Science will open the floodgates on cheap, reliable high-volume production of THC and CBD. Yeast's rapid growth and ease of culturing will likely enable new stronger-better-faster variants of both.
UC Berkeley synthetic biologists have engineered brewer's yeast to produce marijuana's main ingredients—mind-altering THC and non-psychoactive CBD—as well as novel cannabinoids not found in the plant itself.
Feeding only on sugar, the yeast are an easy and cheap way to produce pure cannabinoids that today are costly to extract from the buds of the marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa.
"For the consumer, the benefits are high-quality, low-cost CBD and THC: you get exactly what you want from yeast," said Jay Keasling, a UC Berkeley professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and of bioengineering and a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "It is a safer, more environmentally friendly way to produce cannabinoids."