Last month, researchers at Stanford University announced that they were able to create a form of yeast that produce a number of different psychoactive compounds, including THC, one of the primary components found in marijuana. The scientists were also able to derive more mainstream painkillers like hydrocodone from the yeast.
The discovery is expected to be used in the development of pill based cannabis treatments that can be sold by pharmaceutical companies. Many companies are now attempting to find ways to market marijuana pills, like the Marinol and Cesamet medications that are already being prescribed.
Kevin Chen, the chief executive of Hyasynth Bio, one of the companies working to develop this technology, told the New York Times that he believes this could be a very important discovery.
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“This is something that could literally change the lives of millions of people,” he said.
With the drug war still raging on, many researchers are weary of cultivating cannabis, and this would allow them to have access to some of the compounds without breaking the law and growing the plant.
“They are in fear that these plants will be grown and will support some illegal farming,” Dr. Oliver Kayser of Stanford said.
Many long-time marijuana users are apprehensive about attempts to put plants into pills, and many of them are not as excited as the scientists and pharmaceutical companies are. Even so, it is true that more access to medical marijuana will make life a lot easier for many patients.