Genetic engineering is the manipulation of the genetic code (or ‘genome’), it can be done to either plants or animals. Mice were the first to get their DNA meddled with back in the 70’s. The first plants were modified in the 1990’s and since then we have learned a great deal about tinkering with the genome to enhance certain plant qualities. Food crops are now routinely genetically modified to yield better, be drought resistant, to be insect and disease resistant etc. Genetically modified (‘GM’) Soybean, corn and many other crops are now grown all over the world. The genie is out of the bottle.
Just what could be achieved if cannabis could be genetically modified? Who would have the cash to do such a thing…and why?
The first people I expect to create GM cannabis are the pharmaceutical companies, they have the cash to make it happen. They are on the crest of a wave as medical marijuana begins to enter mainstream medicine. At the moment this market has an annual value worth just tens of €millions but this market will grow exponentially, in a few years I expect the pharmaceutical market for cannabis medicines will be worth literally €billions as cannabis starts finding its way into mainstream treatment for pain relief, MS, epilepsy, sleep problems, depression, cancer treatment etc etc. GM cannabis could be created to grow into large ‘tree’ style plants that may be able to yield insane harvest quantities perhaps over several years. The mind boggles. Yet realistically GM cannabis will be tried if, and when, the pharmaceutical companies start realising the true financial pharmaceutical potential for ganja.
Mazar, grown outdoors in soil filled containers in the Czech Republic from 20th April to 15th November 2010 using feminised seed. Superb specimens. Can genetically modified weed be any better than the natural version ?
I also suspect that by manipulating individual genes and specific parts of the plant DNA, cannabis could be genetically modified in a way which would selectively favour production of certain cannabinoid compounds. Natural marijuana produces over 85 different cannabinoid compounds of which THC is the most abundant. Cannabinoids are the only compounds that work in conjunction with the human cannabinoid receptors. Sooner or later people will understand the precise role of each of the cannabinoid family and that will allow a second generation of cannabis medicines to be created. These they will use selective groups of cannabinoids or even individual ones, for highly specific medical purposes. Certain medicines may be more effective with plenty of cannabinoid CBN and CBD enrichment, who knows. Perhaps they will remove the THC so you can’t get a pleasant buzz from it.
The pharmaceutical companies will feel they have to convince everyone that the benefits of their particular marijuana medicine can’t be achieved with normal weed. Some of the drug companies will shy away from involvement fearing that medical marijuana may actually cut company profits as it eats into existing premium-priced medicine markets. But ignoring a new emerging market is never a smart way to deal with it in a free market economy. ‘Sooner or later someone will exploit and dominate the medical marijuana market so it may as well be us’, the pharma companies will conclude. By embracing medical marijuana they can grow their own raw materials and use the various active ingredients in different combinations for different medicines. It is the ultimate business model, one raw ingredient that is easy and cheap to farm and multiple medical products, all with very few costs.
Personally I expect the pharmaceutical companies will invest heavily to genetically engineer a cannabis strain that yields ultra high levels of the whole spectrum of cannabinoid chemicals. The aim will be to extract and isolate them into individual cannabinoids on an industrial scale using thousands of tons of bud. Once individual cannabinoids are isolated I expect they will find their way into pills for very specific medical purposes. This is the best way for pharma companies to remove the ‘threat’ of homegrown weed, they will simply say that their preparations are more effective because they are more sophisticated. Of course not everyone will believe them, but they will become rich enough anyway. Perhaps a few seeds or cuttings of these GM strains will find their way back to Amsterdam…..just imagine the great hybrid strains!
In the meantime the traditional cannabis seed breeders will continue to make the most useful contributions to the medical marijuana movement by working with grow cooperatives. I am personally sure all marijuana is medically effective, yet there are some strains that are often better known by the medical marijuana users. In Dutch Passions case, it is often strains like Ortega, Mazar, Strawberry Cough which are perhaps mentioned most frequently by med users.
