds and equipment are often in short supply. Another problem facing researchers is knowing a direction in which to proceed. There is almost no limit to past commercial and medical studies on a plant such as corn (maize). In stark contrast, there have been few commercial studies to indicate what recreational cannabis consumers want and would be willing to pay for. There is more documentation on needs on the medicinal side, but it is far from complete. That means scientists often have to blaze their own trail when determining what to study and how commercially or medically viable that research may prove to be in the end. Finally, cannabis is a very diverse plant. There are so many strains and hybrids around. That presents a challenge for scientists. Endless crossbreeding by growers has not helped. This variety makes it more difficult for researchers to identify, map and productively exploit cannabis’ genetics.
How can better understanding cannabis’ genetics help researchers – and ultimately growers – come up with more useful and beneficial strains? Genetic research can identify what certain cannabis molecules do. For example, they can identify a molecule that reduces nausea in a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy. Then the scientists can manipulate and tweak that strain’s genetics so that particular molecule and the trait it produces become more amplified and dominant, while less desirable traits can be reduced. The researchers can then produce a modified strain that yields a planned and predictable result every time. Growers can then plant, harvest and market this strain to interested users who will know it has been grown for an expressed recreational purpose – such as an enhanced high – or to meet a specific medical need. While challenges – legal, financial and scientific – remain, researchers are confident that given the time and the resources, they can properly understand and manipulate cannabis strains. They will be able to develop custom-made plants to meet unique requirements. When that happens, growers can take better advantage of a $40 billion market. And consumers will be able to go into a shop and just they can with a hamburger, get a bag of cannabis their way.