Genetically Modified Cannabis: Is it Safe?

Genetically modified agriculture crops are widespread, especially in North America. It is estimated that as much as 70% of food products in stores contain at least one ingredient that was derived from a genetically modified crop.

Selective breeding has occurred in the cannabis cultivation community for decades, however, selective breeding is not the same as genetically modifying a crop.

With selective breeding, cannabis cultivators choose strains of cannabis with desirable traits and cross pollinate them with other strains that possess desirable traits.

That is much different than genetically modifying cannabis, which involves altering genetic material using genetic engineering techniques.

Biotech engineers in Israel are reportedly working on developing a genetically modified version of the cannabis plant, which is still largely uncharted territory.

What is Cann10 EpiGen?

A cannabis company called Cann10, which has offices in 10 countries including in Israel, has entered into an agreement with an Israeli biotech company called Epigenetics to form a joint company called Cann10 EpiGen.

The company’s primary focus will be on developing a genetically modified strain of cannabis that is easier to cultivate. 

Cann10 EpiGen is reportedly using new technology called epigenetics at a farm run by Seach Medical Group in Israel.

When epigenetic technology was applied to various crops like tomatoes and corn, it boosted the modified plants’ photosynthesis level by 100, which had a significant impact on yield.

Whether or not that proves to be the case for cannabis is something that will have to be seen as time goes by and researchers release their findings. Results from the research are expected to be released in six months.

Ongoing Concerns About GMO Cannabis

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are controversial to many consumers both inside of the cannabis community and outside of the cannabis community.

People on the supportive end of the spectrum will point to research that has found that GMOs are safe for human consumption. 

However, on the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty of people that feel that GMOs need to be researched further before credible safety declarations are made.

Concerns are not just reserved for consumption either. The potential ecological impact of using GMOs is another major concern for some consumers.

GMO cannabis creates somewhat unique concerns due to the fact that people combust and inhale cannabis, which is not the case for other agriculture crops like tomatoes and corn.

Hopefully, more research is performed to determine will greater certainty if GMO cannabis is specifically safe or not when consumed in all ways that are popular with consumers, including smoking.


  • Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference and has blogged about cannabis since January 2010.

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