So perhaps we will see genetically modified cannabis in the not-too-distant future. I think it will take 5 years before they build up the courage to announce plans to try it, and another 5 years before they show us the results. I am sure the medical marijuana movement will be involved in a very big way, but have you ever wondered what the implications and experiences might be for the recreational stoner? Could GM cannabis give you radically different weed to that which we enjoy today? Maybe weed that doesn’t stink when you grow it, or weed with a quite different buzz? As crazy as these questions seem, I reckon one day very soon they will be asked for real.
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September 30th 2011
Recent comments (31)
On 25-10-2012 at 11:16u Ina,Bulgaria wrote:
Please don't involve with this GM industry! We,the users who grow cannabis for medical purposes,using it for eating and making tinctures say NO to that! or if you decide to think only for the money and make GM marihuana i want to know which strains exactly will be GM so i will never buy and tell all of my friend to NOT BUY! Thank you!
On 25-10-2012 at 12:36u Tony, Dutch Passion wrote:
Ina, please stay calm ! So far no-one has genetically modified cannabis. We are only talking about the possibilties.
On 30-10-2012 at 12:18u MrSparkles wrote:
There is already work going into gene splicing in Cannabis, not for recreational use but pure R&D. At the moment its more controlling Phenotypes by manipulating genes at 4 identified Loci that cannabis has. This is used to control THC(V), CDB(V), CBC(V), CBG(V) in the plant.
GM is the way forward and it also needs to happen to keep the human population going in such a high demanding environment. It might not be needed in cannabis but will only better the end product.
And to all those “nay sayers” who think they can judge without understanding GM on a scientific level, well in 2008 there were riots in 36 countries due to the 70-130% rise in base-line crop prises. That is what you will all be heading for and are a big part of cause.
Nature has a way of balancing itself out. In 25 years we could be up to 9 Billion people. Try feeding them without GM Crops..!!
On 01-11-2012 at 00:56u Jeff wrote:
claims of boosted yields are complete fallacies
you must be selling pesticide
traditionally grown foods can feed the world better than GMOs
On 19-01-2013 at 14:44u Ina,BG wrote:
Jeff: You dont even have to use pesticides,just have to keep the soils clean and healthy so they can produce many nice crops.
I repeat i don't want to smoke that or use it for anything! I made small research by asking more than 100 people in public forums,my friends and others. All of them were terrified by the idea.I suggest you do the same. Once made,genetically modified cannabis will mix with many strains and it will be unstoppable(like the other GM cultures). One day the most expensive weed will be again the bio weed,i bet on it:) The right course for DP will be:"We sell real bio cannabis!"
On 02-02-2013 at 21:01u Patrick wrote:
Marijuana has been genetically altered since the early 70's when I learned how to alter seeds throught the extract of a certain juice of a toxic plant. Many plants are altered through grafting which alters the genetics from one strain to another strain and creates a 3rd strain genetically different from the other two strains. Being genetically altered does not destroy the basic DNA, just as cloning sheep, dogs or humans does not alter the basic DNA. If it alters the DNA it becomes something other than it was and then it would no longer be pot, it would probably be pottie or peyote.
On 12-02-2013 at 11:50u Jack wrote:
some one please find the genes that manipulates blackberry growth speed and spikes and put it into a weed plant. Result would be a spiky fast growing dope plant :D it would take over and they could not do a thing about it
On 14-05-2013 at 23:12u T Smoke Train wrote:
The problem with genetically altering anything is you will not only alter what you want you will make additional uncontrollable changes which are most of the time not favorable,
such could be the creation of toxins not known to the body which could be dangerous and even deadly.
This is what we have with our food right now, GM corn produces more natural toxins so it kills of insects by its own but its causing massive damage to the humans that eat it cause its not natural to take the toxin at such quantaties at a time, or worse: its not even a natural toxin at all!
Cannabis also has toxins which kill insects and fight off molds, if the toxins where to be modified in the process of creating fatter buds
(which wouldnt be a surprise at all) could end up rather dangerous if people are going to eat it or if it gets modified so badly it doesnt all burn in a joint, it might even turn deadly
So for the love of jah think twice and please leave the herb alone, leave everything alone!
