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How Understanding the Genetics of Marijuana Will Benefit Humanity

When it comes to medical marijuana, there's still a lot we do not know. While we know some conditions it can treat, we don't necessarily know what the most effective ways to do so. But a new study of the genetics of marijuana may help out.

Sunrise Genetics, a company in Colorado, recently completed the first ever map of the cannabis genome. Understanding the genetics of marijuana could be incredibly useful for determining medical uses of the drug. It will help determine which parts of the drug's makeup are most important for the medical benefits people receive from it, as well as helping scientists know how to grow cannabis quicker and with more effectiveness for treating various ailments.

The other thing mapping the marijuana genome will do is figure out what medical conditions cannabis can actually treat. You've probably read various wild claims on the internet that marijuana can cure cancer and other outlandish theories. Mapping the genome will help determine which of those claims are false and which are actually true.

“DNA, of course I’m biased because it’s what I do, but it doesn’t lie. It really is a way to just sort of clear a lot of the b.s.,” CJ Schwartz, chief executive officer of Sunrise Genetics, told Bloomberg. “The excessive claims are really doing a disservice to the plant or the potential of the plant and the science surrounding that.”

Using cannabis genomes to help breed better marijuana isn't necessarily revolutionary. Major agricultural companies do the same thing with corn and other products. But companies have refrained from mapping the cannabis genome due to the drug's illegal status at the federal level, and the lack of funding for such projects.

Now that we have the full genome, it's up to cannabis companies to determine what to do with it. Sunrise Genetics will help guide marijuana companies as much as possible. 

“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,” Schwartz said. “Cannabis pretty much now is catching up—as long as we don’t get all thrown in jail.”

(h/t Bloomberg)


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