Is space the final frontier for cannabis? According to more than one reputable source, including retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, there is a definite possibility that one day we could be cultivating and consuming cannabis in space. And not only for space tourists looking for a little fun and relaxation; the environment could also see new “alien” cannabis species bred specifically for medical use.
In recent decades, agriculture and biology have taken a step beyond the Earth’s atmosphere into outer space. A feat once thought impossible. However, vegetable gardens and flowering plants now grow in space, especially onboard the International Space Station. At the same time, biotechnology has also worked wonders to grow improved fruit extracts from simple plant cells.
Of course, where plants can grow, cannabis can too, and this has some forward thinkers dreaming up all sorts of zero-g possibilities for cannabis. And while regular space tourism might still be a while off, you can bet there’ll be more news and ideas put forward in this field, which you can keep up with in our free cannabis news app.
Chris Hadfield Hints at a Space Cannabis Future
Now, with the advent of space tourism, Chris Hadfield, a famous retired Canadian astronaut, believes that this technology could be used to more easily refuel astronauts. He also touched on the possibility of growing cannabis there, as “alien” cannabis plants could hold wide promise in the medical field — however, as well as being able to be used purely recreationally by future space tourists.
Successfully growing plants outside of the earth’s atmosphere has been a research goal of many space missions. Producing food in space through agriculture would notably make it possible to make crews more autonomous, by reducing supplies from Earth. In addition, this autonomy would allow longer missions, such as the one that will send the first men to Mars, where supplies from Earth would be rare.
Producing “Superfood Supplements”
Bioharvest, a biotech company where Chris Hadfield is a board member, is currently focused on developing improved nutrients in microgravity. These nutrients would be intended for future astronauts, who will need specific nutritional intakes (to maintain good physical and mental performance in space and once back on Earth), especially if the missions are longer and become more frequent.
Thanks to high-performance bioreactors, the company has in fact succeeded in producing an extract derived from red grape cells that preserves the beneficial properties of the original plant. The ability of this dietary super supplement to provide significant cardiovascular benefits has been clinically demonstrated.“ This could be a boon for astronauts, who need to be in peak physical condition at all times,” Ilan Sobel, CEO of Bioharvest, told Futurism.
By partnering with start-up Space Tango, Bioharvest plans to adapt its bioreactors for use aboard the International Space Station. ” The big advantage of growing cells in a culture medium is that for a given amount of energy, or for a given dose of nutrients, it is more efficient in terms of mass and volume “, explains Alain Berinstain, CEO of Space Tango. This technology could also contribute to alleviating the problem of scarcity of food resources that we may face in the near future.
Is Space an Ideal Environment for Quality Cannabis?
Currently, Bioharvest is working on a new way to grow cannabis trichomes (the parts containing the active molecules of the plant) in the lab, through their bioreactors. This cultivation method would in particular save water and other resources necessary for the plant, compared to terrestrial cultivation. ” It actually mimics the natural growth process of the part that’s useful to us, but without the whole plant,” says Hadfield.
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