The Cannabis Conundrum: Friend or Foe?
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The Cannabis Conundrum: Friend or Foe?
Posted by CN Staff on July 05, 2009 at 12:40:36 PT
By Lisa Christadore
Source: Telluride Daily Planet 
Colorado -- Just as blue eyes and stubborn spirits are genetically inherited from parents, botanical genes code for flower color, seed shape, and stem size as well as the production of molecules important for fragrance, flavor, and natural chemicals.Cannabis sativa, a plant cultivated for thousands of years, contains a genomic region responsible for the production of the psychoactive chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
It is this chemical that earned Cannabis its illicit label, “marijuana,” and motivated United States lawmakers to outlaw Cannabis cultivation over seventy years ago. The resultant debate to legalize Cannabis stems from social, political, and economic issues that, quite possibly, only modern science can ameliorate.“I can’t think of another plant that is so regarded as a miracle by some and a menace by others,” said George Weiblen, Professor of Plant Biology at the University of Minnesota, in a recent interview.The week’s Pinhead Town Talk, “The Cannabis Conundrum: The science and politics of the world’s most controversial plant,” presented by Weiblen will draw on scientific and historical facts to thrash out common misconceptions of a plant so fraught with negativity.“Today, Cannabis research in the United States focuses almost entirely on marijuana’s effects on the human body,” Weiblen noted. “I’m one of very few researchers permitted by our government to study the plant. What our research has discovered will challenge opinions on either side of the controversy.”Depending on the cultivar, or plant variety resulting from selective breeding, Cannabis plants vary in THC concentration and are generally categorized as either hemp or marijuana. Hemp is primarily harvested for durable fiber, isolated from the plant stems, and produces a minimal amount of THC (0.3 percent). Marijuana, on the other hand, contains higher percentages of THC (between 2 and 25 percent) and is typically used for medicinal and “recreational” purposes.“The problem is that hemp and marijuana are difficult to tell apart based solely on appearance. They can only be distinguished by their THC concentrations,” explains Weiblen. “For this reason, federal lawmakers are reluctant to relax legislation and permit hemp cultivation on domestic soil.”Cannabis took root in America during the 16th century where it was legally grown to produce essential materials — paper, clothing, canvas, and rope — for nearly 400 years. Additionally, Cannabis seed oil gained popularity as a nutritional, cosmetic, and industrial commodity, and THC was discovered to treat medical conditions, including pain, nausea, appetite loss, and glaucoma. In 1937, all forms of Cannabis became illegal to grow in the U.S. with the passing of The Marijuana Tax Act.Even today, hemp products must be imported. However, the global trend toward biofuels and renewable resources, and the search for better therapeutics have launched Cannabis into the spotlight as an attractive cash crop.“Cannabis is an ideal alternative for farmers to grow on marginal land. As opposed to cotton, it yields large quantities of durable fibers, survives northern climates, and is resistant to pests and disease,” says Weiblen.So how can science contribute to the production of a Cannabis variety not to be confused with marijuana in appearance or THC concentration?Enter Weiblen and his team of plant biologists. They have utilized a scientific technique called DNA “fingerprinting” to identify distinct DNA sequences, or “markers,” that distinguish hemp from marijuana. The process requires a very small Cannabis sample and only few days, making it a highly functional forensic tool with utility in economic and political fields.Weiblen and his researchers are also just a few genes shy of cracking the entire “cannabinoid genome,” a feat that will help pave the way to a completely drug-free, legal, Cannabis plant.“My research brings honesty and scientific facts to the debate that hopefully one day will aid in sound legislative decisions,” he concludes.The botanical debate arrives on Tuesday July 7 at 6 p.m. at the Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village. It is produced by the Telluride Science Research Center (TSRC) sponsored by the Town of Mountain Village Owners Association (TMVOA). Admission is free and there will be a cash bar.For more information please visit -- -- or call Nana Naisbitt, TSRC executive director at (970) 708-0004.Note: Pinhead Town Talk, 6 p.m., Tuesday, Conference Center.Newshawk: The GCWSource: Telluride Daily Planet (CO)Author: Lisa Christadore, TSRC Scientific Communications InternPublished: Saturday, July 4, 2009Copyright: 2009 Telluride Daily PlanetContact: editor telluridenews.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #7 posted by ezrydn on July 08, 2009 at 19:39:17 PT:
They'd Have To Learn A New Subject
And you know how the cops hate change. I don't know but I would doubt hemp would have "sticky" tops. And the idea of trying to hide one within the planting of the other is some of the most basic high school stupidity I've ever heard.We must also remember that they are a "closed" society, even to their own. That doesn't lend itself to too much new learning or thought processing.
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Comment #6 posted by heretic on July 08, 2009 at 09:04:03 PT:
cannabis is native to New England
Cannabis did not take root in the 16th century (I think the author means the 17th). It is native. In 1633, 
“John Oldham, from Dorchester, and three men with him, travelled through the wilderness to Connecticut, to view the land, and trade with the Indians. He found that the Indian hemp grew spontaneously in the meadows, in great abundance. He purchased a quantity of it. Upon trial, it appeared much to exceed the hemp which grew in England.” [A Complete History of Connecticut, by Benjamin Trumbull, 1818, Vol 1. Page 34] In October 1633, William Holmes of Plymouth colony sailed a pre-framed house up the Connecticut River to Windsor, to traffic in the hemp and beaver trade. They got away with it too.
