Drug-free weed?

In the fight over medical marijuana, other uses for plants in the Cannabis family sometimes are forgotten. By other uses, I mean other than getting high, of course. Hemp fiber and oil are two of the uses.

In a step toward exploiting those Cannabis features while sidestepping the controversy and the politics, University of Minnesota researchers have identified genes that produce tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance in marijuana. The genes are active in tiny hairs covering the flowers of Cannabis plants, said the study published in the September issue of the Journal of Experimental Botany. The lead author is David Marks, a professor of plant biology.

Hemp contains miniscule amounts of THC compared to marijuana. It once was a popular crop in the Upper Midwest, but the whole family has been banned from cultivation nationwide. Minnesota and North Dakota are among several states that have moved toward reinstating the crop.

The U of M researchers say that with the genes identified, there may be a way to “silence” them in hemp, producing a drug-free plant. They also say that studies of the genes could open new paths toward better drugs for pain, nausea and other conditions treated with medicinal marijuana.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 09/23/2009 - 09:54 am.

    Dude, what the heck. Now the only good weed will be the kind that entrepreneurs with their homegrown horticultural skills will breed.. Largest cash crop in the country…

    Gotta love the personal initiative and entrepreneurial skills that makes these folks provide what the market demands… just saying

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/23/2009 - 10:59 am.

    Could the “Refer Madness” that inflicts so many conservatives and law and order types finally be giving way to reality? Probably not.

    The founders of this country grew hemp and respected it for the quality and durability of its fiber, especially for rope.

    There’s no evidence that they smoked it (although this had already been done in other parts of the world for centuries). Perhaps we can take the same approach when it comes to agricultural hemp. Our farmers could certainly use a new cash crop.

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