Pubdate: Thu, 06 Dec 2001
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
Address: 100 Midland Avenue, Lexington, Ky. 40508
Email:  2001 Lexington Herald-Leader
Fax: 606-255-7236
Author: T. D. Ruth
Bookmark: (Hemp)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Although the regular dialogue in the local media on industrial hemp is 
appreciated, the physical distinctions between hemp and marijuana and the 
result of cultivating the two together are often glossed over and lend to 
misinterpretation of the facts.

Although the two look very similar as young plants, their distinctions 
become very obvious as they mature. Hemp is tall and lanky with very few 
leaves and fewer branches; marijuana is much shorter and very bushy.

Hemp matures much faster than marijuana (90 days versus 120 days). By the 
time farmers begin harvesting hemp, the pot would have just begun to 
develop its flowers, the only part of a marijuana plant that is of value 
for drug use.

One of hemp's primary uses in cultivation is as a weed killer. Because hemp 
naturally grows much faster and taller than pot and because hemp plants are 
grown very close together -- 7- to 14-inch separation in row crops -- it 
creates a canopy over the pot, blocking the light and killing marijuana 
plant with all the other weeds.

Even if the pot did reach maturity, its value as a drug crop would be 
greatly reduced because of cross-pollination. The hemp grown around the 
world today has as little as 0.03 percent THC; marijuana typically has 14 
percent to 24 percent THC.

The concentration of hemp pollen not only creates seeds, which decreases 
the quality of the flowers on its own, but also generates a lower THC 
marijuana plant on subsequent generations.

T.D. Ruth, Louisville
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