Constable: ‘Ditch weed’ still part of marijuana’s new frontier in Illinois
Illinois farmers grew industrial hemp during World War II to supply our military with ropes and parachute cords. Remnants of those crops still grow wild throughout the state, but don’t have the psychoactive properties of recreational marijuana. Associated Press
In 2002, agents of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group carried stacks of marijuana plants cut from a field near Wadsworth. Grown during World War II, industrial hemp still grows wild. Courtesy of Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group
Law enforcement agents in Illinois destroyed this marijuana grown illegally near Wadsworth in 2002. Industrial hemp, remnants from a time when farmers grew it for the fiber, still grows wild in Illinois, but doesn’t provide the high of recreational marijuana. Courtesy of Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group
In the summer of 1970, when marijuana was giving Pabst Blue Ribbon a run as the drug of choice among rural teenagers, I was a sixth-grader chopping it down.
The Chicago Tribune wrote about the law enforcement billboard a few miles from our family farm outside Goodland, Indiana, that warned, “If marijuana is your bag, don’t fill it in Newton County.”
Young people, or “hippies” as they often were called then, would drive from Chicago and the suburbs to fill garbage bags with what we called “ditch weed.” That Cannabis sativa L (the L is in honor of 18th-century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus) is a subspecies of the Cannabis sativa “pot” plant that young people smoked from their “bongs” and “joints” as a way to get high.
I didn’t know anything about smoking the stuff, but I did know that ditch weed was sturdy enough to require several whacks with the scythe before it toppled. The plant could grow as tall as the basketball hoops on our farm and was tougher than the baling twine wrapped around hay harvested from the back 40.
That tough quality is why my grandfather, in a patriotic gesture, planted industrial hemp during World War II as part of the “Hemp for Victory” initiative to provide our troops with sturdy material for ropes and parachute cords.
That same industrial hemp is making a legal comeback in Illinois, according to Jeff Cox, chief of the bureau of medicinal plants for the Illinois Department of Agriculture, which has granted industrial hemp licenses to 556 growers and 118 processors this year, including some in the suburbs. It costs $100 to apply, and accepted growers can buy a license ranging from $375 for a year to $1,000 for three years.
“Most of the farmers are just testing the water,” says Cox, who adds the typical hemp field occupies only half an acre, and permits start at just half that. Indoor growing locations can be as small as 500 square feet. People are motivated to grow industrial hemp in large part because the plant produces cannabidiol, or CBD, the ingredient found in some prescribed medications and a variety of over-the-counter products that legally can’t make health claims but are hailed by some as the cure for whatever ails us.
Hemp industry leaders are hoping the plant also will find a market to make paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, flooring and animal feed.
“Hemp was grown throughout the Midwest by the hemp industries for the war. The plants we see in ditches are the remnants,” says Win Phippin, a Western Illinois University professor of plant breeding and genetics. Phippin has a permit from the Illinois Department of Agriculture to legally harvest that plant, which had been classified as a “noxious weed.”
Readers who are high right now might still be marveling about how cool it is to say Win Phippin out loud, but the rest of you should know that Phippin is harvesting wild hemp for a research project. He’s testing ditch weed and comparing its level of the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, to the levels found in marijuana plants cultivated for the purpose of getting you high. His research is expected to show the wild stuff has way less THC.
Phippin will take cuttings and replant them at his lab in Macomb, where he can evaluate them for THC levels. Industrial hemp, which was made legal to grow under the 2018 Farm Bill, generally has 0.3% or less of THC.
For comparison, the new marijuana that will be legal in Illinois on Jan. 1, 2020, includes a 10% tax on cannabis products with a THC level at or below 35%, a 20% tax on all cannabis-infused products, and a 25% tax on cannabis with a THC level above 35%.
While great care is taken to cultivate the recreational marijuana coming next year, ditch weed is hard to kill. Seventy-five years after people last grew it intentionally, it still pops up on its own. Native to Asia, the plant apparently has been around as long, if not longer, than people, according to a 1980 book titled “Marihuana: The First 12,000 Years.” It’s been in the United States since before we were the United States. The word “canvas,” the covering of choice for wagon trains, comes from the Arabic word for hemp.
Our federal government didn’t impose restrictions on its use until the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which set the tone for Congress in 1970 declaring marijuana as a Schedule I substance, illegal and without medical value, putting it in the same category as heroin and lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture says growers of industrial hemp must be licensed by the state and be subject to random testing to check THC levels. Anything above 0.7% THC is declared “wacky tobacky” and must be destroyed.
The biggest concern for people smoking ditch weed today might not be the THC level but the ingesting of chemicals used in whatever toxic weed killers the plant sucked up.
