Federal Restrictions on Cannabis Still a Hurdle to Understanding the Plant’s Genome – But There is Good News
By Tracy Curley, Partner at Cohnreznick
The legal status of cannabis presents a challenge toward advancements in quality assurance and medical research. Currently, the Controlled Substance Act carries no distinction between the medical and recreational uses of cannabis, which is classified as a Schedule I drug – meaning a substance or chemical defined by the federal government as a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. While this label must be respected, the cannabis industry is behind in their efforts to understand the plant’s genetic properties, including ones that offer a peek into potential medical benefits, and harmful properties in various strains.
The resulting gray areas in the cannabis genome has left the lineages of hundreds of strains in the dark. This has given pause to industry participants, because even the most controlled efforts in the seed-to-sale process, specifically during cultivation and harvest, does not always provide the quality assurance needed in this situation.
The good news is that because of recent state-level legalizations, scientists and growers have seized an opportunity to aim more consistent and controlled research efforts at the cannabis genome. The goal is simple: the application of genetic mapping— a standard agricultural practice—to remove the trial and error process which has hindered the industry for decades. The mapping of the cannabis genome promises to restore transparency and trust between growers and, consumers, and the products they sell and consume respectively.
Despite being in its infancy, cannabis genome research projects’ benefits are already marked: cultivators can circumnavigate practices that have been, up till now, time-consuming, costly, and inefficient; biopharma companies can use literal genetic matching to create strains that will more accurately treat a variety of health issues; and other companies, plant-touching and otherwise, can capitalize on the overall increasing productivity of the industry.
Yet the overriding element, the seismic effect that genetic mapping is having on cannabis, is an increased transparency within an industry historically associated with black market activity. Restoring confidence in the product on a literal molecular level will elevate the entire seed-to-sale process of cannabis and ensure a superior product that satisfies regulations.
Technology like genetic mapping remains at the heart of the cannabis industry’s efforts to enhance overall seed-to-sale efficiency. It is for this reason that CohnReznick offers services to aid in the understanding and eventual implementation of this and other disruptive technology. For example, we work with cannabis industry participants to leverage a proven analytics technology and information management approach to extract data from the multiple source systems, transforming it into a useable platform, and building it into a centralized toolkit that allows for reporting, insight, and analysis.
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This has been prepared for information purposes and general guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and CohnReznick LLP, its members, employees and agents accept no liability, and disclaim all responsibility, for the consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.
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