Pot roundup: Hemp producers submit applications; mapping a cannabis genome

The Department of Agriculture hopes crops can be planted by spring; Portland startup needs more money to finish genome-mapping project.

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In the wake of legalized marijuana, the Oregon Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications to grow industrial hemp.

OregonLive.com reported on the shift in direction for the governmental agency:

State agriculture officials have spent months drafting rules for commercial hemp production. The rules spell out how hemp may be produced and processed, as well as licensing fees for people interested in growing and handling the crop.

Though advocates are happy to see Oregon moving forward with an industrial hemp program, they worry the rules are too restrictive. They argue that Oregon’s minimum acreage requirements, restrictions on the use of hemp seed and limits on tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component found in marijuana, make Oregon less competitive in the global hemp market.

Phylos Bioscience aims to raise $1.75 million in addition to the $250,000 its already procured to finish mapping the cannabis genome.

The Portland Business Journal reported on the startup’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission:

Phylos is using next-generation sequencing to map the lineage relationships among thousands of modern strains of cannabis and their ancestors, the company says on its website.

It is creating an interactive genealogical map will allow people to see how their plants are related to others and how traits have changed over time. Samples can be submitted for sequencing, identification and certification.

The Willamette Week reported Wednesday on the complications in testing legal marijuana to ensure consumer safety:

Setting up procedures for testing the freshness of weed and the power of its buzz is a balancing act between protecting public health and keeping the price low enough to compete with the black market. It also exposes the tensions between the different groups looking to cash in on Oregon’s legal pot.

At the heart of [president of Eco Firma Farms Jesse] Peters’ gripe: The Oregon Health Authority, which oversees medical marijuana, just toughened the requirements for dispensaries and growers to test and label the weed they sell, while failing to set any standards for the labs that measure its safety and strength.  The need for the state to fix the problem is urgent, because Oregon’s medical marijuana testing rules are widely seen as a trial run for the recreational weed market created by voters in November.