A cannabis biotech firm is using artificial intelligence to breed new strains of high-THC bud for Israel's thriving medical marijuana market.
Canonic, a medical cannabis company based in Rehovot, first announced its dalliance with AI two years ago. Most modern cannabis producers already take genetics into account when breeding new plants, but Canonic is using a unique AI engine invented by its parent company, Evogene, to advance the process. This engine, known as GeneRator AI, uses proprietary genetic markers to identify existing cannabis strains that could be crossbred to create even more potent offspring.
The company unveiled its first two strains of AI-assisted weed, saddled with the boring names of G200 and G150, in 2021. These strains only topped out at 19% THC, though, so the company refined their process to breed even stronger bud. This year, Canonic has announced six new strains that all contain 23 to 24% THC content.
Each of these new strains was also bred to produce specific terpene profiles, and they have even received more stoner-friendly names: Synergy, Combo, Mosaic, Two Stars, Mash Kush and Blend Kush. GeneRator even helped the company make a strain of bud with an exact THC content of 24.4%, which is the maximum percentage allowed under Israeli law.
“Utilizing Canonic’s and Evogene’s advanced technologies for selecting novel genetic markers allowed us to accelerate and direct the development of our advanced cannabis varieties,” said Canonic CEO Eyal Ronen in a statement. “We are very proud to have completed the launch of six new products in the Israeli market, and we expect sales growth in 2023. Looking ahead, we will continue the development of our third-generation products, particularly with selecting new and unique terpenes. Furthermore, we intend to sell our products to broader markets, starting with Europe.”
It's no surprise that this new technology is being developed in Israel, which has long been a leader in global cannabis research. Even without assistance from AI, other Israeli startups are using genetic technology to breed cannabis plants that have a natural resistance to powdery mildew. Other companies have worked to create Covid treatments, medicinal pills that combine weed with mushrooms, metered-dose inhalers, and much more.
Using AI to help grow weed may seem pretty weird, but Israeli companies are using it for even more unusual purposes. Some biotech firms are employing this tech to help inexperienced farmers grow better vegetables at home, and other companies are actually using AI to help them breed black soldier flies as an alternative food source.
Of course, AI is everywhere these days, and Israel isn't the only country to apply this tech to the cannabis space. Facebook already uses AI to identify images of cannabis as part of its unending campaign to censor any and all weed-related content. Smaller companies have employed this tech to pick the ideal strains for medical marijuana patients, and many stoners are using popular new AI-powered apps to create weed-themed art.
Cover image via