Researchers create yeast using CBD and THC

Published Mar 6, 2019 10:00 a.m. ET

It seems 2019 is showing great promise already with the introduction of a newly discovered cannabinoids yeast. New marijuana research has been released from scientists at UC Berkeley who set out to find an entirely new product. A THC and CBD using yeast instead of cannabis plants. The hope was to create a product that could be used to brew traditional alcoholic beverages that are infused with the highly sought after and newly legal cannabis-derived cannabinoids instead of alcohol.

The discovery

They discovered that by carefully injecting the genetics from Cannabis Sativa plants into regular brewers yeast the results were a cannabinoid infused product. Yeast is the ingredient responsible for turning sugars into alcohol, but the introduction of that cannabis gene made the yeast produce cannabinoids like THC and CBD instead. The results were beer products that would get you high which is something the legal market has yet to experience. Now the question is whether or not companies will be allowed to manufacture and sell the product they worked so hard to create. If they can open for business, the concern is how the product could ever be advertised while following Canada’s stringent guidelines set out to take effect on April 1 of 2019.

Troubles with production

Unfortunately, marketing won’t be the only challenge faced by companies wishing to use this yeast in their products. The most significant issue appears to be environmental factors followed by marketing and packaging.

Environmental Issues- The entire process from seed to harvest and production of producing this yeast is much less energy efficient than regular yeast. It requires more power, water, and bodies to be able to do which makes the process expensive for both the environment and manufacturers pockets.

Marketing- Tight Canadian regulations have many people wondering if it’s even possible to legally advertise such a product. Most people hear the words wine or beer and think of an alcoholic beverage, and the rules clearly state that no cannabis derived product may be marketed by a company that currently makes alcohol. They also cannot be advertised with any sort of association to alcohol which is where things get sticky. Some lawyers have argued that the law could be interpreted as based on opinion which is impossible to abide by, particularly in this case where the products in question are typically associated with alcohol.  

Packaging- Right now the guidelines released by the Canadian government have put forth recommendations for packaging of any kind of edibles products that will be allowed on the market on April 1 of 2019. The suggested limit of cannabinoid per package is 10 mg of THC which is much less than consumers say they would need to have a product that they would consider to be a fair equivalent to alcohol. This leaves manufacturers to pocket the bill of incredibly reduced sizes that adds to the overall cost to the consumers.

How does it work?

The plants that have been given the genetics from a Cannabis Sativa are grown under relatively normal circumstances. They produce THCA and CBDA just like cannabis plants and much undergo a process called decarboxylation to activate the cannabinoids. The enzymes are harvested from the wheat and then heated up which produces a cannabinoid infused yeast. The end product can be used to make a wide variety of drinks that we currently know as alcoholic beverages into a THC and or CBD infused version. The idea is to produce an alternative for those who prefer marijuana now that cannabis is legal.

The future of cannabinoid yeast

With the legal cannabis market being so fresh and untouched there are several companies and manufacturers looking to get in on the action, and it seems like that will include active cannabinoid infused alternatives. The question now is whether or not we will have access to them in the same capacity as those who prefer alcohol. The hope is to see THC drinks as widely available as spirits are with access to the public. So far two companies have announced that they have plans in place for releasing the product at the beginning of 2020 to the general public.  

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