In research announced on Wednesday by the University of California at Berkeley, a team of synthetic biologists modified brewer’s yeast to produce a range of cannabinoids, which are compounds in cannabis that affect the brain and body. The technique opens up the possibility of circumventing the need for large-scale plant cultivation, and the findings could conceivably make high-quality, reasonably priced cannabinoids much more accessible for pharmaceutical development and recreational consumer products…

To brew cannabinoids—the most famous of which are tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, or THC and CBD—the operation looks much like a traditional brewery, says Jay Keasling, the Berkeley professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering who led the research. “Essentially what we’ve done is taken yeast, which would normally produce ethanol for beer or wine, and we put in it the gene for producing cannabinoids,” he says. “We have the opportunity to produce very pure molecules.”