Article by Daniel Oberhaus, Motherboard
When you walk into a dispensary in any one of the 25 states where medicinal and/or recreational marijuana is legal, you’ll likely see display cases lined with a dozen or more strains of weed. Many of these strains, like Pineapple Express or Blue Dream, will sound familiar, but is the Granddaddy Purp you buy in Colorado the same stuff your guy in California is selling you?
To answer this question, a company called Medicinal Genomics is creating a repository of cannabis genomes which are stored on the Bitcoin blockchain. The company hopes that its efforts will standardize strain nomenclature so that customers always know what they’re getting while also defending the intellectual property rights of those who breed new strains of weed.
Medicinal Genomics is a lot like any other cannabis testing company, insofar as they run tests on marijuana plants to look for microbial contaminations and determine their cannabinoid content to help marijuana cultivators comply with state regulations. Yet what sets this company apart is that their labs are also offering customers the ability to sequence the genome of their cannabis plants.
Hundreds of strains of cannabis exist and cultivators are working on breeding new strains all the time. In many cases, what sets these strains apart can be difficult to tell with a glance and a sniff—to really see the difference between them, you need to look at the DNA of the plant. Long before the rise of industrial cannabis, the name of the strain didn’t really matter. If your dealer was growing pot in his mom’s basement and told you that your buds were OG Kush, then that’s what they were—who cares if you were actually getting Girl Scout Cookies as long as it got you stoned.