Monsanto, the multi-billion agribusiness giant, has announced it has patented the first genetically modified strain of marijuana.
The news has been welcomed by some scientists and leaders of the agriculture business. On one hand it is seen as a potential step forward towards the industrial use of marijuana and hemp products and could bring about a major shift towards marijuana policies in the U.S.A.
…But on the other hand, other prominent figures in the community fear genetically modified cannabis will mix with other strains and could destroy the diversity of DNA, a reality some deem a very real threat if we look atrecent examples of GM maize ‘accidentally’ cross-breading with non-GM maize.
Under present US federal law, it is illegal to possess, use, buy, sell, or cultivate marijuana, since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, although it has been decriminalized to some extent in certain states, Monsanto’s interest in the field has been interpreted by experts as the precursor to “a major shift in marijuana policy in the US”.
It is believed the company would not have invested so much time and energy if it had not had “previous knowledge” of the Federal government’s “openness” towards the future legalization of marijuana.
Advocates for the legalization of marijuana see the move of Monsanto to work on GM marijuana strains as a “suspicious but welcomed step towards legalization on a massive scale” in the US.
Lawyer and marijuana law specialist, Edmund Groensch, of the Drug Policy Alliance, admits Monsanto’s involvement in marijuana projects could definitely help the pro-legalization activists.
“Currently, Federal law criminalizes marijuana and hemp derivatives because public opinion is still against it and legal commercial production in the U.S. is currently handled by a patchwork of small farmers whom are not trusted by investors. A major player as Monsanto could bring confidence within government and towards investors in the market if it were to own a large part of the exploitable lands and commercial products”.
There are even some experts such as James Adamson, president of Medical Marijuana Technologies, who believes that the only way marijuana is to become fully legal in the US is through the branding of a controlled GM strain.
“There is presently no way to control the production of marijuana and the quality of the strains. A GM strain produced by a company with the credentials and prestige of Monsanto would definitely lend a massive hand to pro-legalization activists within certain spheres of government and within the business world” he explains.
Although Monsanto’s testing on cannabis is only at an experimental stage, no plan has yet been released by the agriculture business firm as to what purposes the patented strain would be used for…