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Comment #5 posted by knightshade on July 08, 2009 at 07:25:23 PT:
tintala with the first comment
hit it right on the money. you see, the government isnt worried about being able to tell a whole field of hemp from a whole field of indica or sativa.their excuse is that they think (or pretend to think) that the indica/sativa may be HIDING amongst the hemp. like perhaps out of 10 acres, various 'recreational plants' here and there could account for 1-2 of those acres.thats a load of malarchy, as anybody that took a biology or botany class in highschool could have 10 acres of 'marijuana' and introduce one hemp plant, not even directly in the field, but next to it, and it will pollenate the marijuana plants and turn them into hemp. therefore, their worry is baseless. 
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on July 07, 2009 at 13:10:46 PT
They can't tell the difference...
because they don't want to. They want to keep hating, fearing, and prohibiting, and profiting from the prohibition of the plant in any shape, form, or fashion, as well as the persecution of those who would use the plant... in any shape, form, or fashion.They've laid all their plans and rules on the foundation of being completely unreasonable and they have no plans for changing that love of their foundation.I don't like the tone of this article at all. Including: Weiblen and his researchers are also just a few genes shy of cracking the entire “cannabinoid genome,” a feat that will help pave the way to a completely drug-free, legal, Cannabis plant.“My research brings honesty and scientific facts to the debate that hopefully one day will aid in sound legislative decisions,” he concludes.The botanical debate arrives on Tuesday July 7 at 6 p.m. at the Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village. It is produced by the Telluride Science Research Center (TSRC) sponsored by the Town of Mountain Village Owners Association (TMVOA). Admission is free and there will be a cash bar.------------------------------What? They have cash bars to purchase alcoholic drinks at scientific conferences where they're all excited about messing with plant genomes and taking the medicinal and recreational effects out of the cannabis plant? I guess that calls for a drink... a toast, perhaps... what with greedily finding more ways to profit from prohibition of the plant.
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Comment #3 posted by Storm Crow on July 07, 2009 at 11:49:16 PT
Jones, it's way easier than that to tell! 
When you grow for fiber, you set the plants VERY close together. As the plants reach for the sun, they grow long and tall- perfect for fibers. The fiber strains have been bred for tallness and few branches. Male plants are preferred since they branch less and have better fiber. When you grow for "smoke", you set the plants so the sun can reach every part of the plant. Every plant is usually separate from the next. You want those buds to get their full dose of ultraviolet so they make more THC. They are bred to be bushier than fiber plants and usually are much shorter- especially the indica varieties. Males are normally culled, also, unless seeds are wanted. Seed plants are planted closer than "smoke" plants, but not crowded like fiber plants. A mix of females and males are needed for seeds. So this is really a bunch of BS about the cops not being able to tell fiber from seed from "smoke". Or are the cops too blind to see if the plants are growing crowded or separate, and whether there are males and females mixed together? I just don't buy their excuses! And if we legalize, all this hassle goes away! Poor people can grow their own meds. Farmers will have a new crop that doesn't need a ton of pesticides and fertilizers to grow. And bird fanciers will be very happy! (The reason that sterile hemp seed is legal is because in the late 1930s, the pigeon and cage bird breeders raised a big fuss saying they couldn't raise top quality birds without it!) 
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Comment #2 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on July 06, 2009 at 22:46:57 PT
How do the cops tell corn apart?
How do they know the difference between the corn being grown for food and the corn being grown for illegal moonshine?If they can't tell the difference, why don't they pull up all the cornfields, so they'll make sure to get the small amount of corn that is being used for unlawful distillation?How do they tell mushrooms apart? Cacti? Poppies?For that matter, how do the poor cops tell the difference between a stolen TV and one that isn't?And ANY car could not only be stolen, but might have drugs, and yet we continue to let cars be used, sold, imported, and sometimes even manufactured in this country, despite the terrible burden this puts on our police force to try and figure out who the bad cars are.Then there's the people problem, any of them could be criminals these days, not just young black males. What does a burglar look like? A rapist? A murderer?Is it any wonder that the police tend to treat us all like criminals, and anything we do, a potential crime?After all, if they didn't, they'd have to figure out what was really going on.BTW -You can tell cannabis is being grown for fiber, when they harvest the stalks.You can tell cannabis is being grown for seed, when they harvest heavily seeded flowers.You can tell cannabis is being grown for marijuana, when they harvest lightly seeded or seedless flowers.
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Comment #1 posted by tintala on July 05, 2009 at 16:45:33 PT:
Let this thc free plant pollinate
All other plants with thc and we have an epidemic of "PARTIAL THC PLANTS"? Great idea for erradcating pot. any canabis plant can be hemp.
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