Editing medical cannabis

CanBreed CEO Ido Marga

The Israeli company CanBreed announced that it is ready to edit medical grade cannabis. They aim to develop enhanced seeds, endowed with resistance to powdery mildew for example. But there’s plenty of science to do: despite being a multibillion-dollar business, cannabis can be considered a neglected plant from a research point of view.

Legal obstacles and prejudices have deterred geneticists for a long time (the first cannabis genome was mapped in 2011). But a growing interest in its pharmacological properties (see the National Academies report) and the green light for recreational use in many US states may help unlock the hidden potential. Cannabis diversity is vast and breeders can use it to generate new varieties optimized for the production of fibers or biofuels.

To go deeper into the matter, this special issue of Critical Reviews may be of interest to CRISPeR Frenzy readers. As a digression, you may listen to “food philosopher” Michael Pollan praising cannabis abilities as a plant.

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