Article by Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
One of John Lem’s first hints that the technology behind his DNA testing company Spartan Bioscience could be a hit with cannabis users came years ago when an executive asked him if genetics could have caused a bad reaction to pot. The question intrigued Lem so much that he eventually applied Spartan’s technology to a new Toronto-based venture called Lobo Genetics. Through Lobo, he created a genetic testing device that fits in the palm of a hand and uses cells obtained through a cheek swab to measure a person’s ability to metabolize THC — the main psychoactive component in cannabis — and determine someone’s predisposition to short- and long-term side effects. Lobo believes it could be a hit with health-care practitioners and medical marijuana users, but has also recently experienced a flurry of interest from the recreational industry. “We thought the med pool was going to be first in terms of adoption, but dramatically on the rec side, there are a lot of potential opportunities,” Lem said. The boom Lem is seeing puts Lobo Genetics among a wave of tech companies benefiting from the Oct. 17 legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada. Already the pot tech industry has seen the debut of Toronto start-up Strainprint Technologies Inc., which makes it easy to track and manage the dosage and effects of pot, and California-founded Weedmaps, which helps users find locations throughout Canada where they can buy the substance. Also cashing in on the pot tech rush are Ottawa-based Shopify, which powers provincial and private marijuana e-commerce offerings, and cannabis companies like Lift & Co., which runs a reviews app.