A biotechnology company is exploring ways to use Genetically Modified tobacco plants as a source of medical cannabis, a breakthrough that could fundamentally alter the way both tobacco and cannabis are produced and consumed.
The initiative behind Genetically Modified tobacco
22nd Century Group Inc., a biotech company based in Clarence, N.Y., announced the initiative on Thursday, May 12.
Here’s how it would work: The company seeks to modify tobacco plants so as to increase each plant’s level of medically-beneficial cannabinoids, the compounds inherent within cannabis plants that are widely believed to offer significant medical benefits to patients.
The company’s vice president of Plant Biotechnology, Paul Rushton, announced the initiative, stressing its potential capacity to change the ways in which cannabis and tobacco are produced and used.
“Our new laboratories will provide 22nd Century with the in-house capability to develop important new enabling technologies and gene discovery in both tobacco and cannabis that could revolutionize both the medical marijuana and smoking cessation industries.”
Rushton went on to say that the company’s initiative was motivated in part because of the continued federal ban on cannabis, which requires creative thinking on cannabinoid production.
22nd Century has heretofore focused on ways of engineering tobacco so as to increase or decrease the plant’s nicotine levels. The company retains a worldwide licensing agreement with Vancouver-based Anandia Laboratories Inc., which grants it exclusive rights in the U.S. to cannabinoid-production genes in the cannabis plant.
According to Rushton, this new initiative of infusing tobacco products with cannabinoids could lead to greater technological and production breakthroughs.
“The company believes this tobacco-based approach could ‘leap-frog’ existing cannabis biotechnology and yield commercial medical products far more rapidly.”
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