The Cannabis Genome And Its Future

Welcome to the year 2068, where semi-agrarian societies ride triumphantly on genetically cloned wooly mammoths while smoking the finest herbs, crafted all the way down to the subatomic level. You may be a little dazed, but don’t panic. Take solace in knowing things are actually pretty great. Nationalism is now a superficial trend you can only find at a Hot Topic, and the use of prisons has virtually given way to empathic virtual simulation therapy.

You look sick, perhaps you’re experiencing shock. Go ahead, sit down; but try and mind that bust of Elon Musk, please.

No, as it turns out, cannabis doesn’t comes from outer space. We asked our friends on Alpha Centauri, and they actually had no idea what we were talking about until Buck Nelson, commander of the Unitarian Intergalactic Earth Protectorate, famously handed Prince Galacknok a freshly rolled joint of Oaxacan Highland in 2048 B.C.

Oaxacan Highland went extinct back in the mid-20th century due to over-hybridizing, a byproduct of a very archaic breeding practice popularized during Global Prohibition. It wasn’t until a few years, before the first intergalactic smoke sesh took place, when geneticists discovered a small piece of genetic material trapped in amber and revived it using a genetic engineering tool called CRISPR.

Finding and reviving older cannabis varieties is nothing new. In 2016, archaeologists found a plant stash placed “like a burial shroud” around a man who died 2,500 years ago, in the country you know as China. Serious advances in genetic engineering were occurring simultaneously while these ancient discoveries were being made. It was only a matter of time before the scientific community was able to find a sample preserved well enough for DNA replication.

CRISPR stands for “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.” Composed primarily of a wide range of beneficial bacteria, these ancient, naturally occurring defense mechanisms accurately cut and edit active RNA strands within any organism’s genome. What followed was the rise of designer human babies, pets, and even cannabis during the mid-21st century.

Using CRISPR in cannabis began after Professor Leor Williams, from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, proposed using this gene editing tool in 2017. Funded by the University’s Multidisciplinary Center for Cannabinoid Research, Dr. Williams and her team began manipulating non-transgenic or non-commercial cannabis varieties, into “desirable mutations.”

In a very short time, Dr. Williams calibrated this new method, resulting in brand new varieties that target specific areas of the “cannabinoid biosynthesis pathway.” For the first time, humans took an active role in controlling terpene and cannabinoid ratios to produce desired effects, thus rendering synthetic pharmaceuticals nearly obsolete.  

You can see all the neat things the Multidisciplinary Center for Cannabinoid Research is up to in your current timeline here. We at Tetra hope you take the time to expand on your cannabis knowledge, because we feel it’s important to consider a broader context when thinking about this wonderful, beautiful plant that nature has bestowed upon us. If you’d like to find out more about CRISPR, please take a look at this video created by Kurzgesagt.


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