Is your weed GMO free, or does it even matter if you have fair trade organic small batch marijuana? With Oregon and Alaska celebrating their victories in the war on marijuana prohibition, and Washington, D.C. legalizing the possession of pot while the sale of it is still illegal, new questions are being raised about the future of the marijuana and hemp industry and the role GMO giants like Monsanto will play in its cultivation.

Oregon failed to pass Measure 92 which would have required food manufacturers to label any of their foods that contain GMO as such, and paired with Measure 91 legalizing marijuana in Oregon, this brings up new ethical concerns about the well-being of the plant. Without standards for labeling GMO products, we can be sure chemically altered pot edibles will start filling up the shelves, and people will have no idea which of their favorite products was modified or is truly organic.

However, this begs a different question first: what is GMO marijuana? And what’s the difference between it and organic weed?

This may come as a surprise to some, but if you’ve been smoking pot anytime in the 21st century, you’re most likely smoking a GMO strain. Back in the 1970’s, weed used to be much weaker generally, as most of it was grown naturally without pesticides or chemical alteration, it didn’t look or smoke anything like what we have today. So if you’re looking for non-GMO marijuana, you’re gonna find something that most would just call “schwag” – nearly everyone is smoking GMO pot, because that’s the best that’s around – and they don’t even think twice about it.

To give a little more background info, through a specific botanical process (a little too complex to go into here) female marijuana plants can be self-fertilized, rendering the need for a male plant to nil, and protecting the female plants from accidental pollination. Most of the time this would be considered genetic modification since a human would be altering the natural cycle, but since marijuana plants have the ability to do this naturally it’s not considered as such.

Northwest Leaf spoke out on the subject recently, and have a good take on it:

“If a plant has the natural ability to create male sexual organs on a female plant of that species, does that make it a genetically modified seed? Technically, no, because it is a natural occurrence and not a product of human influence. If you were to apply a chemical solution to a plant with the intention of manipulating its genome to produce female seeds or if you use agriculture engineering techniques such as site-directed mutagenesis, those processes would render your final product a genetically modified organism.”

With the way farming laws in the United States currently are, any seeds planted for cultivation must be purchased directly from Monsanto in “Round-Up ready” form – some farmers have been jailed for up to 8 years for saving the seeds from their own crops in order to plant the following year, instead of buying the legally-mandated seeds from the gigantic corporation. These laws will also be in effect on the farming of marijuana.

Colorado is a good example of how the legalization of marijuana is going to change the way our society works, and we can already see millions of dollars in extra taxes flooding into the government. With that demand, Colorado is seeing its supply of weed run out very quickly, and new methods of farming the plant to keep up with demand is underway. This is where the GMO plants will come more into play. Farmers want better plants with more and more THC and CBD, and they need as many more growing plants as resources will allow for – pushing all the marijuana plants into completely unnatural states to produce the sheer amount of product they need to sell. This will drive the genetic modification of weed until all that’s left is a processing plant somewhere driving mass production of a synthetic pill called “Marinol” that’s supposed to work in a similar way to marijuana, but just becomes another controlled chemical substance created by another pharmaceutical colossus trying to get rich.

Therefore, getting non-GMO weed may be more difficult than some may have thought – and “organic” marijuana prices may skyrocket, similar to the general foods industry in America.

Is the legalization of marijuana in all these states a great thing as many are celebrating, or does a more ominous future lie ahead?

Is the legalization actually being pushed by companies like Monsanto themselves, as corporations learn how much money they can make off this once-illegal industry as long as they have a controlling hand in it?

Let us know your thoughts below!

Additional image: Flickr



Ryan Tindrick
Ryan Tindrick
Filmmaker; a writer, a director, a producer, a cinematographer, a visual designer, a photographer, an actor, an editor, and some days... just a grip.