Cannabis Genetics: The Future of Cultivation

Cannabis Genetics: The Future of Cultivation

Seed Propagation

Growing from seeds or “germination” has sustained cannabis cultivation for thousands of years. In fact, it’s still the principal means of creating new hybrids and genetics. However, when it comes to producing cannabis on larger scales, seed propagation has a number of drawbacks.

Firstly, plants grown from seeds will be inconsistent with wide variations in size, potency and yields. Furthermore, a significant percentage of the seed grown plants will be male and need to be destroyed in order to create seedless or “sinsemilla” flower. This makes seed propagation unsuitable for large scale cultivation, which is why commercial producers rely on a different method.

Cannabis Clones: Stem Cloning

The majority of cannabis cultivators today make use of stem cloning to supply the large number of plants required for commercial production. This involves growing healthy and high-quality mother plants from which cuttings can be taken and planted. And the result? A large number of identical female plants with stable genetics and consistent potency, flavor, and yields. However, even stem cloning has its issues, principally the amount of time, space, and resources required to keep a large clone nursery viable.

Micropropagation: Tissue Cultures

In order to scale up production further, industrial cultivators have been seeking to utilize an agricultural biotech method known as micropropagation, which can be seen as a highly advanced lab grade version of cloning. With this method, small tissue samples are taken from plants with the most desirable genetic traits and then propagated in a highly controlled sterile environment where they are given a perfect blend of nutrients and hormones. An almost infinite number of genetically identical plants can be produced with micropropagation, and more importantly, the tech can be scaled up in a way that stem cloning cannot.

Cannabis Genetics: Molecular Breeding

While micropropagation may seem like a miracle tech for industrial cannabis production, it unfortunately leaves the door open to molecular breeding, which allows for all sorts of genetic modification. The thought of GMO cannabis might be an unpleasant one for many, but it's already becoming a reality and looks set to dominate the industrial cultivation scene in the future.

Fortunately however, as we have seen with other agricultural produce, negative public perceptions of genetic modification has resulted in a large organic market for naturally grown alternates, and should GMO cannabis become a reality, it's almost certain that the same organic market will exist for cannabis products, too.

The Most Common Cannabis-Derived Cannabinoids

The Most Common Cannabis-Derived Cannabinoids

We recently broke down the importance of trichomes in the cannabis experience so we’re ready to go a bit deeper in today’s blog. You’ve likely heard the term “cannabinoid” thrown around and maybe even have a vague idea of what it means. But many of you are probably asking yourself “what are cannabinoids?” And more importantly, how do these compounds relate to your experience? Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that have been found to occur in cannabis both naturally and through chemical reactions. We’re going to take a closer look at what modern science understands about the cannabinoids that appear in the cannabis plant. Make sure to stick around until the end of the blog for a list of the most well known cannabinoids and their purported benefits! 


How Many Cannabinoids Are Known to Exist? 


Though the name “cannabinoid” may lead you to believe these compounds are unique to cannabis, several cannabinoids have been found to exist in other plants. Yet cannabis has its own unique cannabinoids too. While it is widely regarded that there are 113 known cannabinoids created by the cannabis plant, that number only alludes to the potential. Scientists struggle to find traceable amounts of certain cannabinoids in cannabis plant specimens and, with the federal government still doing more to prevent than support official research efforts, it’s easy for new cannabinoids to remain hidden. Though scientists have identified over 100 cannabinoids that occur within the cannabis plant, only a handful have received anything resembling meaningful study and attention. 


The Most Commonly Recognized Cannabinoids in Cannabis


Many with a casual understanding of cannabis would be quick to name THC and CBD as the most well known cannabinoids produced by cannabis, but these cannabinoids are not directly produced by the plant. Rather the process of decarboxylation is necessary to create the chemical reaction that transforms THCA and CBDA, the naturally occurring cannabinoid acids, into the highly sought after cannabinoids so popularly related to cannabis consumption. It’s no coincidence that the resulting compounds from THCA and CBDA are the most well known. They’re also the most populous in the cannabis plant. But other somewhat well known cannabinoid acids joining them include CBGA and CBCA. While consuming cannabinoid acids will not produce the same effects as those of the activated compounds, the minor amount of research conducted on cannabinoids has shown them to have their own unique benefits. Many of these benefits relate directly to how the cannabis plant directly benefits from the cannabinoids. For example, some cannabinoids may repel pests or act in other defensive roles. They even have some impact on the medicinal qualities of the cannabis plant, though not enough research has been gathered to determine to what extent. 


How We Interact with Cannabinoids


We can’t simply examine a cannabinoid to understand a blanket effect it would have. That’s because the way our bodies interact with cannabinoids depends on which of our cannabinoid receptors is bonding with the given compound. The human endocannabinoid system relies on two known receptors commonly referred to as CB1 and CB2 receptors, though there is at least a 3rd theorized receptor often called GPR55. Most of the CB1 receptors are located in the brain while most CB2 receptors are located in the body. Therefore,the elicited responses that our minds and bodies have to cannabinoids relies greatly on their bonding to a specific type of receptor. With the vague general concept of how cannabinoids interact with us on a physiological level only coming into theory within the last 40 or so years, it’s little wonder that we still have a long way to go toward understanding cannabinoids that occur in the cannabis plant. However, it is believed that the numerous purported medicinal benefits of cannabis are influenced by these cannabinoids. 


Different Types of Cannabinoids and Their Benefits


Now that we have a general understanding of cannabinoids, let’s take a look at some of the most commonly identified cannabinoids along with their purported benefits as supported by the scant research that has been federally permitted so far. Again, the woefully outdated federal classification of cannabis has prevented much-needed official research into these cannabinoids. We’ve included naturally occurring cannabinoid acids as well as cannabinoids activated by common chemical reactions. 


THC

  • Pain reduction
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anxiety relief
  • Antidepressant
  • Promotion of euphoria
  • Hindrance of tumor growth

CBD

  • Treatment of chronic pain
  • Anxiety relief
  • Antidepressant
  • Reduction of epileptic seizure frequency and severity
  • Reduction of the psychoactive effects of THC

CBG

  • Treatment of glaucoma
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Nausea reduction
  • Bladder control

CBC

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anxiety relief
  • Anti-depressant
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Promotion of cell growth
  • Treatment of chronic pain

CBN

  • Sleep aid
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Pain reduction
  • Neuroprotective properties

THCV

    • Diabetes prevention
  • Weight loss/appetite suppressant 
    • Bone growth stimulant
    • Reduction of panic attacks

    CBDV

    • Reduction of seizures
    • Neuropathy pain relief
    • Nausea reduction
    • Autism spectrum disorder treatment

    THCA

    • Treatment of lupus
    • Treatment of arthritis
    • Nausea reduction
    • Reduction of seizures
    • Appetite stimulant
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • Neuroprotective properties
    • Potential cancer treatment
    • Potential Alzheimer’s disease treatment

    CBDA

    • Anxiety relief
    • Antidepressant
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • Nausea reduction
    • Sleep aid
    • Potential treatment of psychotic disorders
    • Potential as a breast cancer treatment

    CBGA

    • Inflammatory bowel disease treatment
    • Diabetes treatment
    • Metabolic disease treatment
    • Neuroprotection
    • Potential as a colon cancer treatment