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

Freezing rain warning in effect for B.C. Southern Interior

Environment Canada issued the freezing rain warning for most of the Southern Interior Tuesday morning

Rumble In The Rockies brings live boxing back to Fernie

Local boxer, Dylan Mitchell takes first career win at home

Smiles all around as province announces emergency ward funding

$2.1 million to go to much-needed upgrades

As avalanche danger grows, BC heli-skiers exercise caution

Company relies on guides’ decades of experience

Lumby supports the vote for Fernie Hockeyville idea

Okanagan village that won the 2016 crown backs Saskatchewan call to vote for Fernie, B.C.

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Sunwing vacation passengers left at Abbotsford airport

YXX staffers receive praise for help to passengers; airline criticized

BC Liberal leadership candidate stops in Cranbrook

Andrew Wilkinson drums up local support as race enters final weeks.

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag for Canada at 2018 Olympics

The pair earned a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

Diplomacy on agenda at North Korea summit in Vancouver

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting Tuesday to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Kids chained in Calif. house of horrors; parents arrested

Authorities say an emaciated teenager led deputies to home where her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions

‘Reprehensible’: Trudeau abortion policy raises ire of U.S. right

“This man is reprehensible,” tweeted former White House staffer Sebastian Gorka

‘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.

Most Read