Casia Lanier   |   August 19, 2022

Cannabis Testing Kits: Finding the Best Products for Consumers

At-home DNA kits provide access to individual familial and genetic profiles. The cannabis industry uses the same technology to create the perfect cannabis experience for consumers.
Casia is a freelance writer based in NYC and Madrid. She is passionate about promoting emerging scientific and technological advancements in cannabis for a healthier future.

Cannabis can be a powerful tool for reducing stress, anxiety, and epilepsy symptoms. But sometimes, high THC intake can cause adverse effects, such as paranoia, mood swings, and low blood pressure, among other things. A 2017 study found that healthy adults who consumed 12.5 mg or more of THC were more likely to experience those adverse side effects.

And it's not just THC that determines how our bodies react to cannabis consumption. Among the over 100 known cannabinoids, countless interactions between genetics, environment, and brain chemistry are being discovered daily. These interactions can differentiate between cannabis acting as a healing therapy or a toxic additive for consumers.

Today, there is a new approach to addressing this issue and providing scientific methodologies to achieve consumers' best and specifically desired cannabis use experiences. Multiple genetic testing and analysis companies offer a way to better understand how bodies react to certain cannabis varieties and which combinations of cannabinoids are best suited for each person's desired outcome.

HOW DNA TESTING WORKS for Cannabis

As of 2022, an estimated 21% of Americans have reported taking mail-in DNA tests. Among the most common are Ancestry DNA, 23andMe, and MyHeritage DNA. These services offer an insight into the ethnic and family background, health, and medical history.

Recently, the cannabis industry has begun to explore the potential for this existing technology to apply to cannabis users. Three cannabis-specific DNA testing companies, Strain Genie, Dynamic DNA Labs, and Endocanna Health, claim to have identified 57 genetic signatures that can determine how individuals' bodies react to cannabis.

Much like popular DNA tests, consumers can mail in a saliva swab, which is run through each company's proprietary algorithm. Alternatively, existing DNA results from services like Ancestry DNA and 23andMe can be integrated for more rapid analysis, as they too identify the genetic markers that can be used to determine an individual's cannabis compatibility.

The cannabis DNA algorithm can detect the presence of certain genes, such as AKT1, CHRNA2, and CB2, which may indicate genetic predispositions as well as an individual's likelihood to develop psychosis or overdependency during cannabis use.

Based on genetic data, the report advises which cannabinoid or cannabinoid ratio is best for addressing specific problems. For example, an individual seeking a cannabis sleep aid may be advised to avoid THC or opt for strains and doses that are high in CBD and low in THC, and even which terpene profiles to prioritize. The reports offer recommendations specific to each consumer's use goals, whether that’s easing anxiety, alleviating pain, insomnia, or a variety of other aims.

San Francisco-based writer Zachary Crockett's Strain genie DNA test revealed a genetic risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. Crockett's report recommendation included cannabis cultivars high in a-pinene, such as Purple Bubba, which could be linked to memory enhancement.

While each company offers comprehensive analysis and recommendations, some exclusive offers are specific to each testing facilitator. Dynamic's reports can anticipate potential side effects that individuals might have or be prone to when using certain cannabis varieties. StrainGenie offers help ordering results-specific products in states where medical cannabis is legal. And Endocanna Health offers free immune function reports with existing genetics tests.

TECHNOLOGY IMPACTS ACROSS INDUSTRIES

Cannabis DNA testing serves as a microcosm of precision medicine, which creates tailored treatments based on individualized genetics and lifestyle. The emphasis on the endocannabinoid system lends a utilitarian approach to better understanding how cannabis and possibly other treatments and therapies can address certain illnesses and disorders, especially those impacting the central nervous system.

While cannabis DNA technology makes it easier for consumers to become more educated about what particular products may work best for them at addressing their desired results, there is still untapped potential for the dispensaries and growers.

Strain Genie currently provides a platform for purchasing and locating recommended strains. But dispensaries could offer solutions and even partnerships with cannabis DNA testing services by integrating their online stores with recommended products or a collection of best-suited flower in stock at each location.

Cannabis DNA results may also yield consumer population data with specified results, ultimately influencing which cultivars growers produce in a particular region or among a specific demographic where genetic profiles and cannabis use goals are similar and driving demand.

Cannabis DNA technology opens an entirely new approach to integrating cannabis into medical applications. And although the technology is still new, the market potential and public interest is steadily growing.

 

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