Marijuana’s Secrets Unlocked By DNA Sequencing

Marijuana has joined the ranks of the human genome* and the creatures of Jurassic Park in having its DNA sequenced. This means that the biological code of marijuana has been completely revealed, which may offer valuable insights for scientists interested in isolating its positive features.

The DNA sequencing was performed by Medicinal Genomics (source: Bloomberg News). The company was founded by Kevin McKernan, a former member of the Human Genome Project, specifically to decode marijuana’s DNA. The goal is to tap into the therapeutic properties of marijuana so as to create treatments for cancer and pain that will help patients without getting them high. Marijuana has been shown to be useful (for example, a compound in marijuana has been shown to reduce the size of tumors in rats) but its negative and psychoactive properties have led people to shy away from it as a legitimate medication.

One of the goals of the project is to learn enough about marijuana to selectively breed the plant. These new strains of marijuana would ideally lack the psychoactive properties of marijuana as it exists today. According to Scientific American’s Nature News blog, McKernan sees the sequencing as an important advancement into the still growing medical marijuana market.

Deriving useful medicines from illegal drugs is not a new art – morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone are all derived from opium. Many cultures around the world use what we classify as illegal substances to treat illness. At the moment marijuana is somewhat unique in that a marijuana drug test will not come up as positive for a variety of medicines and other legal products (only the HIV medication Sustiva registers as a positive on our test).

Medical marijuana has been legalized in a number of states because of its effectiveness as a medicine. Hopefully the sequencing of its genome can lead to further development of marijuana’s therapeutic properties and the improvement of a great many lives.

* Well, a sketch of it. You can read more about the Human Genome Project here.

One single comment

  1. Ron says:

    The fact that pot is still illegal in the US, is symbolic of not only the complete failure of the people in charge to recognize evidence…….But also the complete power the pharmaceutical industry has over the people.