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Cannabis research has expanded from a niche area to a flourishing branch of scientific innovation, combining breakthroughs in botany, medicine, processing and technology. The recent Innovation Awards celebration from The Cannabis Scientist showcased many stellar tools and applications released over the past year — and they are worth a look.

Five awards were made for tools and technologies designed to make cannabis scientists’ lives easier. In fifth place, Kyoto-headquartered Shimadzu Scientific has developed both a compact, turnkey Cannabis Analyzer and Hemp Analyzer that integrate all testing hardware into a single, portable unit. These user-friendly units allow growers to easily test samples with consistent results from sample to sample and operator to operator. Any employee, whether a chemist or an amateur, can run the testing with full confidence it will meet all legal standards.

The fourth place award went to California’s Arcadia Biosciences for its groundbreaking ArcaTech technology platform — combining data science, genome editing and predictive breeding. The company’s aim is to rapidly solve grower challenges such as disease, yield and plant architecture; it can allow growers to engineer varieties with custom cannabinoid and terpene profiles for the wellness marketplace. And its ability to adapt genetic modifications to different latitudes and climates is being termed a real game-changer.

Third place went to North Carolina’s Fritsch Milling & Sizing for its Pulverisette 19 Precision Cutting Mill System, a complete rethink of how cannabis flower is processed. This fully-adjustable milling tool is specially designed for cannabis, allowing for more efficient grinding to consistent particle sizes. The cutting speed is so fast there is no time for friction to generate heat, so cannabinoids and terpenes are preserved. It is seen as a significant improvement over standard one-size-fits-all cutting systems.

Runner up was the Jamaican Lion Reference Genome, created by Massachusetts-based  Medicinal Genomics in collaboration with DASH Cryptocurrency, New England Biolabs, Phase Genomics, and Pacific Bioscience. This is the most comprehensive cannabis reference genome to date, and its public release is meant to have far-reaching impacts on future medical cannabis products such as personalized drugs. The most innovative product of 2020 was Triploid Seed created by Oregon CBD, headquartered outside Corvallis. This well-known seed company recently developed cannabis plants that cannot be pollinated from rogue pollen from plants on nearby properties, causing lower yields and lesser potency. Using these seeds, growers can plant grain and fiber crops alongside cannabinoid crops without worry over cross-pollination and accidental fertilization. The potential impact in outdoor settings like Oregon and California is huge, increasing revenues and giving growers more peace of mind.