Skip to main content
Accessibility|Contact|Privacy|Terms of Service

Weeding out Marijuana - Drug-free Cannabis Plants

  • Published: 2009-09-15 : Author: University of Minnesota
  • Synopsis: Cannabis genetics can contribute to better agriculture, medicine, and drug enforcement.

Main Document

In a first step toward engineering a drug-free Cannabis plant for hemp fiber and oil, University of Minnesota researchers have identified genes producing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance in marijuana. Studying the genes could also lead to new and better drugs for pain, nausea and other conditions.

Weeding out marijuana: Researchers close in on engineering recognizable, drug-free Cannabis plant

U of Minnesota researchers identify genes producing THC

In a first step toward engineering a drug-free Cannabis plant for hemp fiber and oil, University of Minnesota researchers have identified genes producing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance in marijuana. Studying the genes could also lead to new and better drugs for pain, nausea and other conditions.

The finding is published in the September issue of the Journal of Experimental Botany . Lead author is David Marks, a professor of plant biology in the College of Biological Sciences.

The study revealed that the genes are active in tiny hairs covering the flowers of Cannabis plants. In marijuana, the hairs accumulate high amounts of THC, whereas in hemp the hairs have little. Hemp and marijuana are difficult to distinguish apart from differences in THC.

With the genes identified, finding a way to silence them and thus produce a drug-free plant "comes a step closer to reality. Another desirable step is to make drug-free plants visually recognizable. Since the hairs can be seen with a magnifying glass, this could be accomplished by engineering a hairless Cannabis plant.

The researchers are currently using the methods of the latest study to identify genes that lead to hair growth in hopes of silencing them.

"We are beginning to understand which genes control hair growth in other plants, and the resources created in our study will allow us to look for similar genes in Cannabis sativa," said Marks.

"Cannabis genetics can contribute to better agriculture, medicine, and drug enforcement," said George Weiblen, an associate professor of plant biology and a co-author of the study.

As with Dobermans and Dachshunds, marijuana and hemp are different breeds of the same species (Cannabis sativa), but marijuana contains much more THC than hemp, which is a source of industrial fiber and nutritious oil.

Hemp was raised for its fiber "which is similar to cotton but more durable "in the United States until legislation outlawed all Cannabis plants because they contain THC. Today, marijuana contains as much as 25 percent THC, whereas hemp plants contain less than 0.3 percent.

Hemp was once a popular crop in the upper Midwest because it tolerates a cool climate and marginal soils that won't support other crops but, after drug legislation, hemp fiber was replaced by plastic and other alternatives. Recent popular demand for hemp products has led some states to consider the economic and environmental benefits of hemp. North Dakota legislation aims to reintroduce it as a crop, and Minnesota is considering similar legislation. At the same time, California and other states permit the medicinal use of marijuana.

"I can't think of a plant so regarded as a menace by some and a miracle by others," says Weiblen, who is one of the few researchers in the United States permitted to study Cannabis genetics. In 2006, Weiblen and colleagues developed a DNA "fingerprinting" technique capable of distinguishing among Cannabis plants in criminal investigations.

Similar Topics

1 : U.S. Medical Cannabis Protections Extended to 46 States : Ultra Health.
2 : Medical Cannabis Significantly Safer than Opioids for Seniors with Chronic Pain : American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
3 : Medical Marijuana for Age-Related Pain Treatment : Care By Design.
4 : Medical Marijuana for Children with Epilepsy : Thomas C. Weiss.
5 : Cannabis Infused Health & Fitness Drinks : PyoorCBD.
From our Medical Marijuana section - Full List (46 Items)


Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.





1 : Millennials Fail to Understand Dangers of Tanning
2 : Appetite Loss After Exercising Explained
3 : Bias Keeps Women with Higher Body Weight Away From the Doctor
4 : Smart Hoteliers are Building a Healthier Future
5 : Teaching Baby Sign Language - Nita, Show Us More
6 : MitoQ Novel Antioxidant Makes Old Arteries Seem Young Again
7 : Telemedicine Helps Overcome Healthcare Gender Based Barriers
8 : Screen Reader Plus Keyboard Helps Blind, Low-Vision Users Browse Modern Webpages


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.

© 2004 - 2018 Disabled World™