Another Major Breakthrough in Cannabis Research
This discovery will effectively allow other researchers to determine which parts of cannabis’ genetics treats which kinds of problems, thus narrowing down the many claims made about the drug to much more reliable facts. It will also aid in testing for the continuity of the myriad of strains as well as the ability to breed and grow plants faster and more effectively. Schwartz went on to say that the discovery will also foment the creation of recreational cannabis products that are targeted more specifically in a given direction. For example, researchers could determine which part of the genome will make a cannabis user feel either more fatigued or more energetic. But having the complete map of the genome itself, which was initially unveiled at the Plant and Animal Genome Conference in San Diego on January 17, also opens the door for a host of productive uses of cannabis. For example, energy drinks or teas designed to make users sleep could result from subsequent research based on this discovery. And, perhaps most importantly, research that is based on this new map of the genome could also pave the way for new cures or treatments for all kinds of physical and neurological diseases and disorders. It could also open the door for the breeding of stronger and more effective forms of hemp to used in industry, such as clothing, food, insulation and even lighter-weight concrete.
Chris Grassa, Sunrise Genetic’s consulting director of bioinformatics stated that previous attempts to map out the cannabis genome had been made, but only Sunrise’s resources and stable selection of plants allowed for the discovery. The genome is made up of 10 pieces, and Sunrise’s research has enabled them to see what those strings are made of and where on those pieces the genes are located. Grassa stated that having this genome is akin to having both topographical and annotated maps of a given country. Sunrise was established in 2014 by CJ Schwartz, his brother and his brother’s brother-in-law and a family friend with the intention to use industry-accepted genetic tools to map out the cannabis genome. But all of them had essentially assumed that another company would beat them to the genetic mapping of cannabis. “We pretty much waited as long as we could, but it was really necessary for us to get this assembly to be able to move on with efficient gene discovery,” said CJ Schwartz. “Without this information, it just takes too long, it’s too expensive.”
The cannabis genome would most likely have been mapped out long ago, except for the laws regarding the possession and research of cannabis. It’s still illegal to mail marijuana plants from one state to another, and research is still hampered by the fact that the federal government still classifies cannabis as a Level 1 substance, which makes it illegal at the federal level to own or distribute cannabis. And then there is the issue of how the cannabis industry will actually be able to use the genome map. “There’s such potential to make things better, and that’s really what our goal is: to guide that using modern techniques, which are employed all the time by all the major ag companies,” CJ Schwartz said. “Cannabis pretty much now is catching up–as long as we don’t get all thrown in jail.”