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 (15)
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