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

O’Reilly trial scheduled to start January 15 for Anahim Lake murders

O’Reilly is charged with first-degree murder

School District 49 to re-open Nusatsum Elementary in September 2018

SD49 says increasing enrollment is driving its decision to re-open the school

Red Cross funding available to local residents of Bella Coola and Hagensborg

The Red Cross is administering up to $900 in initial funding to help assist Bella Coola Valley residents

B.C. boy denied $19,000-per-month drug to ease ‘crippling pain’ for 3rd time

Sooke mom Jillian Lanthier says son Landen Alexa has been forgotten about by Premier John Horgan

‘I shouldn’t have to have a husband:’ Winnipeg woman criticizes men-only club

Jodi Moskal discovered the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club continues to ban women as members, as it has done since opening in 1909.

Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

The false alarm came two days after Hawaii’s emergency management department sent a mistaken warning

Toronto girl dies after being pinned between vehicles while picked up from school

Police say an SUV with no driver in it rolled forward and pinned the girl against her father’s car

Senior randomly stabbed in B.C. mall food court

Woman arrested after victim, 71, suffers serious injuries

B.C. Liberal hopefuls begin final leadership push

Five MLAs, one outsider pitch policies to party members

Vancouver Island marijuana producer bought by Aphria in $230M deal

Aphria’s annual production forecast increases to 230,000 kgs

UPDATED: ‘Young, innocent’ teen hit during Vancouver shootout dies

15-year-old Coquitlam boy was in a car driving by the scene

Ontario man charged with selling Canadian’s usernames and passwords

Ontario man ran site that peddled billions of pieces of personal data: RCMP

Most Read