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Blog: How Developments in IP and Plant Protection Regulation Will Reshape Cannabis Genetics.

Published 12:20 AM EST, Thu September 14, 2023
  • A cannabis-specific plant variety protection system will boost monetization.

  • Adoption of genetic engineering science will allow traceabilty and an enforceable royalties-based model.

  • Adequate regulation will boost valuations and trigger market consolidation.

We’ve talked about Alphatype’s long-term vision before and argued why delaying gratification is key to a cannabis breeding company. We’re also vocal about our commitment to precision genetics, compliance, and building an ultra cost-efficient production structure that can stand the inevitable commoditization of cannabis in general, and cannabis seeds and clones, in particular. These all impact our preparedness for one the biggest game-changers already taking form in the industry: Cannabis IP and plant protection.

Cannabis plant protection regulation.

Intellectual property (IP) and plant protection regulation in the cannabis genetics industry will necessarily mature over the next decade. Pressure from researchers and breeders will result in regulation that protects our work and incentivizes innovation and investment. Isn’t that the main pillar of modern-day capitalism? Breeders’ rewards for innovation impacted global food security during the 20th century by achieving ten-fold increase in yields in essential crops like corn or wheat.

One much needed development in IP and plant protection regulation is the establishment of a system for registering and protecting cannabis plant varieties. This could involve the creation of a new cannabis-specific plant variety protection system, or the application/customization of existing systems such as the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) or the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). This will enable tracking and tracing cannabis strains, which in turn will help to ensure the authenticity and genetic purity of starting material purchased.

Cluster analysis Alphatype

The role of biotech and AI (artificial intelligence).

Genetic engineering is here to stay. Sequencing, and then editing, will continue to develop in the cannabis industry at the same speed, if not faster, than in other plant species. And with it, regulation on the use of genetic engineering techniques such as CRISPR, as well as on the commercialization of genetically modified cannabis plants.

Genetic markers will allow breeders to identify and protect their research in unequivocal terms, resulting in a brand new revenue stream by the way of royalties. Protected strains will become liquid, tradable assets. Balance sheets and valuations will reflect this new reality.

Maturity, consolidation and liquidity events.

As cannabis plant protection regulation advances, so does the interest of major generic plant breeding companies, blue-chip cannabis conglomerates, and the biotech VC ecosystem. Selling seeds and clones and having a healthy bottom line is currently not enough to catch the attention of those up in the food chain. Having patents and the ability to enforce them will. We see a three to five year horizon for this wave of acquisitions to transform our sector.

What made Monsanto what it is today, apart from its investment in innovation, was its unique approach to plant protection patents and public affairs. So yes, unfortunately, lawyers are (almost) as important to a cannabis breeding operation as the agronomists, geneticists and biologists working in the lab daily.


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