In 1978 The biotech firm Genentech genetically modified the bacteria E. coli to produce human insulin.
Today, one company has taken this idea of producing chemicals from E. coli and translated it to cannabis. InMed Pharmaceuticals, a Canadian firm, recently announced they have manufactured CBD and many other plant-based cannabinoids without ever planting a single cannabis seed.
According to an interview for Merry Jane site (article here), one of the main tools at Inmed is their database. “The first pillar is a bioinformatics database we use to match the potential therapeutic effects of each individual cannabinoid with the respective diseases”. Studying how CBD affects each different disease means they can then decide if it is needed or not. The next step is the biosynthesis.
“If we look through the list of 90-plus cannabinoids, and we determine, for example, that number 85 may work against prostate cancer, that’s interesting, but no one can economically make number 85, and you can’t extract it from the plant because it’s in such a small amount – it could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars per gram.”
“InMed has created a fermentation process where we can manufacture any one of the over-90 cannabinoids, and we think the cost is going to be very competitive with whatever else comes along. The final cannabinoids made with this biosynthesis process are identical to those found in nature.”
They are still working to make the complicated biosynthesis process simpler. The current process involves replicating the cannabis plant pathways inside the E. coli, but they still have to fuse it with other gene sequences before the E. coli can actually read it.
The main point of all this is that they are close to creating a successful copy of the cannabis plant made from E. Coli bacteria without using a real plant at all. Which means that the production and commerce of these products will not restricted by cannabis laws and regulations, thus opening a new way for medical cannabis in the world. Same benefits as cannabis sans the stigma.