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Thread: Cannabis/Pot Grown with Microbes - wanna smoke it?

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    Diva wildwest08's Avatar
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    Question Cannabis/Pot Grown with Microbes - wanna smoke it?

    Constallation Brands - they think so - to name a few

    Anheuser-Busch - they think so, too - to name a few


    Investors cheered as brewing companies made moves into the nascent and increasingly deregulated cannabis industry in 2018. Canopy Growth (NYSE: CGC) won a $4 billion investment from beer giant Constellation Brands. Cronos Group (NASDAQ: CRON) linked up with Anheuser-Busch InBev to research beverages containing cannabinoids including THC and CBD. Other consumer food brands are sure to follow.

    While the brewing industry represents an important source of capital for the fledgling cannabis market, brewing science may represent an important source of future production capacity of cannabinoid compounds. Major cannabis producers ranging from Cronos to OrganiGram Holdings (NASDAQOTH: OGRMF) have partnered with analytical biotech labs exploring how to ditch inefficient plants grown in greenhouses in favor of genetically engineered microbes brewed in bioreactors.

    It could prove to be an important relationship for both industries if it works, so a pioneering expert weighed in on whether bioreactors might disrupt the cannabis ecosystem. Kevin Chen is the CEO and cofounder of Canadian startup Hyasynth Biologicals, which has been working on microbial cannabinoids for years.

    The promise of biotech in cannabinoids

    The idea floating around is simple: Take the cannabinoid genes from plants, insert them into a microbe, tweak them to optimize function, and use fermentation to produce large volumes of cannabinoids or cannabis resins with specific ratios of cannabinoids.

    On paper, utilizing industrial biotech offers several notable advantages over plant-based production. Indoor cultivation of cannabis may only allow four to six harvests per year, whereas a single bioreactor can provide more than 23 harvests per year. While a 1 million square-foot greenhouse might yield only 16 metric tons of cannabinoids per year, a fermentation facility of the same footprint and investment could generate in the neighborhood of 1,000 metric tons annually, which is why microbial fermentation has been such an attractive technology for food, pharmaceutical, and industrial chemicals for so long.

    Just getting cannabinoids and resins from plants requires a costly extraction step. And then the THC content of a product varies wildly from one harvest to the next -- not ideal for patients who rely on specific daily doses. Microbial production could directly produce cannabinoids with less intensive extraction steps and resins with specific cannabinoid content. It would also be much easier for healthcare regulators to ensure quality and safety of products in such a facility.


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