California University to Begin First-of-its-Kind Research Study on Legacy Plants and Communities

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Cal Poly Humboldt plans a two-year community-based study on the plant genetics and history from legacy cannabis communities in the state.

Starting this fall, Cal Poly Humboldt, a university in northern California, will begin a two-year study intended to create a long-term approach in tracing and preserving the plant genetics and oral histories of legacy cannabis growers across the state (1). The California Department of Cannabis Control is funding the research team and study for $2.7 million (1).

The interdisciplinary study will include graduate and undergraduate students from the university’s newly offered Cannabis Studies program–which will also begin in fall 2023–and their work will support the “Legacy Cannabis Genetics: People and Their Plants” study (1,2). The “legacy community” will include cannabis-producing regions that have established productive, small-scale cannabis cultivation for at least the past two decades (3).


"What we hope to collect is an opportunity to show other people a model for doing something that is not exploitative and that is, you know, all about preserving heritage; even if we're only 50 years old here, by now Humboldt is the youngest member of that global cannabis heritage site," said Dominic Corva, Sociology Professor and Cannabis Studies Program Director and principal investigator (1). “Humboldt is the latest in the last 10,000 years of history, in terms of places that have become synonymous with the plant,” he also stated (4).

The community research panel plans to include advisory boards, town halls, and hundreds of interviews (1). Involvement of legacy cultivation communities will include deciding where to store the seeds and how to preserve the genetics of hundreds of plants (4).

“It's a form of collective marketing rights and the ability to record your genetic variant,” Corva said (3). “When federal legalization comes along, this will position Californian’s small producers really well for the national and global marketplace.”

Anticipated research outputs from study will include herbariums (plant libraries), genomics data, a database of oral history videos, and a series of educational webinars and publications (3).