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Tech, Higher Ed power new developments in cannabis industry

Over the last several years, more and more states have revised and revisited existing marijuana policies, offering new legislation and approaching broader cannabis reform. As more people gain access to marijuana products, either medically or recreationally, the demand for properly cultivated cannabis is increasing. New advances in technology have played a large role in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana products across the country.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the active component in cannabis which makes it most effective, both in recreational and medical capacities. For years, cultivators have explored ways to increase levels of THC in their cannabis yields so as to have a more marketable and effective product.

Recently, Growing Together Research Inc., an Indiana-based biotech company, announced that they have developed a way to increase the levels of THC in cannabis through genetic modulation.

GTR, which partnered with Texas A&M Agrilife Research in 2020, was able to cultivate several THC-free cannabis cultivars. It was this discovery which led to the development of their latest technology, which allows hemp farmers to more accurately control the level of THC in their crops so that it does not exceed federal THC limits. Additionally, GTR’s technology is able to boost the genetic expression of cannabidiol, or CBD, in hemp crops.

With these advances, hemp farmers will no longer face the wasted crops or legal repercussions which accompany THC levels that exceed the federal limit.

In fact, unusable hemp crops have become increasingly common in recent years. One report from New Frontier Data estimates that between 2018 and 2020, over 10% of planted hemp acreage was over the federal limit of 0.3% THC.

GTR’s technological advances directly address this issue, making it far less likely for hemp farmers to risk crops which exceed the federal limit. The company first began to genetically select for lower THC levels by turning them “down” or “off”– a dynamic recently referred to as the “Delta9 Dial.”

With this gene-editing capability comes the opportunity to increase THC levels, as well. Enhancing the expression of THC in the crops guarantees a more consistent level of both THC and CBD so that the crops can remain within the federal limit.

This development is the first of many gene-editing efforts to achieve more potent cannabis products, but it is unclear whether the majority of consumers will be able to afford genetically modified marijuana products.

Although genetically modified organisms have long been available to consumers in the form of fruits and vegetables, it has long been a controversial approach to cultivation and likely would not be met with a wholehearted response from consumers one way or the other.

GTR CEO, Samuel E. Proctor, is optimistic about the future of genetically modified cannabis, stating that the “clear benefits are often obscured or not discussed in the context of biotechnology and agriculture […] it is important to keep them in mind to properly understand how biotechnology-driven approaches are beneficial.”

These advances in genetic modification are just one example of the many technological developments being introduced to revolutionize the way cannabis crops are cultivated and processed.

In recent decades, American cannabis production has skyrocketed as more states approach broader marijuana reform and new recreational and medical marijuana companies enter the market. Whether it is done commercially or privately, the cultivation of cannabis is a careful and specific process which requires effective and efficient LED grow lights.

Previous lighting systems have proven to be less than productive, as energy consumption and consistent light supply have been unreliable across the market. For years, individuals and companies cultivating marijuana have looked for newer and more affordable solutions to their lighting problems.

Companies like Vipar-Spectra, SpiderFarmer, and Fohse have provided unique, high-quality, and affordable options to marijuana cultivators around the nation. Their energy-efficient and high-yielding LED grow lights have revolutionized the way cannabis is cultivated.

Whereas older lighting systems relied heavily on additional equipment to time lighting series and cool down crops, newer LED grow lights come equipped with heat sinks and built-in fans– all with the promise of a lower price tag and less energy consumption.

With increasing access to marijuana products from state to state, demand for high-quality cannabis is rising. Proper LED grow lights are a key step to making cannabis cultivation an easier and more productive process.

Technological and entrepreneurial advancements go hand-in-hand as the demand for both medical and recreational marijuana products increases from state to state. While the strides made in biotechnology and genetic engineering are significant, the opportunities for cannabis specialization in higher education represent a more serious approach to the cannabis market as a growing industry.

As the cannabis market continues to expand, there is an increasing demand for employees– both in lower-wage positions and in positions which require technological and academic credentials. With advances in genetic modification and biotechnological engineering, the market will depend on thinkers and scholars to create new approaches to marijuana cultivation and production.

Several medical and recreational marijuana corporations have introduced college scholarship programs specifically to encourage future marijuana entrepreneurs. Additionally, several colleges and universities offer students the opportunity to pursue cannabis certification. A few such institutions include Stockton University, the University of Rhode Island, and Syracuse University.

Although there are many opportunities for students who hope to specialize in technology or STEM-based approaches to the cannabis market, there are ample opportunities for students who hope to pursue more business-based approaches, such as marketing, finance, and law.

Dispensaries across the country have positions available for employees who are able to bring fresh ideas and a unique perspective to the marijuana market.

Few fields are as stable or projected to be as successful as the cannabis industry, whose future only looks brighter as more states approach legalization and approve broader access to marijuana products.

On the whole, there are many exciting new opportunities opening up in the cannabis industry, whether in higher education, biotechnology, or genetic engineering. The booming market only promises a more dynamic and progressive approach to production as legal access to cannabis products increases on a national level.

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