Why biotech firms are jumping into the cannabis business

marijuana image
Image: Saint Peters

As biotechnology embraces the legal cannabis industry, not a few of its executives are grappling with a dilemma: what will it mean if they make the drug much easier to get?

So far, 33 US states have legalized medical marijuana, and 10 of these also permit recreational use ….

A dozen synthetic-biology companies, including Amyris, Ginkgo BioworksHyasynthFarmako, and Intrexon, say they are moving the cannabis genes into bacteria, oozing algae, or fermenting vats of yeast.


It remains to be seen whether biotech reactors can really make cannabinoids more cheaply than the fast-growing plant (it’s called “weed” for a reason). As well as THC, the psychoactive chemical that gets people high, and CBD, which has been approved in the US for treating certain kinds of epilepsy, marijuana contains another 100 or so far less concentrated cannabinoid molecules, which remain little studied because the plant has been illegal.

Related article:  Science deniers stay home: Synthetic biology crucial to human missions to Mars

Cheap, pure supplies of cannabinoids could lead to new types of medicine and “wellness” products but also—if they’re added to things like soft drinks, cookies, and vaping fluids—to a big change in who can get high, when, and how.

Read full, original post: How biotech went from “no way” to payday in the cannabis business

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Genetics Unzipped
Infographic: Deaths from COVID-19 are far higher than reported estimates

Infographic: Deaths from COVID-19 are far higher than reported estimates

More than 2.8 million people have lost their lives due to the pandemic, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis ...

Gilles-Éric Séralini: Activist professor and face of anti-GMO industry

The French biologist and his research team--funded by the Rodale ...
vandana shiva

Vandana Shiva: ‘Rock Star’ of GMO protest movement has anti-science history

In a 2012 interview, Bill Moyers referred to Vandana Shiva as ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend