Even as more states move to legalize marijuana use, the plant’s genetic makeup remains a relative mystery.
“It’s still quite an undeveloped species from the perspective of genetics,” Canadian botanist Jonathan Page told Vocativ.
Page published the first paper with a draft sequence of a single cannabis strain, but federal laws against pot have long made academic research on the plant a challenge.
Things are changing, though, partially because of changing attitudes toward pot. Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana, and eight states plus D.C. have recreational laws on the books.
A Portland, Oregon-based genetics lab called Phylos is working on a marijuana genome project that would trace the full genetic map of the plant and its many different strains.
Phylos co-founder Mowgli Holmes, a former HIV researcher, sees blue skies for people who want some nice green bud.
“When we understand this plant better, we’re going to be able to help breeders make absolutely crazy, wild weed,” he told Vocativ. “There’s going to be cannabis around that would be unthinkable today.”
See more in the video above.