Deciphering DNA for a Biological BlueprintWe spoke to Jackson Rowland, Founder, and CEO of Green Genomix, about DNA sequencing and decoding the varied effects of cannabis.
Maybe one of the most perplexing aspects of cannabis consumption is the full range of effects the plant produces. Cannabis products often elicit many different results. Learning how to effectively use the herb and find the right formulation are significant pain points for many consumers and patients.
However, thanks to advanced DNA testing and continued research, consumers may have a new tool for uncovering the key to their individual cannabis code. CannabisTech spoke to Jackson Rowland last week about how his company, Green Genomix, is bringing cannabis DNA science to a living room near you.
Lack of Consistent Effects
Rowland recalled, “I grew up in Colorado and used cannabis on and off, but had many different experiences with it, and my friends were in the same boat. This troubled me.”
Frustrated with this inconsistency and wanting to consume cannabis functionally for relaxation and sleep, Rowland decided to put his expertise in chemistry and biochemistry to work, forming Green Genomix, a DNA testing company focused on helping the cannabis patient understand how their genetic imprint may impact the outcome of their cannabis experience.
Through their research, Rowland and his team discovered there are distinct reasons for the inconsistencies in cannabis effects:
- Product Variations – different products, different consumption methods, different cannabinoid formulations, all play on the impact of cannabis. “From edibles to smokables, to topicals, even two of the same product can have different cannabinoid formulations,” Rowland stated.
- Expectations – “People use cannabis for different reasons, and their expectations can impact how they perceive the effect,” he claimed.
- Biological Differences – genetics, health, chemical imbalances can all impact how the body reacts to cannabinoids according to Rowland.
- Lifestyle – things like how often the consumer exercises, if they already use cannabis and have a tolerance, diet, and overall environment all play a part in how the body metabolizes marijuana.
“We are all different,” Rowland explained. “And genetics alone are insufficient in providing enough information to really connect people with the right products.”
The 23andMe of Cannabis
Similar to other at-home DNA tests, Green Genomix offers online ordering for a specialized set of DNA-based test results. Together, with a survey about the consumer’s lifestyle and expectations, Green Genomix blends the analysis from the lab into a specialized report for the consumer.
Six Key Areas of Insight
By focusing in on specific variants called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), results from the DNA test can help determine how consumers react to different forms of cannabis. The factors included in the report are:
- Anxiety – By testing for nine genetic variants, Green Genomix determines the likelihood of experiencing increased, or overwhelming, mental stimulation.
- Mood & Behavior – Six variations in the genetic code may point to how cannabis can impact the consumer’s state of mind.
- Cognition – DNA provides five variants which correlate to concentration and working memory.
- Metabolism – Each person breaks down cannabinoids at a different rate. Three genetic variants can indicate the rate of metabolization.
- Pain Perception – There are four variants which relate to the perception of pain relief from cannabis.
- Endocannabinoid System Sensitivity – Three variants indicate the sensitivity of the ECS.
Unlocking the Code
Explaining the process in more detail, Rowland added, “Genes by themselves are only an indication, there’s no certainty in individual genes. But, when we look at multiple genes related to the same trait, it gives a stronger indication and increases our confidence in the results.”
Just a few of the genes Green Genomix tests for include:
- CYP2C9: Associated with the metabolism of THC.
- COMT: Associated with the effect of THC on cognition.
- CNR1: Related to the strength of certain cannabinoids.
- AKT1: A variant which indicates THC-induced psychomotor impairment.
- CNR1 and FAAH: May indicate impulsivity and behavior issues.
Additionally, Rowland anticipates there’s much to be learned from the information they collect through the tests they complete. “It’s exciting to see what genes are discovered from this research,” he said. “After we add many more genes to the panel, we’ll be able to provide more specific details and more confident information.”
Rowland continued, “People deserve honesty and scientific transparency, especially as it relates to their health.”
Just as diets, other medicines, and even learning styles do not come in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for every person, cannabis supplementation is as unique as the individual consumer. By providing consumers an easily accessible, accurate DNA test to help them discover their unique biological makeup as it relates to cannabis consumption, Green Genomix hopes to give people an educated starting point to get the most from cannabis and hemp-derived products.