Many watched with delight as Prop 64 was approved in California this past November. Others had mixed reactions provoked by fear that big business would sweep in and wipe out the small growers and sellers who had been steadfastly, and quietly, supplying our weed for the last several decades.
They weren’t totally wrong to be concerned; the industry is taking off like wildfire.
Take a look at the numbers: Colorado raked in nearly a billion dollars in the first 10 months of 2016. Forbes Magazine projected the cannabis market could grow 700 percent by 2020, and just about the straightest banking newsletter on earth placed marijuana as the third fasting growing industry in the country (after 3-D printing and drones!).
So how does one keep big business out of a traditionally cozy industry, even though its coziness was partly a product of operating under the radar?
One scientist in Portland went off recently on one of the biggest corporations—Monsanto, creators of genetically modified “frankenfood” and the deadly weed killer Roundup, to name just a few reasons why Bloomberg News rated it as America’s third most hated company (after BP and Bank of America).
Much ink has been spilled about the company we all love to hate, and now, well-known cannabis researcher, Mowgli Holmes, has joined the chorus.
Holmes is the chief scientific officer and co-founder of Phylos Bioscience, a Portland-based startup that is sequencing the DNA of every existent strain of marijuana through genomic mapping. So far their team has documented more than 1,000 strains, making it the largest database of marijuana in the world.
“We fucking hate Monsanto,” Holmes told Vocativ “If we can’t find a way to create a craft, artisanal industry, where lots of little people who really lavish love on interesting plants can be involved, and we just get this Anheuser-Busch industry, it’s going to suck.”
Rumors that Monsanto created the first genetically modified strain of weed and was just waiting for the legal green light to develop it has been shot down by Snopes, but not before it went viral and sparked outrage.
Holmes has said in the past that one of the primary goals for creating the Cannabis Genome Project, which focuses on learning more about the biology of cannabis, is to create a genetic blueprint for marijuana that allows it to maintain its “public domain” status, and ultimately, “piss off Monsanto” by preventing them from marketing certain strains exclusively, which the agribusiness company is also widely reviled for doing.
By mapping the marijuana genome, Mowgli could change the weed game and help growers. He says the work will bring transparency to the market and enable even the mom-and-pop growers to create new “crazy, wild weed.”
Holmes told Vocativ that he hopes new strains will help smaller businesses stay afloat while the market grows.
So far, it looks like Holmes and his researchers are ahead of the game. When they complete their mission, they’ll be able to take any sample of pot DNA and compare it with the most robust database of cannabis strains ever assembled, bringing unprecedented clarity to the market, from the grow to the dispensary, he told Newsweek.
“There’s a whole new industry exploding all around it. 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.”
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