Technology would be the last thing that people associate marijuana with. If anything, people will associate marijuana with artists in music and art. Psychedelics has long been used by people in music and arts. Bob Marley is a trite example, but he did write some of his best music under the influence. At the moment, some of the biggest stars in Hollywood like Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and others are not shying away from showing their love for marijuana. Marijuana and art have a long history. However, a lot of people do not know that science too is influenced immensely by marijuana. In particular, many innovations that are being implemented in modern agriculture were first conducted by marijuana growers.
The same way ordinary farmers develop new varieties and strains in their crops of rice, wheat, corn and others, marijuana growers have been developing different strains of cannabis since the domestication of marijuana began. Now, we have strains of cannabis that will give you hard-hitting high, while there are strains of cannabis that have no psychedelic effects and instead possess medicinal benefits. The same to how you can get different varieties and strains of vegetables for different prices and in different markets, now these strains of cannabis are now available at different price ranges and for different purposes. You can have a look at the price for different types of strain here.
The work of marijuana growers goes beyond developing different strains of cannabis. In order to address the seemingly insurmountable challenges of cultivating a plant that is deemed illicit, marijuana growers have developed different technological advancements. Soon enough, these technologies are now being used by mainstream farmers. Unfortunately, due to marijuana prohibition, many of the advancements that mainstream farming has adopted from marijuana growers are not correctly attributed to the marijuana industry. Despite the abundance of information online and offline, ordinary people and even some of the prominent people in the scientific community are largely unaware that marijuana growers have developed many of the farming techniques that are now being applied in the farming of other crops. Marijuana’s status as an illicit drug does not help in disseminating information about the contributions of marijuana growers to modern agriculture.
HOW MARIJUANA BECAME ILLEGAL?
Before we discuss the contribution of marijuana growers to modern-day agriculture, it is very important to learn what led to the prohibition of marijuana.
From the 1800s to the early 1900s, much of the world was plagued with the widespread use of opium. This plant, like marijuana, grew natively in many parts of Asia. Both plants have known psychedelic as well as medicinal effects. In fact, Opium was first introduced in North America by doctors who prescribed this plant for various ailments and for pain relief. In particular, the soldiers who were returning from the Civil War were given opium as analgesics for their injuries. The use of opium further became prevalent as the Chinese immigrated to the United States in a huge number. Unlike with American soldiers and patients who were using opium for medicinal purposes, Chinese migrants were aware of the recreational use of this drug. Around this time, marijuana was being promoted as medicine for gastrointestinal problems. However, its recreational use was also known.
Opium addiction became common in the US. By 1895, it was estimated that 1 in 200 Americans is suffering from opiate addiction. This grew further that by 1900, opium and morphine addiction has become a national epidemic. In response, the Harrison Narcotic Act was signed into law in 1914 prohibiting the recreational use of opiate drugs. During this time, Congress also banned alcohol under the Wartime Prohibition Act.
With the contemporary attitude of the American public to both alcoholic and opiate substances, the use of marijuana as medicine has met with strong criticism. In 1937, marijuana became illegal in the United States under the Marijuana Tax Law. Marijuana’s status as a prohibited drug became more prevalent as countries worldwide signed the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961. The U.S. Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance in 1971, cementing the country’s attitude against marijuana.
HOW THE ILLEGAL STATUS OF MARIJUANA BECAME A CATALYST FOR INNOVATIONS IN FARMING?
Innovation is a product of need. When needs arise, a person has no choice but to innovate – to develop a new technology to address that need. In terms of the prohibition of marijuana, growers are faced with the need to cultivate this plant in secrecy.
The need to cultivate this plant in secrecy has resulted in various methods that allowed marijuana growers to grow this plant in small and enclosed space, indoors. Due to the lack of natural sources of light, air, and water, marijuana growers have innovated on various inventions to provide their crops with light, air, and water in enclosed and tight spaces.
The costliness of maintaining an artificial environment in an enclosed space has also resulted in innovations that have made farming of marijuana more affordable, more sustainable and even more environment-friendly.
The innovations that were produced were later on adopted by mainstream farmers and scientists in mainstream agriculture. To this day, not a lot of people not realize or are aware of how extensive did marijuana cultivation has advanced modern-day farming with innovative technologies that were developed in efforts to cultivate this crop in secrecy and safety.
WHAT ARE THE INNOVATIONS DEVELOPED IN MARIJUANA CULTIVATION THAT ARE NOW BEING USED IN MAINSTREAM AGRICULTURE?
The practice of growing plants indoors in itself actually unheard of before marijuana growers have started using them. Technologies such as hydroponics, aeroponics, grow-lights and others were developed in the race to cultivate these herbs indoors. These technologies are now being used by mainstream farmers to plant crops like lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries and other herbs. This concept is now being promoted by some government and non-government agencies as part of the efforts for urban gardening. Farmers in regions with cold and dark winters have also adopted these technologies so they can plant their crops year-round. Furthermore, there are even scientific institutions that are using these methods for research and even to grow saplings for reforestation efforts.
As mentioned before, an unintended side effect of the attempts by marijuana growers to cultivate marijuana in secrecy is to create an artificial indoor environment for farming. However, this kind of farming is incredibly expensive. The lack of obvious plants growing in the backyard may hide the operations. However, the exorbitant cost of the bills for electricity and water can easily tick off authorities that something is amiss. Therefore, many marijuana growers have come up with various ways of sustainable and ecological farming practices that lower the bills of electricity and. By lowering the consumption of electricity and water, marijuana growers have inevitably developed farming practices that are low in carbon emission and low in wastage. Among the technologies developed include hydroponic gardens that recycle water around instead of throwing them away. The use of LED lights and solar power have also contributed to lower carbon emissions. Similarly, the use of pesticides was eradicated by marijuana growers because they are indoors. Many growers have also used organic farming starting with a concoction of soil made from organic household wastes. These sustainable farming methods are now being religiously implemented in some of the biggest farm in the country. As our society start to rethink the way we are destroying our planets, scientists, experts, and policymakers are now endorsing these sustainable gardening techniques to mainstream farmers.
These are just a few of the long list of the important contributions of marijuana cultivation to modern-day agriculture. With the legalization of cannabis use and trade, marijuana growers now have the legroom to actually conduct real research on this herb. Not only are we learning more about how to properly cultivate this plant, but we are also learning more about its medicinal and health value.