By Leo E Mueller, Quincy Herald-Whig
In response to:
Local farmer promotes hemp as alternative crop, Sunday, April 30, 2000
To The Herald-Whig:
Quincy, Illinois — Again I see that an effort is under way to promote hemp farming locally. Again I feel compelled to set the record straight regarding certain statements made in an article appearing in the April 30 Herald-Whig. Too often when totally untrue statements are presented as fact they are accepted as such in the absence of accurate information.
Let me establish my qualifications to comment. I have been offering expert witness testimony on the subject of cannabis identification since the early 1980s. I have degrees in science, police (forensic) science, and have done graduate work that included research into plant drugs. I am a certified marijuana leaf examiner. I am also a master herbologist.
Now, to the important facts: There is only one species of cannabis. The Herald-Whig article correctly stated that cannabis sativa is the only species of cannabis. However, the article implies a botanical difference between marijuana and hemp. There is no difference. In the family of cannabanacea the are two genuses. They are cannabis and humulus. Humulus has two species (h. lupulus and h. japonicas). Cannabis is a monotypic genus – one species. That is cannabis sativa. Let me make this a bit simpler. The marijuana cultivated for smoking in Mexico or Hawaii is no different than the marijuana (hemp) that is being proposed as an alternate crop for farmers. Marijuana is marijuana. There is one, and only one, cannabis species. That is cannabis sativa. We cannot change scientific fact through legislation (such as “redefining” cannabis sativa 1. as suggested in the April 30 article.
The Herald-Whig article stated that marijuana (hemp) was grown in Illinois during the World War II era. Today if you ride along the gravel roads of the North Bottoms, or many other places in Illinois, you will find wild marijuana growing (sometimes called “dirtweed”). This marijuana is often sought out and smoked locally. Much of it is the result of that World War II-era farming of hemp, according to expert sources.
Marijuana is a very interesting plant. It is quite hardy and a good survivor. It will secrete resins to protect itself from moisture loss, especially in hot, sunny environments. One of the cannabinoids, the psychoactive ingredient delta 9 thc, is found in these resins. So, in a given hot, dry summer, local dirtweed can become quite potent. As far as the seeds are concerned, if you take local dirtweed seeds and grow them in Mexico, after a few generations you will have “mexican.” The reverse is also true. As I said, there is no botanical difference between cannabis indicas, c. ruderalis, c. mexicanas, etc. – they are all cannabis sativa.
The bottom line is this: The “hemp” proposed as an alternate farm crop is marijuana, the same stuff that is illegal and psychoactive. From a forensic perspective, the problems of legalizing “hemp” while continuing to outlaw “marijuana” would be significant. You would in essence be legalizing marijuana.
This is not the first time that this issue has come up and I’m sure it won’t be the last. If a decision is to be made that would impact the legalization of marijuana, the issue should be decided on facts.
Leo E. Mueller, AS, AAS, BA
Diplomate, American College of Forensic Examiners
Local farmer promotes hemp as alternative crop
Saturday, April 29, 2000
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