Genetically Modified Marijuana
by Andrew Walden August, 2004
Medical marijuana advocates would do well to examine anti-genetic modification efforts in California. These California initiatives are a back-door way of re-prohibiting medical marijuana under the guise of banning GM plants.
California leads the nation in medical marijuana with the 1996 voter approval of California Proposition 215. Yet Northern California’s Mendocino County, where marijuana is reputedly the single largest cash crop, on March 2, 2004, passed a voter initiative outlawing genetically modified (GM) crops from farmers’ fields. This initiative bans all genetically modified plants--including GM marijuana. On August 3, Trinity County, California became the second county in America to ban the production of GM crops and animals. Four other California counties; Butte, Humboldt (another big marijuana producer), Marin, and San Luis Obispo, will vote in November on GM crop bans.
By approving the anti-GM initiative, voters in Mendocino County, have unwittingly given a weapon to drug enforcement agents who can now use these voter-approved anti-GM ordinances to justify raids against marijuana cultivators--even small growers within the “medical marijuana” limits. What protesters and voters alike have missed is that today’s potent varieties of marijuana were developed by genetic modification.
By treating cannabis seeds with the powerful, readily available, mutagen colchicine, genetically modified “polyploid” marijuana, with higher levels of marijuana’s active ingredient THC, is created. Simple genetic testing of confiscated marijuana by police laboratories can easily determine if plants are polyploid (have more than the usual two sets of chromosomes) and therefore illegal under the new GM crop bans.
The “BC Growers Association” website carries a long dissertation on the use of colchicine to create new marijuana varieties with higher THC content. The BC growers say, “Many clandestine cultivators have started polyploid strains with colchicine.”
The website, www.Dutch-ganja.com says, “Polyploid Cannabis plants were produced by treatment with the alkaloid colchicine. Polyploids contained higher concentrations of the ‘active ingredient.’"
R. C. Clarke’s paper, “Weed Botany” states, “(Colchicine) treated plants showed a 166-250% increase in THC…possibly colchicine or the resulting polyploidy interferes with cannabinoid biogenesis to favor THC.”
Any who pass by an anti-Genetically Modified (GM) foods rally can attest to the connection between the protesters and marijuana. The pungent aroma of their beloved herb wafts through the air, taunting crowd-control police to enforce the ever-weakening laws against marijuana possession. There is a hilarious piece of satire floating around the internet which speculates about the deleterious effect on the anti-GM movement when future scientists devise a genetically modified “super weed” marijuana strain.
Apparently the protesters and the anonymous satirist don’t know--the future is already here--and anti-GM activists are causing pro-medical marijuana California voters to vote marijuana right back into illegality.
GOOGLE: “Genetically Modified Marijuana”
GOOGLE: Marijuana Colchicine