Gene Discovered Differentiating Hemp from Marijuana

  • 12 years of study a US researcher has found that a single gene differentiates the two varieties of cannabis. According to the scientist his finding demonstrates that laws should allow the cultivation of hemp in the country, in light of its genetic distinction from marijuana

While marijuana is rich in THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, hemp produces more CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Although this fact has been known for a long time, the genetic difference between the two varieties was not clear. George Weiblen, a scientist at the University of Minnesota, has just published a study demonstrating that a single gene accounts for the difference between the two varieties.

Weiblen worked with different cannabis plants for 12 years before reaching this conclusion. This researcher and his collaborators at the University of Mississippi, co-authors of the study, work in two of the few laboratories in the country with federal permission to study cannabis, as research in this field is strictly controlled by the law.

“It is a very economically important plant that has been misunderstood scientifically. Through this study we have indisputable proof that there are genetic differences between the two varieties of cannabis,” explained Weiblen.

Since 1970 all cannabis plants have been classified as controlled substances by the US federal government, although almost half of the country’s states, including Minnesota, distinguish hemp from marijuana.

Although the market for hemp seeds and fibres was worth over 600 million dollars (549 million euros) last year, due to its popularity for the manufacturing of clothes and personal care products, and for use in construction, the commercial cultivation of hemp is prohibited. All these products are imported into the United States.

Weiblen believes that the discovery of this gene will bolster the argument made by hemp producers that their crops should not be subject to the same laws as marijuana. “We have a Controlled Substances Law that defines all cannabis plants as marijuana and that does not reflect the biological reality,” the researcher concludes.


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