What is Ditch Weed, and is it Any Good?

If you live in one of the 33 states where marijuana is legal for medical use, it is likely that you will find it easy to locate decent quality weed. The times are very much a-changing for this controversial crop to the benefit of cannabis consumers. Up until fairly recently, before medical marijuana laws came into play, pot users needed to find a shady dealer in an unlit parking lot and hope they didn’t get ripped off.

‘Schwag’ or ‘brick weed,’ an extremely low-quality form of marijuana, was standard, and it wasn’t as if you could complain to the police since it was an illegal substance all over the United States.

If you believe the days of crap cannabis are gone, you are mistaken! There is still plenty of bad weed around even though states where pot is legal recreationally, have a surplus of the good stuff. One form of low-grade cannabis that you definitely won’t find in a dispensary is ditch weed, and the name helps explain what it is.

Weed in the Wild

Also known as ‘feral’ marijuana, ditch weed is a slang term for cannabis grown in the wild. As the name suggests, you can find it on the side of the road. Some people say that if you dry and cure it properly, it is might possible to get a semblance of a cerebral high from ditch weed, perhaps better than the garbage that the federal government allows to grow at the University of Mississippi. However, ditch weed is extremely low in THC for a very good reason, which suggests that tales of ditch weed ‘highs’ are exaggerated.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), ditch weed is defined as wild and scattered marijuana plants with no evidence of being planted, fertilized or tended. In 1914, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that hemp was abundant as a wild plant in many locations in the Midwest including Iowa, western Missouri, and southern Minnesota.

Indeed, ditch weed was cultivated in many parts of the Midwest in the early to mid-20th century. It proved especially useful during World War II as it helped create materials to support the war effort. Ditch weed is exceptionally tough and disperses its seeds across a large area. These seeds can lie dormant for up to a decade before sprouting!

Today, if you drive along certain parts of Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas, you will be able to see fields of ditch weed, and there are also strands of it lying along the road. If you decide to stop and take a look, you will be surprised by the pungent odor. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to see feral marijuana, rest assured, it is EASY to spot.

It is very tall in relation to surrounding plants and also varies significantly in color and shape. Feral weed plants can grow up to nine feet tall and its emerald-green color, coupled with its Christmas tree shape, means it can be spotted from miles away.

You may be tempted to fill up your car’s boot with ditch weed, but there is only one problem; it is descended from industrial hemp, which means the THC content is minimal. If you have never got high before, it is possible to get a slight buzz, but it isn’t a memorable experience. Another reason why it is so abundant is that it has no value for livestock, which means it remains relatively untouched by wildlife. We have heard that quail and pheasants enjoy munching on it, however.

Is Ditch Weed Legal?

The obvious answer seems to be ‘yes’ since it is descended from industrial hemp and is very low in THC. The Farm Bill means that it is legal to grow industrial hemp anywhere in the United States. However, there appears to be no clear definition which means it is possible to be arrested if caught in possession of ditch weed.

This is especially the case in states such as Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska where marijuana is still illegal. It is also a fact that local police in small towns watch out for individuals who try to fill up a vehicle with what they think is a free goldmine. You may ultimately escape without a criminal conviction, but you are all but guaranteed an uncomfortable afternoon at the police station.

Some individuals try to circumnavigate the law by deliberately planting marijuana seeds in ditches before later coming back for it. The rationale behind this tactic is the DEA’s stance of ditch weed which says that it grows in the wild with no evidence that it was part of planned cultivation. Once again, we don’t recommend testing out this theory.

Various authorities in the Midwest have tried to eradicate feral cannabis. The DEA created its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression program in 1979 and uses federal funds to eradicate marijuana. Within 13 years, the program eradicated 118 million feral plants against just 6 million cultivated ones.

In 2003, a report claimed that 99% of eradicated weed was feral. In Minnesota, ditch weed is one of “11 noxious prohibited weeds” known for damaging farming equipment. However, because there is so much feral cannabis which grows freely, some states have given up the fight. In Indiana for example, authorities have effectively ended eradication efforts. One member of the police force said it was about as easy to get rid of ditch weed as it is to eradicate dandelions!

Final Thoughts on Ditch Weed

If you are driving in the Midwest and happen to see a field of ditch weed, feel free to stop your car to marvel at the tall plants and perhaps get its powerful scent. However, do not take some home with you.

Chances are, the state you are currently in still prohibits marijuana, and it is unlikely that law enforcement will distinguish between hemp and cannabis. There is no point taking ditch weed home with you in any case because it is extremely low in THC and the quality of the bud is likely to be poor.

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