If you knew that based on your DNA, one cup of coffee would give you the jitters, would that change how much coffee you drink in a day?
DNA Labs is now helping people understand how they might react to cannabis (and sure, coffee too—they have a test for that) with an easy-to-understand genetic kit called TestMyTolerance. It provides useful information about your body’s response to cannabis, like: “what does your DNA say about your sensitivity to THC and CBD?” or “what is your risk for cannabis-induced psychosis?”
Dr. Aaron Goldman, Chief Science Officer at DNA Labs, tells Herb that the time is now to establish a healthy relationship and understanding of cannabis from a scientific standpoint. For example, if you know you aren’t getting relief through CBD, this test would shed some light on why it’s not working. For example, maybe you need a higher dose or need to be exposed for longer.
“A lot of people haven’t used cannabis at all, or since the 70s, when things were a lot different, or maybe they tried it once and had a bad experience. But I think they are interested again in knowing how their bodies will react, which will take away the anxiety of, ‘will this make me crazy?’” he says. “If your mode of taking cannabis is smoking, it hits you quickly. If you feel you’re taking too much, you stop. But as we get into oils and edibles, it will be much more important to know how the body reacts.”
When compared to 23andMe—an at-home saliva kit that can shed light on your genetics and ancestry—Goldman hesitates: “what we’re doing is slightly different.” While they both use DNA to compile personalized, genetically-relevant health data, the similarities end there.
23andMe’s business model, he says, is working with big pharma to use the information they collect (hundreds of thousands of DNA markers) to find targets for developing new drugs.
“They would ask their customers: who gets motion sickness? And a couple hundred thousand people will respond. By comparison, the biggest academic studies might only get 3,000 responses. With that information, they can come up with drug targets specifically for motion sickness. It’s data mining. That’s where the power is.”
TestMyTolerance looks at a few hundred DNA markers to determine what strain does what and for what ailment. One of their business models, when it comes to pharmacies, is to arm the people behind the counter with the knowledge of what strains to recommend.
“If someone has a high risk for psychosis and metabolizes THC quickly, they will know what to do,” he says.
Their other business model is working with licensed producers in Canada to better understand what strains are being used, and even make growing decisions based on demand.