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Considering Medical Cannabis? There's a DNA Test for That


The direct-to-consumer genetic testing market goes further in the green.

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Before using medical or recreational marijuana, people now have the chance to see how their bodies and minds might react. That’s because a biotech startup called Endocanna Health today released its Cannabinoid DNA Variant Test, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic assessment kit designed to measure an individual’s response to cannabis.

Using an algorithm and genetic data, the DNA test is the first of its kind that is capable of analyzing a person’s DNA and telling them how they might respond in terms of metabolization, anxiety, drug dependence and more, according to Endocanna Health. In a nutshell, the DTC test can determine how likely marijuana users are to enjoy their high and their lives.

>> READ: Handling the Headaches of At-Home Genetic Testing

“The goal of our reports is to help people identify which products may help them and try to give them the best possible outcomes with cannabis,” notes Len May, co-founder and CEO of Endocanna Health.

The launch of the cannabinoid test is a step in a new direction for the DTC genetic-testing industry, a market poised to explode to $340 million in just four years. So far, players like 23andMe and Ancestry have dominated headlines and TV commercials, helping customers learn about everything from disease risk to their lineage. Any number of up-and-comers have entered the space in recent years, at times fueling controversy and earning applause from patients and providers.

Endocanna Health sits in a perfect storm. Over the past decade, states have passed laws decriminalizing and, in some cases, even legalizing marijuana, which had long taken on the role of a social pariah. At the same time, nearly 30 states have approved medical marijuana laws, igniting a wave of medical cannabis startups and research projects.

But not everyone has taken to pot. Even among the largely pro-weed trade publication industry, writers have repeatedly covered issues such as anxiety, paranoia and mental dependence, which have plagued certain cannabis users. The prevailing takeaway from academia and journalism: Marijuana affects everyone differently.

So, a company like Endocanna Health could find itself in a lucrative position, eliminating hesitance in some potential cannabis consumers by shining a light on their individual level of risk. The company claims its new DTC test can help people “demystify” these experiences and “further establishes cannabis as a viable solution to alleviate health and wellness issues,” all by combing through existing genetic data or extracting that information from a saliva swab.

Ultimately, however, the product represents yet another moment of innovation in the ever-evolving DTC genetic-testing industry.

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