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“Everyone probably hears online that no one ever dies from cannabis, but there have been cases of people dying from what grows on cannabis,” says Kevin McKernan, who founded Medicinal Genomics in 2011 with the goal of sequencing the cannabis genome. In doing so, he quickly recognized that there were microbes on the plant that needed to be screened for. Since then, Medicinal Genomics has been developing quantitative PCR tools that use DNA to measure microbial risks in a way that traditional methods have been unable.

So, what’s wrong with the traditional Petri dish method, which is the primary method used in the food industry today? For one, we don’t know how to culture about 99 percent of the microbes that exist; this is problematic for the Petri dish method as it relies fundamentally on culturing microbes. In addition, many of the microbes that are most harmful do not grow in large quantities, making it nearly impossible to identify or quantify colonies of microbes via culture techniques. To address these issues, McKernan believes that species-specific testing is needed, which can only be done using DNA-based quantitative PCR.

Medicinal Genomics also sequences cannabis genomes outside of the microbiome, which is helping breeders to not only identify plants that are optimal for breeding, but to also prove that a plant existed at a particular time, thereby protecting themselves against cannabis patents that might emerge in the future. Medicinal Genomics is protecting breeders in this way by hashing and stashing cannabis genomes on the Dash blockchain.

To learn more, visit medicinalgenomics.com.

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