YOU didnt create it so YOU are not in charge!!
On 01-08-2013 at 20:28u Canna an wrote:
I agree completely t smoke. Right now there are 0 deaths related to marijuana and how amazing is that? Something that is "so dangerous" we are having a war against it, yet completely harmless. Do we really want to change those numbers from 0? If marijuana becomes a genetically modified organism we will surely see that number rise from 0. Grow the best you can but leave the natural process of the plant alone.
On 14-08-2013 at 02:39u Carol M wrote:
I was under the impression that marijuana has already been GM for about a decade now....
On 12-09-2013 at 22:23u DIRTLIFE wrote:
GM cannabis plants will be genetically modified to produce poison to kill off common insects and will affect the consumer also! The only tests that have been done on GM foods today have caused cancer and sterilization in lab rats
I agree with what Canna wrote: "Right now there are 0 deaths related to marijuana and how amazing is that? Something that is "so dangerous" we are having a war against it, yet completely harmless. Do we really want to change those numbers from 0? If marijuana becomes a genetically modified organism we will surely see that number rise from 0."
On 21-09-2013 at 22:18u Garrett wrote:
I am a freshman in college and the development of strains with targeted concentrations of THC, CBD, and CBN is a subject that completely fascinates me. Does anyone have any insight on what path I should take to be able to work in a field where I would be doing this?
On 08-11-2013 at 00:14u Marcos wrote:
Please do not GM Cannabis!
We don't need it
We don't want it
It is risky and not possitive
Marihuana breeding is ok like has been for years. We don't need to touch directly the DNA lets the natural and growers selection do its work!
On 15-11-2013 at 20:08u Icenitribe wrote:
I see no harm in experimenting with genetic manipulation of cannabis as it may lead to new understanding of the lesser known cannabinoids.
@dirtlife Gmo foods that are pest resistant are not ingested though inhalation...I may smoke a corncob pipe but I don't smoke the kernels..."pop pop". I doubt the first thing a company would want to do is create poisonus medical cannabis as it would defeat the purpose. Augmenting the cannabinoids and growth patterns would seem obvious,possibly even color and appearance or even making a totally different species of plant produce cannabinoids "thc apples". I could see governments doing nefarious manipulations of the cannabis plant.
On 22-11-2013 at 21:12u Eye5 wrote:
The first 300 plants to be geneticali modified were marijauna .......in 1976 in miramar california part of the mk ultra project .....shhhh its too late breeders
On 26-11-2013 at 10:20u Scintilate wrote:
So, GMO cannabis, what are your thoughts on >seed to sale . tracking?
On 19-02-2014 at 14:02u Dan wrote:
its funny how all GM feed is making the cattle and the people very sick. Dont trust these parasites and all their lies! monsanto have created terminator sterile seed! how will this feed the planet? its all about control. Cannabis will be next to be tampered with and potentially ruined.
On 20-03-2014 at 05:59u Biochemist wrote:
“Cannabinoids are the only compounds that work in conjunction with the human cannabinoid receptors." That is incorrect; humans have the endocannabinoid system.
On 20-03-2014 at 06:20u Biochemist wrote:
“Personally I expect the pharmaceutical companies will invest heavily to genetically engineer a cannabis strain that yields ultra high levels of the whole spectrum of cannabinoid chemicals. The aim will be to extract and isolate them into individual cannabinoids on an industrial scale using thousands of tons of bud. Once individual cannabinoids are isolated I expect they will find their way into pills for very specific medical purposes.” I disagree. Dronabinol (synthetic THC) does exist as a Schedule III drug in the U.S., but it is not horribly successful. Crude extracts (just grabbing all the cannabinoids) have also not been really successful.
I think pharmaceutical companies will instead make (and attempt to patent) their own protocol for genetically modifying a strain or strains then sell these strains to patients by monopolising the market. “Your friendly neighbourhood kickass special years-of-labour genetically engineered bud”, and then the local shops won't be able to compete.
