Dangerous hemp

University research demonstrates the irrationality of U.S. pot policy.

Scientists in the College of Biological Sciences have identified the genes in Cannabis sativa responsible for the production of psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Cannabis can be used for both industrial hemp and marijuana production, although the appearance and chemical composition vary similar to the difference between dog breeds. This research is a clear reminder of the folly of AmericaâÄôs ill-conceived marijuana policy; where worries about individual recreational use has spilled over onto the unrelated issue of hemp cultivation. Current industrial hemp varieties have THC levels at or below 0.3%, while the average THC content of marijuana is above 10% and can surpass 30%. Fearing this trace amount of THC, scientists hope to apply this research to genetically engineer a fully-THC free plant. Hemp was once a widespread crop throughout the upper Midwest. Its long, strong fibers were used to make cloth, paper, and rope while the oil in the seeds was important in food and cosmetics . The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 banned hemp production , fearing cultivation could mask the growth of marijuana. But no industrial farmer would risk the quality of hemp fiber or seed oil by cross-planting marijuana. Despite the domestic ban, hemp production has continued abroad and hemp-based products are increasingly imported. Furthermore, hempâÄôs rapid growth and woody interior make it a leading candidate to replace flawed corn-based ethanol as a renewable fuel. The UniversityâÄôs research did not make hemp plants more productive, demonstrate new uses, or find techniques for converting hemp into bio-fuel. The perceived necessity of removing the minimal amount of THC in hemp is solely based on an irrational fear of marijuana.