Moncton researchers aim to increase cannabis production

New research aimed at increasing the production of cannabis is underway at l’Universite de Moncton.

“The main idea of the project is to increase productivity,” says Dr. David Joly, of the department of biology.

“Whether in a specific amount of time, just generating more plants or more products of the plant, or shorten the time to get the same product.”

The three-year project is expected to cost over $1.1 million. The partnership includes Universite de Moncton, Government of Canada, Genome Atlantic, Genome Canada, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, and local licensed producer Organigram.

Joly and Dr. Martin Filion are tasked with carrying out the research.

“[Filion] found some interesting bacteria that can promote the growth of plants, reduce the incidents of disease or even promote the accumulation of particular products such as oil, for example, in the context of oilseed crops,” says Joly. “What we want to do with that project is to just do the same, but with cannabis.”

Joly says a lack of knowledge about the plant, and country-wide demand leaving supply shortages across the country are two big focuses for him.

He says wheat, as an example, has had extensive research done over time, but that same level of information and research isn’t available for cannabis.

Ray Gracewood, Organigram’s chief commercial officer, says grey mold or powdery mildew hasn’t been an issue within the facility, and preventative measures are in place.

Following a number of temporary closures earlier this month as a result of supply shortages, Cannabis NB says they haven’t had to close any stores in the past two weeks, and they’re hoping to increase supply.

Like other plants, Joly says cannabis can be susceptible to diseases, mainly powdery mildew or grey mold.

He says they’ve been researching powdery mildew for three years, as part of previous work with Organigram.

They’re exploring potential options for creating a new plant — something that can be done by crossing two plants — in response to grey mold, according to Joly.

Organigram says they haven’t had concerns with those two diseases.

“If we were to see a positive result on any of those sorts of things, it results in a complete loss of that entire harvest,” says chief commercial officer Ray Gracewood. “For us, obviously that’s a huge potential loss and something we want to avoid.”

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