3 Ways Cannabis DNA Testing Will Affect Consumers In 2020 and Beyond
The changing legal landscape of cannabis, an exponential increase in cannabis-derived products, and the explosion of direct-to-consumer DNA testing kits mean 2020 will likely be a big year for cannabis DNA testing. But what does the future hold for this modern and niche market?
A new legal backdrop
In the US, 33 states have legalized cannabis for medical use, with 14 states permitting recreational consumption. There are various social and logistical aspects surrounding cannabis’ legalization, with activists in Illinois fighting to ensure that a portion of the profits is used to support and rebuild communities that are disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
Because many states have changed their legislation in the last few years, and people are trying to make cannabis a mainstream sector that’s accessible to everyone, new and opening cannabis markets are emerging. In 2020, the industry will potentially see New York and New Jersey legalize recreational cannabis.
Some of the more conservative states, such as South Dakota and Idaho, might permit medical cannabis use, and more generally, medical cannabis programs in other regions could expand, making the plant more accessible for people to use. However, it remains unclear if the national legalization of cannabis products is a potential for the future, even though hemp-derived remedies, which are federally legal, are setting a great example for what the cannabis industry can do nationally.
CBD products have undergone enormous expansion in the last couple of years, in part due to the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed some cannabis products from the Controlled Substance Act. As a result of the legislation and the booming market, U.S. CBD sales are projected to grow 107% annually through 2023. With the introduction of items like CBD-infused pet products, skin care, beverages, and more, it’s likely that the predictions for the CBD industry will come into fruition.
Unique product opportunities will continue to present itself in the cannabis market as a whole. However, one innovation, in particular, is already garnering attention.
Cannabis DNA testing — what will it do in 2020?
Cannabis DNA testing represents a unique niche of the cannabis market, taking advantage of the growing technology and society’s interest in finding out how DNA can impact various aspects of our health and lifestyle. Cannabis DNA testing is setting the stage for more mindful and involved decision making regarding cannabis use. Primarily, this niche is helping brands personalize their cannabis products and recommendations, keeping up with innovations in science.
In 2020, this personalization could help physicians, cannabis brands, and consumers identify the likelihood of experiencing adverse side effects, based on the data that’s present in people’s DNA. This information could lead to personalized dosage recommendations as well as products that users might want to choose to have a good cannabis experience.
While it’s not commonly known, certain genes can determine how someone reacts to cannabis products. But as cannabis DNA testing becomes mainstream, people can use the insight they learn about their DNA to find the best cannabis remedies for them and achieve three main goals.
1. Effectively break down cannabinoids
When cannabinoids — primarily THC and CBD — enter the body, they have to be metabolized. This process occurs when enzymes start to break down the chemical compounds. However, genetics play a role in this process because enzymes are coded for by DNA. Any slight changes in the genes that code for enzymes can change the enzyme’s structure and activity.
For instance, some people possess variants in the gene that encodes the CYP2C9 enzyme, making the enzyme 30% less effective in breaking down THC. This reduced inability causes the cannabinoid to accumulate in the body, leading to a more intense and longer-lasting effect, associated with enhanced sedation.
Similarly, variations in the gene that encodes an enzyme responsible for breaking down dopamine in the brain (COMT) has been linked to responses to THC. In a recent study, researchers found that a relatively common variant was associated with working memory deficiency following THC exposure.
2. Prevent cannabis-induced psychosis
Cannabis-induced psychosis is a rare phenomenon affecting 1% of long-term, heavy cannabis users. The condition causes transient psychotic symptoms and potentially leads to the onset of longer-term psychosis. This disorder is associated with increased levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate in the striatum, a region of the brain that’s important in cognition, decision making, and reward perception.
Genetically, variants in genes that encode the dopamine receptor DRD2 and signaling protein AKT1 have been associated with increased risks of suffering cannabis-induced psychosis. Moreover, having both variants further increases an individual’s risk of developing the condition.
3. Avoid developing a cannabis-dependency
In some cases, cannabis users can develop a dependency. However, this condition does have a genetic component that consumers can learn about to decrease the risk of developing the condition.
The FAAH gene, which is part of the endocannabinoid system, and genetic variations in the cellular transport protein ABCD1, which is believed to alter THC’s distribution, psychoactive effects, and individual vulnerability to dependence, could lead to a psychological craving for cannabis. Similar variations have already been linked with substance abuse and other addictions, so if users have these genetic variations, they will have an increased risk of developing a cannabis dependency.
Where the cannabis industry is headed
The cannabis industry will continue to grow and expand into new markets as states investigate cannabis’ benefits. Moreover, uncovering the information held within people’s DNA will empower recreational users to get the most out of their cannabis products and equip medical users with post-treatment outcomes. In 2020 and beyond, the cannabis industry will achieve great feats, and it will be exciting to see the ways in which cannabis products continue to positively affect consumers’ lives.