“We will be providing cannabis growers with much needed research”

“We will be providing cannabis growers with much needed research”

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“There is a lack of research in the cannabis industry, especially concerning aspects that are important for cultivators,” says Dr. Allison Justice, CEO of The Hemp Mine. Together with Dr. Jim Faust’s Flowering Physiology Laboratory at Clemson University, they are aiming to change that. “We have created the Cannabis Research Coalition (CRC), a not-for-profit organization focused on cannabis horticultural research. Because of this new coalition, we will be able to address the cultivation and post-harvest issues that challenge today’s cannabis industry.”

From ornamentals to cannabis
Both Dr. Justice and Dr. Faust had their start in studying ornamental horticulture. Despite this background, they both ended up making a switch to the cannabis industry a couple of years ago. “With the lack of research in this industry, we decided to start the CRC. This provides a means for us to do what a lot of other industries have already been doing. Groups of relevant people (such as farmers or vendors, for example) can now come together and pull resources to push research and development forward. So far, we have members ranging from small farms to multistate operators.”

Lack of research
According to Justice, there are two main reasons for the lack of research that is relevant for cannabis growers. “First of all, the legality of the crop has of course been an issue when it comes to doing any research. While the crop has been growing for hundreds of years, the majority of that has been done on the black market. In other industries, growers could reach out to companies for questions or recommendations, but cannabis growers have not been able to do so. As a result, factual knowledge regarding the plants is lower compared to other industries.”

During these past five years, however, this has been developing. “We have been able to talk to universities, and a lot more companies are now willing to work with cannabis growers. It is a good development to see that this is changing in the right direction. However, there is still the disadvantage of the industry being so new. If anything unique or special is found, growers might not want to share it with others, as it is helping their business forward.”

Understanding cannabis
Therefore, there is still an evident need for more available, scientific knowledge in the industry, explains Justice. “More universities are now stepping in and doing studies on cultivation. But the industry is also in need of research on the drying and curing aspects of cannabis. These are such important parts of the process, as you need to be able to preserve the quality and of course, produce a safe product. In the cannabis industry, a lot of the production processes are based on guesswork, as scientific knowledge is just not yet available. With the Scientific Research Coalition, we have already been doing studies on cannabis and ethylene gas, and looking at what happens to the sugars/carbohydrates of the flowers; how do they change? Projects are also underway concerning the correlation between light intensity and yield. Once we fully understand what is happening with the plants, growers can optimize their processes accordingly.”

How does it work?
"Our mission is to partner with cannabis-industry stakeholders to advance the exploration of the cannabis plant and implement science-based research to develop the techniques required to create a sustainable, efficient, and profitable industry. Our approach is to combine the resources of stakeholders - individuals and businesses - to fund research that provides practical answers to the questions that limit our success as an industry,” Justice says. “We are very problem-focused, and we really want the members to have a say in what we are doing. We want to know what the growers’ problems are and provide answers to their questions.”

While the announcement of the Cannabis Research Coalition was only recently, there has already been a lot of interest from the industry. “From very small farms to large multistate operators, everyone in the industry is in need for relevant, trustworthy research.”

For more information:
The Hemp Mine
Allison Justice

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