On 22-03-2014 at 11:02u Smiley wrote:
People!! What are you thinking?!? Don't do this. It is a very bad idea and I will do everything in my power to sway people away from a GMO anything, never mind cannabis! Please STOP!! Are you not seeing the problems we are having right now with GMO's. Maybe you should look at the issues Hawaii is having. Go back the hybridization for the people, and the planet.
On 16-04-2014 at 13:14u Nochance wrote:
Oh my god ! Most of you on here are under educated. You all rant and rave it's bad this, bad that. Get a grip for the sake of your own sanity, and mine for having to explain this over and over. Genetically modified anything is not bad within set safety perameters. Firstly, nothing is added or taken away per-say from g.m. plants. The genes which are already present within the plant, or from another plant are taken and realighned if you like to accentuate or eradicate specific criteria. This is EXACTLY the same as the following example. You have to shop for food every week. So imagine every week you shop for your neighbour and they shop for you. Every week you get shopping, some times you get something you really like, most of it is o.k. and some is not needed or disliked or even unsafe if you have an allergy to say nuts or something, or maybe you have a special dietary requirement like low sodium. Imagine this method of food shopping as the cannabis plant. Now say you could write a list of specified foods, you end up totally satisfied with your shopping that week. No nut traces in your gluten free bread so to speak. That's your g.m. crop right there. You could Taylor any detail of the plants genetics to suit your needs. Higher thc or faster flower time, bigger buds whatever you like. Lets look at selective breeding. You are slowly generation by generation genetically modifying cannabis. You cross a sativa with an indica, well done you just modified the genetics of a plant. You could have taken another indica to breed with your indica and the same for the sativa. But we all know that hybrids are the way forward, because they are a tailored version of what we want. Otherwise why would you cross that short fat indica with a dank smell n fat buds, with that tall fast growing sativa that takes forever to flower, has small buds and smells vaguely of ass. Because you are hoping you can get a tall plant, with fat buds that smell dank, with a nice short flower period. G.m. is a way of eleviating the guess work. Imagine if you could change that short gene for a tall one, or the gene that makes your lovely plant have low potencey and switch it out with a high potencey one. We aren't talking food crops, even though it's the same. We are talking about weed. You all rant it's super safe doin weed, so why the panic. Don't be a sheep and follow the rest of the crowd with the hype. Rest assured my friends G.M. IS the way forward in future. Your kids will be eating it if you don't, and it's idiots like you that stop the progression of future advancements in medicine. That stupid, pig headed blindness never serves anyone well. I can't wait to see, smoke and get high on a plant that only produces thc. The high is pure, the potencey is guaranteed no matter what some jumped up punk bitchis trying to sell me on the street corner, and we've all been there with bullshit ditch weed. I agree to the fullest that it should be a seperate avenue completely from the mainstream bud to eleviate problems with purity of genetics aswell as the nostalgia of it. Like organic food now. 30 years ago, nearly every thing you ate was organic. I'm English so nearly everything my family ate would have been sourced from local farms and company's as the transport of goods wasn't what itis now back then. Now people will pay tthrough the nose for it haha. Humanity is by far the stupidest thing I have ever encountered. Have you all forgotten we are the product of each other's natural selection. You are all apes. Not some Devine race. You have the same inate fears and instincts as any other animal. Loud noises, predators and most imortantly fear of the unknown. Do us all a favour and educate yourselves to save people like me half an hour of my life typing this just to help people I will never meet. I will never even see a reply to thus post as when I hit enter and leave this page I won't be back. To all those who know what I'm on about you are gifted, please continue educating yourselves for personal gain. To all the rest , Laters ya god worshipping, dream analysers !
