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Canadian Researchers Have Discovered 30 Individual Flavor-Producing Genes in Cannabis

Scientists are hopeful that the terpene breakthrough will lead to better product standardization in the cannabis industry.

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Finding the weed that’s right for you isn’t always easy. If you don’t have access to legal weed in your home state/country getting your hands on a specific strain can be damn-near impossible, and even if you do have a dispensary around the corner, one store’s stash of Platinum OG could look, smell and smoke completely different from another.

Thankfully, researchers in Canada are working to make cannabis strains and flavors more standardized and easily identifiable - and it’s all thanks to science.

According to CTV News, a team lead by Prof. Jorg Bohlmann at the University of British Columbia has isolated 30 terpene-producing genes within the cannabis genome. The genes are ascribed to specific flavors and aromas and will theoretically lead to more approachable, standardized strain classifications, similar to the varieties seen in the wine industry (OK, hopefully a little less confusing than wine).

The team has identified the 30 genes, and they’ve seen some of the combinations that create our favorite skunky and piney buds, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Bohlmann compared the undertaking to a symphony 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," Bohlmann told CTV. "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, 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."

And while cannabis cultivators have been splicing genes and reproducing strains for decades, the lack of a regulated industry has led to inconsistencies and a whole lot of black market dealers willing to straight-up lie about what they’re selling.

"This is largely because much of the cannabis industry has been in an illegal space," Bohlmann said. "People have been growing their own different strains wherever, garden sheds or basements."

As Canada prepares for full-scale legalization next year, the University of British Columbia research team is trying to make sure that the prohibition’s past doen’t follow cannabis into the new era of open acceptance.