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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Playgrounds to reopen across the Okanagan on June 1

After nearly two months closure, playgrounds are set to reopen

100 miles in 24 hours: a B.C. man’s mission to support the less fortunate

Merritt’s Darius Sam felt he needed to help his community after an encounter with a starving woman

COLUMN: Diminished Parliament means diminished accountability for Canadians

Bloc Quebecois and NDP use resumption of parliament as bargaining chip

Kelowna couple pedalling past loss of sight

Pauline and Jim Marshall said it’s important to be patient with each other

Possible Kermode Bear spotted in West Kootenays

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

Revelstoke resident finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Okanagan-shot film “The Color Rose” wins two cinematography awards

Locations in the Okanagan were used such as; The Casorso residence, BNA, Father Pandosy, Venture Academy and Idabel Lake Resort

Kids raise $10,000 to feed Kamloops wildlife

Bottle drive initially set out to raise $2,000 to feed the animals at the wildlife park

COLUMN: Plate hate has no place in B.C.

B.C. transplant still drives with red plates, but hopes her car will be safe from COVID hate

Driver damages Shuswap playground after alleged pellet gun shooting

RCMP report vehicle drove through Memorial Park before coming to a stop

POLL: Drinks in the park in Vernon?

City councillor wonders if allowing drinks in public places may help local businesses

Kelowna’s Rock the Lake officially postponed until 2021

The new dates have been scheduled for August 6-8, 2021

Most Read