The soil purifying ability of cannabis has long been known by industrial cultivators of hemp throughout history. Hemp plays a major role in a crop rotation cycle due to its innate ability to clean and enrich soil that has become damaged from the cultivation of other major industrial crops. Hemp cultivation gives back to the land it grows from, which can then increase profitability of other crops for farmers.
The terminology ‘weed’ for marijuana didn’t just crop up out of thin air. It refers to the ability of cannabis to grow in inhospitable environments would cause other plants to suffer. It does this by removing toxic heavy metals from soils. In fact, it’s so effective that it has been utilized in the lands around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine to remove radioactive contaminants.
Recent research into the soil purifying ability of hemp at Pennsylvania State University has revealed some developments into how the process of decontamination occurs…
Toxic soil produces clean hemp
The study shows that in addition to hemp's ability to produce clean soil, it also produces more CBD in the buds when stressed by toxic soil than when grown in clean soil. All without increasing the THC or heavy-metal levels in the hemp buds.
Although no details of the analysis of the buds were published, the researchers advised that when the buds were tested for heavy-metals, none were present. Sairam Rudrabhatla, who led the study, stated “We did see metal uptake in the leaves and removal from the soil but not in the floral buds.”
The process of removing toxic material using cannabis, called cannabis phytoremediation, has been a technique commonly employed by those wishing to purify land. However, the ability to produce more CBD per CBD flower bud without affecting their toxicity, is a development which can have potential uses in increasing the CBD production in hemp crops.
Effects on the hemp market?
Naturally, the market interest for people consuming CBD products from hemp grown in heavily contaminated soil could be an issue. As stated by Chris Boucher, the co-founder of Hemp Industries Association, who stated, “The main part of the market will probably be a little fearful of hemp grown in toxic soil. That’s the dilemma I see. Right now, they’re beating the drum: ‘If you don’t use organic, it will be toxic and poisonous.’”
So, although the property of hemp to clean soil of heavy metals whilst increasing CBD production is remarkable, we may not see any change to the hemp market due to the consumer requirement of purchasing organic CBD products. More peer-reviewed clinical research in this area over time could prove useful in potentially swaying consumer opinion.