HorticultureKeymasterNovember 14, 2016 at 1:24 pmPost count: 98
Imagine growing only 2 or 3 cannabis strains and never discovering the full range of genetic variation that exists in this globally adapted and continually evolving species. This has been the case with government grown cannabis in the US, and a recent study conducted in Colorado measured the range of phenotypes found in public dispensaries compared to US government outlets.
The US government uses strains produced only in its own facilities for research, and in this study these were compared for their levels of cannabinoids to strains available in dispensaries. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is the only agency permitted to grow cannabis for the US government’s research on cannabis, and NIDA’s few strains were found to be very limited in their cannabinoid profiles.
NIDA samples were compared to thousands of cannabis samples collected from dispensaries in Seattle, Denver, Oakland and Sacramento, and they were the lowest in CBD and THC content. After collecting cannabinoid profiles on all the strains used for this study, they were statistically analyzed using a method called Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to group the samples based on their range of cannabinoid content. This showed mathematically how little variability exists in the NIDA-grown cannabis, compared to the publically grown strains; it is a sub-set of the strains offered to the public.
This is not an ideal situation for cannabis and cannabinoid research; when NIDA is using so few, low potency strains, results of R&D will either underestimate or completely miss important facts about cannabis’ healing potential. The researchers conclude with saying:
“Studies reporting on effects of Cannabis using NIDA strains will continue to lack external validity, possibly underestimating the effects of more potent strains that are widely available. Compounding this problem, is the fact that the public availability of high-potency Cannabis has increased in recent years. Given our data and recent reviews that have suggested that the greater potency of today’s marijuana, compared to earlier decades, may lead to significantly greater levels of intoxication and harm, it is important for research to begin understanding consequences and impact of using the publicly available Cannabis.
Basically, “the current situation is a significant impediment to research that seeks to clarify the potential harms or benefits.” And further studies will be needed to examine the effects of terpenoids and phenolics upon cannabinoid metabolism, which will add even greater appreciation for the range of cannabis genetics that is possible.
Instead the solution is to unlock the treasure trove in cannabis genetics. Methods such as cross breeding and selection for hybrid-vigour will start to fling the cannabis genomics treasure chest open. Scientifically examining the DNA of these new strains is now routine and can begin classifying the genetic variability to map out the cannabis genome in finer detail.
Simply manipulating strains to be feminized and to exhibit autoflowering is also the start of a whole new range of cannabis phenotypes. Using whole genome doubling (ie polyploidy) to create new tetraploid cannabis strains is underway. This research will create cannabis flowers with new phenotypes, grown under environments the plant will continue to adapt to and evolve. As we promote this process, the cannabis plant will start to show us it’s true potential as it evolves symbiotically even faster with our prompting.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.