On 05-05-2014 at 14:01u M. Vaughan wrote:
You all are WAY too late for this discussion. 1- Marijuana has been transgenic for YEARS. You can google "gm marijuana seeds" and come up with countless sites who have no problem saying what they really are. 2- The University of Florida has submitted the first U.S. patent for their method of producing transgenic marijuana. Do you all really think last year was the first time someone created transgenic marijuana? It's one of the most mutatable plants on the planet. It's basically a toy for botanists, and now someone has patented a major method of producing transgenic marijuana seeds. What happens now? Who are they going to sell it to, or are they going to lease the rights? Are they going to sue people who infringe on their patent? Apparently they can do anything they want, because people like this are in denial of its existence. It's a real thing. A real patent, by a real university, with a real botany research program. And speaking of 3- Norman Borlaug started messing with plant genetics in the 1940's. If you've ever been an activist against world hunger, you should have have heard of him. He was given the Nobel Peace Prize for saving a BILLION human lives with his genetically modified crops and is the father of the Green Revolution. Top that.
On 22-05-2014 at 03:57u GOD wrote:
GM Marijuana already exists. They have been doing it since the 90's, haven't you noticed the 5,000 new potent strains of marijuana to just come out of now here since the mid 90's? The hundred different types of kush, the thousand different hazes; the guy that wrote the first comments is a f*****g idiot.
On 18-06-2014 at 22:56u GMO IS POISON wrote:
I'm going to make this really short and to the point: GMO is poison to the human body! Millions of people across the planet are DYING of bowl diseases and multiple forms of cancer BECAUSE of GMO's!!! This is PROVEN FACT and anyone who says otherwise has been completely brainwashed with propaganda. Studies show that humans beings have a 500% greater chance of becoming sterile when fed a high GMO diet!!! Look this stuff up and don't fall for the propaganda! This is VERY real!!!
On 22-06-2014 at 19:20u NO GMO CANNABIS wrote:
I am a fan of Dutch Passion. I strongly urge you to quit creating Genetically Modified Cannabis. It is not a natural way of breeding. Genetically Modified Corn And Soybean Are Terrible for Humans and the environment! Please do not cross the GM line!!
On 27-06-2014 at 17:59u Fox Mulder wrote:
Have you ever thought about bringing genes for THC into organisms like yeast? Would be interesting to make beer or bread with this modified yeast.
On 28-06-2014 at 15:42u AWitnessofRevelation11 wrote:
genetically enhance marijuana to have a perrenial trait, and the ability to grow fruit that's rich in cannibanoids. That's the map leading to the tree of life.
On 10-07-2014 at 16:34u Randomemailofanilliteratepublicofficial wrote:
Responding especially to Carol M... and AWitnessofRevelation 11.
You are correct. GM is everywhere. You can't find wild-type MJ anymore. It's all GM. This conversation is a decade late... that's when my friend was GM-ing it (fruit that's rich in cannibanoids)... before going to the big house for lesser matters. FYI, Al Capone seved a life sentence for tax evasion.
Also, GM is not as effective as polyploids with respect to production.
This has truly been a public service announcement.
On 26-11-2014 at 21:41u Michael wrote:
80% THC plants coming with large thick stalks to hold it up 10 foot high with insane yields with insane anti-mold/fungi and pest resistant? That can handle extremely low/high temps, and sub-par soil? Sign me up, I'd make BHO all day.
On 28-02-2015 at 16:21u Ron wrote:
Why think small and do genetic engineering on whole plants? Why not have pure cannabinoid-specific Cannabis cell lines with high expression yields that we can grow in mini- and desktop photo-bioreactors? No pharmaceutical companies will want to deal with plants (too complex/indirect; dirty/non-sterile) when they could simply cell culture, with much better control and relatively small bioreactors, much purer products much the same as biopharmaceutical (recombinant proteins/antibodies) are currently manufactured.
Or why not just skip cell culture and go direct to even more higher technology - synthetic biology? Develop and sell us the enzymes and terpene starting materials/intermediates for home-brewed semi-synthetic THC and variants?
On 06-03-2015 at 17:11u Jon wrote:
I'm not here to argue the science of GMO's. My thought is that you have an extremely hard time fighting the big money that's in the process of entering the game. My concern is that we don't know enough about how it affects human health. The thing that has me skeptical is the amount of money that goes into anti labeling propaganda that is spewed across the airwaves at election time. I want the choices available to the general consumer to be easy choices if they wish to avoid GMO products.