The mere mention of genetically altered foods can perhaps make some people throw up at the dinner table. But despite people’s perceptions of genetically modified organisms, commonly known as GMOs, experts believe that the increasing number of places who are legalizing cannabis use might encourage some experts to start genetically altering foods.
Epileptic Seizures Treatment
The FDA announced in June that they have approved the Epidiolex, a drug used for the treatment of epileptic seizures, which is made from a cannabis compound known as the cannabidiol or CBD. Some researchers are hoping that the FDA will re-classify the CBD itself and not only the drug. That way, they can easily and legally study this component of marijuana.
Lowering the restrictions on the study of CBD may also be great news for the biotech startups that have been producing cannabinoids by means of genetic engineering. Genetically modified products are said to be purer and are definitely more affordable compared to the other ways of extracting marijuana plants.
Why is There a Need to Genetically Modify Cannabis?
With genetically modified cannabis, the plant can become resistant to things like mildew, pests, and molds without the need for regular horticultural intervention. Through this technology, it’s also possible to change the chemical pathways of the plant. It helps growers to potentially adjust the level of CBD and THC much quicker, unlike the traditional method of breeding.
Rare compounds such as the cannabigerol, which is anti-inflammatory, non-psychoactive, and pain killing, could take as much as 10 years to be grown through the usual process. This can be slashed down to only a few months when genetically modified.
Experts are yet to determine the health implications of genetically modified cannabis. Some medical sources are noting that genetic modifications are yet to take place in the industry of cannabis and no substantial evidence has been shown to draw conclusions.
Companies Showing Interest in Genetically Modified Cannabis
At this time, the genetically modified cannabis is still not in existence. This could be due to the lack of research, thanks to the legal implications that come with it. However, there’s one company that seems to be staking a claim in the concept of genetically modified cannabis.
Tweed has filed a patent in the hopes of altering the cannabinoid contents in the medical compositions obtained from cannabis. While nothing has come out of the patent yet, Tweed is trying to claim intellectual property once the genetically altered cannabis is released in the market.
Another company, the InMed Pharmaceuticals that’s based in Vancouver, is looking into refining the production of rare cannabinoids in Escherichia coli, a type of bacteria. Extracting a useful amount of these beneficial compounds is unrealistic since they are present only at a low level. For minor cannabinoid, there’s a dire need to apply synthetic biology. Research on genetically modified cannabis might push forward in the Netherlands or Germany where there are only a few barriers to researching cannabis.