Several American and Canadian companies have begun to develop patents on cannabinoid producing yeast, E. coli, and other micro-organisms. Their research is generally kept secret for them to hold a business advantage.
The Nature paper is the first public exposure of the whole process needed to make yeast produce cannabinoids for commercial use. This could also help create yeast that synthesizes cannabinoids other than CBD and THC that are generally found at very low levels in the cannabis plant.
The new research from these scientists focuses on a cannabis enzyme that can be transferred into yeast DNA so that it metabolizes into cannabinoids instead of alcohol.
The federal law against cannabis applies to the plant and not necessarily to the cannabinoids in it. This creates an interesting thought. If a biological yeast is made to create THC is the yeast going to have to also be scheduled by the government?
Biosynthesized cannabinoids are not being produced commercially by any company yet. Jay Keasling currently has a patent for this method that he filed back in 2017. He’s currently working with the biotech startup named Demetrix to make this process ready for commercial production. The company hopes to lower their prices below $1000 per kilogram by the next couple years.