Marijuana research in 2018

Published Jan 25, 2019 04:45 p.m. ET

 With legalization still lingering in our rear-view mirrors, many are wondering what benefits they will reap from legalized marijuana hitting the shelves. While its great everyday weed users aren’t considered criminals anymore, and access to marijuana is readily available, the undisclosed benefit of legalization is the ability to explore marijuana science with lots of funding. Recent studies on weed have already provided massive insight into the inner workings of a cannabis plant. If you haven't heard of any of these amazing accomplishments in the news, then you may believe we have yet to make progress. Luckily that is far from the truth.

Medical marijuana studies

Verda Bio - The Seattle biotechnology company Verda Bio became the first marijuana research facility. Officially receiving its license to begin studies in November 2018. With the Verda, teams focus being on medical marijuana studies including the effectiveness of each strain while also decoding why one plant varies so much from the next. The CEO of Verda Bio, Jessica Tonani is motivated by her personalexperiences in the field to completely map out and understand every single chemical component including some of the least talked about cannabinoids like CBDV, CBG, THCV, and CBC. Each cannabinoid is suspected to be responsible for specific unique medicinal qualities. Jessica Tonani has so far had success in and specializes in treating gastrointestinal disorders using cannabis plants with high levels of CBC which have proven anti-nausea benefits. Using strict and selective breeding methods, Verda hopes to design marijuana plants that produce consistent, reliable effects while making them easily accessible for those who need it most. One of the most interesting things about Verda’s cultivation is that they use only males and are the only growers in the entire state that will be growing only male cannabis plants. That is because the majority of growers focus on high yielding THC content females for recreational use. Verda is trying to make a strain that will not get you high but may be able to replace some of the most common prescription medications on the market.

Marijuana Science

University of Toronto Genome Mapping - Tim Prince and his team have located the differences between two cannabis plants and their active compounds. Using genome mapping and closely evaluating each plants chromosomes with high tech computers. Tim and the University of Toronto team have officially found related enzymes that force THC and CBD to both be present in one chromosome. As far as marijuana science goes, this is a huge leap and a discovery that will go down in history as one of the most significant. Truly marking the beginning of our ability to understand the genetics of a cannabis plant. They have also found that Cannabis and Hemp plants share 85% of the same proteins and canbe recombined, which indicates that they are very likely both the same species of plant. The University of Toronto researchers now thinks that gene duplication of the ancestral retroelements in years gone by forced ancient cannabis species to break into two unique types. This separation gave us hemp and the cannabis plants we see today. The university team's current theory is that the separation occurred thousands if not millions of years ago. These two different groups of cannabis plants fought off different viruses. Permanently leaving the scarred reminisce of their DNA behind. Their research now focuses on speeding up the breeding process to provide the ability to produce large numbers of new strains as quickly as possible as well as the natural reasons for a plants CBD or THC production. So far, it appears that these two chemical compounds are naturally occurring insect repellents because they are mainly produced where bugs would attack the plant but so far has no evidence has surfaced to solidify this theory. Tim is currently researching various genes that could produce marijuana plants that are impervious to insects and major climate change.

Educational Marijuana Science

McGill University Teaching How to Grow Weed - McGill University is a public research facility and a well-established school in Montreal, Quebec. Due to legalization and the need for professional growers, McGill saw an opportunity to provide students with a unique opportunity to study and work in an emerging field. In 2018 they opened enrollment offering diplomas for cannabis knowledge and production beginning in 2019. With legalization a demand for skilled growers will surely follow. The number of skilled growers currently is very low, so this is a great chance for young cannabis enthusiasts to get involved. Many of those who pride themselves as expert growers would have done so illegally up till this point, therefore would have nothing to provide to prove credentials. Currently, you can choose between three different lengths of study from 1 year to 3 years. For those in Quebec looking to break into the new world of legal cannabis, this might be just the help they need to gain high skilled and high paid employment. Some lectures will be provided by Mcgill teachers or professors, but the most influential experiences offered will be given by guest speakers who are already professionals in the sector. With many members of the growing industry saying education is a key element in the growth and the ability to maintain a plant, it is expected that any students who enroll into Mcgills program over the next few years will likely have no problem obtaining employment immediately after, if not before graduation.

Considering we have obtained all this knowledge in mere months of legalization, imagine what leaps and bounds will be made over the next decade. With designer strains for both medical and recreational use, we may soon finally understand the cannabis plant enough to benefit from it the most, with a lot less guessing. It may be sooner than we think that we will be able to pick a bud for its specific properties rather than trying to find something that barely works. Imagine walking into a dispensary with a migraine and walking out with almost instant relief from a non-pharmaceutical medication. That’s the future we can look forward to.

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