The Man Mapping the Marijuana Genome Is Changing the Weed Game

Photo Credit: Lynn Johnson/National Geographic Creative

Photo Credit: Lynn Johnson/National Geographic Creative

At Phylos Bioscience in Oregon, scientist Mowgli Holmes is working to map the DNA of every kind of cannabis in the world, something that could completely change the marijuana industry. As it stands, the chemical makeup of marijuana is hidden behind misleading labels with catchy names. After Holmes' database is complete, any sample of marijuana strain can be entered into the database, bringing clarity to the consumer. After collecting this data, Holmes will create a testing program "that will allow growers and dispensaries to stamp 'certified' on the products they sell to consumers, who can then have a better idea of what they're using and can fine-tune their relationship with different strains." Medical marijuana patients will be able to make informed decisions when choosing new strains for treating their symptoms.

What makes Holmes' research unique, he explains, is that "here, we have an entire organism that there's basically no body of knowledge on... This doesn't happen in science, where you have a plant like this that's been cordoned off from research." Holmes collects global samples and studies its DNA without handling the plant itself, which is how he is able to conduct such rigorous research without legal troubles due to marijuana's federal classification as Schedule I. Holmes has already collected almost 2,000 specimens and entered 1,500 into a software program that creates visual representations resembling constellations. The strains appear as dots, and the distances between the dots reveal how closely related they are to each other. The information will be handed over to the Open Cannabis Project, where it will remain in public domain.

Read this feature on News Week to learn more about Holmes' work that's revolutionizing the cannabis industry. This information has been approved by our Chief Medical Officer.