The wide world of weed research

Nature – International Journal of Science, Oct 17, 2018

As Canada lifts most of its restrictions on studying cannabis, here’s a look at how the rest of the world is faring. … Canada has just become the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to legalize cannabis for all uses — a move that has prompted a flood of funding for basic research into cultivation of the plant, and a clamour for scientists with expertise in genetics, bioengineering and growing practices. Elsewhere, research opportunities are generally more limited. … Still, money is flowing in the places that have made medical cannabis a top priority. Colombia: One of South America’s largest economies is looking to make a play in the global cannabis industry. Colombia’s criminal cartels have been growing cannabis for decades, and the government hopes that farmers formerly working with traffickers will now put their skills to use for the legal market. This would entail destroying illegal crops and adopting new cultivation methods refined in the country’s ornamental-flower industry, the second largest in the world. “We’re taking all the techniques that have been developed in the last 40 years in the cut-flower business in Colombia and adapting cannabis to it,” says Marcelo de Siqueira, chief operating officer of PharmaCielo, a company headquartered in Toronto, Canada, that grows cannabis in Rionegro, Colombia. He contrasts that with what’s being done elsewhere, where many companies are “taking an underground, inefficient, high-energy-consumption system that was typical of the black market and adapting it to large-scale production”. . . .