Most sixth-graders with scythes have been replaced by Roundup.
Remnants from a time when Illinois farmers grew hemp during World War II, "ditch weed" still grows wild. But only one person in the state is testing it to see how it stacks up against marijuana.
Will Ditch Weed Get You High? And Where Do You Find It For Starters?
- MO MJ MD
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Ditch weed, wild weed, or feral weed means one and the same thing. This is a weed that grows wildly in some parts of the world, and hence, belongs to no one. This sounds too good to be true to some weed lovers, but it’s a reality. In case you haven’t come across any, perhaps you are not visiting the right places. This article will tell you just where you can find some wild ganja. Unfortunately, ditch weed may not get you high as a kite, but there are still good reasons to go out hunting for it.
Cannabis has been used for medicinal, recreational and spiritual reasons for thousands of years. In the US, hemp was used as a source of fuel from as early as the 18 th century. It is believed that wild weed first originated in central Asia from where it circulated to other parts of the world. Human migration is a likely cause for the dispersion of wild cannabis seeds, though wind and water could have also played a role. As the seeds were migrated, they adapted different characteristics to suit the climatic conditions in that area.
Wild weed may not have the resplendency of cultivated weed, because the plants are not tended and cared for. They are also more likely to be found by nibbling predators that work on the plants before they are even mature. Hence, the plants are typically shorter and leaner than well-tended hybrid cannabis strains.
On the flip side, wild ganja is pure landrace weed. This means that the plants are either pure Sativas or pure indicas that are good for creating hybrids. Pure landrace strains are also good when you want pure Sativa or pure indica effects. Pure sativas will give you potent heady effects while pure indicas are good for complete body relaxation.
Marijuana loves the warm and humid tropics, but the fact that it also grows in the Himalayas means that it can adapt to different climatic conditions. Feral weed has been found in different parts of the world including Nepal, Jamaica, Mexico, Oklahoma, and parts of Africa. If you want to try out a taste of feral weed, here are a number of places to check out.
Tropical regions have the ideal conditions for feral weed, this includes good humidity levels, heat, and adequate rainfall. Strain such as Jamaica and Malawi landrace strains can be found growing as a feral weed in these regions.
Temperate regions are also known as subtropical. These regions have cooler climates and moderate rainfall throughout the year. Strains such as Swazi Gold and Lebanese red do well in these regions and may be found as a feral weed.
Hardy strains of cannabis can be found in very dry regions such as the Sinai Desert or Afghanistan. Strains such as Sinai and Afghani landrace strains may be found here as a feral weed.
Continental regions have cold dry winters and hot, wet summers. You can also find some wild weed growing in such regions. Strains such as Swiss Sativa (Switzerland) and Nepalese landrace (Nepal) can survive in continental regions.
When hunting for wild weed, autumn months are ideal because at this time the plants are likely to be flowering. You may want to time your raid so that predators don’t get there ahead of you. Remember that this weed generally has less THC, so you need to get the most potent buds loaded with kief.
As mentioned above, areas to hunt include the following:
What Is Cannabis Ruderalis?
This is a rare type of wild weed that is neither sativa nor indica. Like other feral weed, it has low THC amounts and therefore it is not used for recreational purposes. You can find this type of wild weed in some parts of Europe. People living in Mongolia and Russia have used cannabis Ruderalis for medicinal purposes for a long time.
The Law and Wild Weed
The legality of weed in the US varies from state to state, with the vast majority limiting weed to medicinal use purposes only. Well, so what happens when you stumble upon some wild ganja, are you free to take some home with you?
The law against marijuana is unfortunately very harsh. For starters, wild weed grows in some of the weirdest of places. If you can find some of this weed, you are likely to enjoy it without getting caught. Taking this home with you is a different story altogether.
Let’s say you live in Nebraska and come across some stray ganja which you indulge in. Should you get caught, you will be charged with “being in possession of,” or “being under the influence” of a prohibited substance. You will then be forced to pay a hefty fine or serve some time after you are convicted. However, you will not be charged with growing the wild weed, even if it was found on your farm.
If you live in a state where recreational weed is legal, then you are free to enjoy some wild ganja. However, you need to be acquainted with the specifics of the marijuana law in your region. Factors such as legal age, where you can smoke your weed and the amount of weed that you can be found with time vary from state to state.
Bu as much as you can enjoy wild weed, it will not get you high. Wild weed contains low amounts of THC and is better suited for relaxation and medicinal purposes.
Ditch weed, wild weed, or feral weed means one and the same thing. This is a weed that grows wildly in some parts of the world, and hence, belongs to no….