Cannabis firm Cronos inks $122 million deal to produce lab-grown cannabinoids

(This story has been updated to include Ginkgo’s partnership with Bayer.) 

Canadian cannabis producer Cronos Group has tapped Boston-based Ginkgo Bioworks in a $122 million endeavor to biologically engineer a wide range of cannabinoids found in cannabis.

Under the deal, announced Tuesday, Ginkgo, which creates customized microbes, will work exclusively with Cronos to research and design microorganisms capable of producing cannabinoids.

It’s not the first such partnership for Gingko. Last year, the company struck a deal with the German pharmaceutical and life sciences giant Bayer to create a microorganism called a “plant microbiome” for use in the agricultural industry, according to Forbes.

According to a Cronos news release, many pharmaceutically relevant cannabinoids are present only at very low quantities in the cannabis plant. That makes them economically difficult to extract at high purity and scale.

By genetically engineering certain strains of yeast, Gingko will set out to create a method to produce cannabinoids through a fermentation process that’s part of its organism design platform, according to the release.

“The potential uses of cannabinoids are vast, but the key to successfully bringing cannabinoid-based products to market is in creating reliable, consistent and scalable production of a full spectrum of cannabinoids, not just THC and CBD,” Cronos CEO Mike Gorenstein said.

Under terms of the deal, Ginkgo will receive $22 million from Cronos to cover research and design. If the firm is successful in producing the target cannabinoids, Cronos will issue up to $100 million in common shares in tranches as Ginkgo reaches certain production milestones.

Cronos is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol CRON. Ginkgo is a private company.

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7 comments on “Cannabis firm Cronos inks $122 million deal to produce lab-grown cannabinoids
  1. Brett Roper on

    This type of undertaking to displace mother nature’s kitchen will be interesting to watch. If successful (odds are not necessarily in favor of this ad a whole outcome) it could be years away and potentially only cover a small portion of the plant’s cannabinoid profile. You roll the dice and take your chances. Ultimately, if partially successful all we will need to do then is conduct real clinical trials with synthetic cannabanoids vs those ‘grown’ which will also be interesting to watch … lots of moving parts on this one for sure.

    • Lynda on

      PLEASE, do not fall to BIG PHARMA running scared from the REAL and ORIGINAL benefits of medical CANNABIS!! There is no need to TAKE TIME AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS to try to re-create what is ALREADY PROVEN TO WORK NATURALLY without all the side effects of Big Pharma PILLS, ETC. Let’s stay with common sense and nature.

      • Johnny on

        But they can patent the genetically.modified organism and therefore make money off you and them and all of us
        Just stick with the natural organic plant

      • david findley on

        ya, because today’s highly evolved strains (genetically designed through intense re-breeding programs,) are sooo much more natural than breeding yeast bacteria to fart out the same compounds.

        you haven’t eaten corn or wheat or potato products lately, have you? do you realize the extent of genetic modification they underwent during the agricultural revolution??

        and.. omg.. you wouldn’t ever own a cat or dog, would you?? it’s criminal the kind of genetic modifications humanity has put them through~! they are truly ..abominations..!!

    • peter m dempsey on

      Inmed pharmaceuticals is already doing it. They claim to be able to make 60 of the cannabinoids synthetically and they have several medications in clinical trials. Should be scooped up by Big Pharma soon.

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