Taste standards for pot are coming: UBC study

Marijuana could soon have flavours as standardized as shiraz and pinot gris are for wine

Consumers can trust what varieties of wine taste like regardless of the store they buy it from, and they could soon have similar expectations for strains of marijuana, say researchers at the University of British Columbia.

Prof. Jorg Bohlmann and a team of researchers have found 30 genes within the cannabis genome that determine the aroma and flavour of the plant.

The findings, published in the journal Plos One, are the first step toward creating flavour standards that can be replicated.

Bohlmann said with the legalization of marijuana on the horizon, there is a real need for standardization of the product when it comes to flavours and the strength of psychoactive compounds.

READ: Liberals could introduce marijuana bill in April

Right now, he said, although names of strains can somewhat reflect the flavour, consumers can’t be sure what they’re getting.

“This is largely because much of the cannabis industry has been in an illegal space,” said Bohlmann, a professor of forest science and botany. “People have been growing their own different strains wherever, garden sheds or basements.”

He said standards could be created that follow the wine industry, where the types of grapes and effects of climate and terrain on the crop’s flavour produce specific and replicable varieties of wine.

Researching chemistry behind the flavours of marijuana hasn’t happened largely because of the legal restrictions. Bohlmann said it isn’t easy for researchers to get approval for work with the drug, but he said he hopes that with legalization, the process will be easier to navigate.

WATCH: B.C. to develop own regulations on driving while high on marijuana, minister says

Bohlmann collaborated with researchers at the cannabis testing company Anandia Labs to study the flavour-related genes in cannabis.

The 30 genes they found produce molecular compounds called terpenes that create specific flavours, such as lemon or pine. Terpenes can also be found in other plants and essential oils. Not all 30 genes are active in every cannabis plant, resulting in variations.

Bohlmann likened the genes to musicians in an orchestra.

“Think of all the marvellous music you can create and all the variations you can create with 30 individual musicians that you can individually call up or play all together,” he said.

More research is underway to determine subsets within the 30 genes and compare different strains to figure out how and why they are activated.

“What we know now (is) who are all the players in the symphony orchestra, but we don’t quite know yet what everyone exactly does,” he said. “And now we need to find out who is actually the conductor and how is the conductor working with his orchestra in terms of calling up one of the players and leaving others more in the background.”

Once those details are determined, he said it can inform the varieties and practices plant breeders use in the future.

@Givetash

Linda Givetash, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Houston introduces Change program

Program offers lifestyle intervention to patients with metabolic syndrome

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Property sales up in Houston in 2017

Average selling price of single-family homes has also increased

Alexandra Park, undeveloped wonderland

Alexandra Park is located behind the Houston Leisure Facility at the end… Continue reading

Public’s help needed with tick survey

Tick infestations can directly impact the survival rates of moose

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

B.C. commuters vote to rename bus service to ‘Jeff’

The company asked and the people of Facebook answered

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Students on the Kelowna campus were unaware of resources and worried about lack of communication

Opinion: Dare to be smarter

Just say no works for more than just substance abuse

‘Sing Me a Song’ about B.C. for a chance at $1,000 contest prize

Entries due by March 30 for lieutenant-governor’s British Columbia-themed competition

Facing reality of death, B.C. man learns real meaning of life

Even while preparing for the end, something inside Keven Drews won’t let him stop living

Most Read