Also known as ‘feral’ marijuana, ditch weed is a slang term for cannabis grown in the wild . 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.
It may be tempting to fill up your car’s boot with ditch weed. However, there is one problem; it is descended from industrial hemp , so its THC content is minimal.
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!
Weed in the Wild.
Today, if you drive through 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.
Now, there is still plenty of bad weed around, even though states where cannabis is legal recreationally, have a surplus. However, one form of low-grade cannabis that you definitely won’t find in a dispensary is ditch weed. Read on to find out more.
If you live in a state where marijuana is legal for medical use , it is easy to locate high-quality cannabis. However, this certainly wasn’t the case over the last few decades. Federal policy towards marijuana meant that cannabis lovers had to sometimes settle for less than top-shelf weed.
The obvious answer seems to be ‘yes’ since it is descended from industrial hemp and is very low in THC. The Farm Bill of 2018 means that it is legal to grow industrial hemp in almost all states. However, there appears to be no clear definition, which means it is possible to be arrested if caught in possession of ditch weed.
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.
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 that grows freely, some states have given up the fight. In Indiana, for example, authorities have effectively ended eradication efforts. One police force member said it was about as easy to get rid of ditch weed as it is to eradicate dandelions!
Is Ditch Weed Legal?
This is especially the case in states such as Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska, where marijuana is still illegal. Reportedly local police in small towns watch out for individuals attempting to fill up a vehicle with what they think is a free goldmine.
As the name suggests, you can find it on the side of the road. Some people say that if you dry and cure it adequately, it may still be usable. However, we wouldn’t advise consuming it if you want to experience an intoxicating high. Ditch weed is extremely low in THC, suggesting that tales of ditch weed ‘highs’ are exaggerated.
Ditch weed is extremely low in THC, suggesting that tales of ditch weed ‘highs’ are exaggerated.
Some individuals try to circumnavigate the law by deliberately planting marijuana seeds in ditches before returning for it. The rationale behind this tactic is the DEA’s stance on 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.
Where Can You Find Ditch Weed?
‘Schwag’ or ‘brick weed,’ an extremely low-quality form of marijuana, was standard. It wasn’t as if you could complain to the police since marijuana was illegal all over the United States.
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 these tall plants. However, do not take some home with you.
Ditch weed is very tall compared 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.
Within 13 years, a DEA program eradicated 118 million feral plants against just 6 million cultivated ones.
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.
Ditch weed can be found on the side of the road as well, hence the name. When it is dried, cured, and smoked, ditch weed makes for a decent head high. Ditch weed is related to and descended from industrial hemp plants that were produced for fiber, so it typically has low amounts of THC.
Some ditch weed may just be randomly growing, likely to have come from hemp crops that have reseeded themselves. Hemp is a wild plant found in the Midwest and states like Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota.
Ditch weed is a slang term referring to cannabis that grows in the wild. It is also called feral weed.
Maximum Yield Explains Ditch Weed.
Another theory behind ditch weed is that it grows from seeds that were present in the roach of a joint that was tossed out the window. All of these theories means that ditch weed is scattered about instead of appearing in an organized grid or layout.
Some people have been known to deliberately plant seeds in the ditches and come back for it, in order to avoid the law. This is because as by DEA definitions, ditch weed has no evidence of being the result of planned cultivation, and is assumed to have grown in wild.
Ditch weed can grow to be eight or nine feet tall, but because it isn't tended to like farmed, indoor-grown, or greenhouse plants, the buds are not as sticky. Also, the run-off of pesticides or toxins on the road likely affect the quality of the bud, depending on the location and climate.
Ditch weed is considered to be low quality buds because it is not fertilized or tended to.
Across the Atlantic, cannabis ruderalis is the Asian, Central and Eastern European, and Russian version of ditch weed. Named because of its propensity to grow in less than ideal environments (the definition of ruderal is a plant growing on waste ground or among refuse, from the Latin “rudus” meaning rubble), cannabis ruderalis is a short and bushy plant whose genetics lay somewhere between indica and sativa and are adapted to their local environments.
Our forebears who understood cannabis’ therapeutic benefits didn’t grow cannabis in warehouses or massive greenhouses. They found it in its natural habitat, in the hills and countryside around them. And wild, aka feral cannabis, can be found growing practically everywhere throughout the world and on every continent with the exception of Antarctica.
You’ve probably heard of ditch weed, a term that’s used to refer to cannabis that grows wild here in the U.S. The name suggests its ability to grow anywhere, “even in a ditch.” The theory goes that ditch weed is a descendent of industrial hemp which was bred and cultivated legally prior to the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.
The majority of modern consumers will never encounter ditch weed, but a large majority will encounter buds grown from autoflowering seeds. The cannabis that most of us know and love is very different from wild-growing cannabis plants, but the two share a deep connection, both in showing us how far we’ve come, and helping to create the next generation of cannabis.
However, here’s the thing about ditch weed. Even if you stumbled into a field of it, you wouldn’t necessarily want to bother consuming it. Ditch weed is full of seeds and is low in both cannabinoids in general, and THC specifically. Nonetheless, that doesn’t stop the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) from attempting to eradicate it. Even today, when more Americans than ever have access to quality, legal pot, the organization spends millions of taxpayer dollars trying to get rid of it. While it can be smokeable, the kind of low-quality experience it offers is the exact sort of thing that drives the push for better standards in legalized and medical cannabis markets.
What is Ditch Weed?
T oday’s cannabis consumers are a lucky bunch. In the modern cannabis market, cannabis is frequently grown indoors in optimal conditions. Cannabinoid-rich and ripe with terpenes, grows can be tailored to the modern consumer demanding big and fragrant buds with high potency.
Unlike ditch weed, cannabis ruderalis has made a massive impact on current cannabis breeding, because ruderalis begins flowering with age as opposed to changes in light cycles (also known as their photoperiod). Through selected crossbreeding, this has allowed breeders to develop auto-flowering strains that make it much easier for less experienced growers to successfully harvest their own plants.
It is believed that wild cannabis originated in Central Asia, where burned cannabis seeds dating back to approximately 500 BCE were found in the graves of shamans in China and Serbia. Over time, cannabis made its way to Africa, Europe, and the Americas, where hemp played a large role in the lives and economies of early U.S. settlers (the Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia colonists were required to grow hemp).
What is your experience with wild cannabis? Share your stories in the comments below!
Like ditch weed, cannabis ruderalis lacks high levels of curated cannabinoids like THC, though ruderalis often contains about the same amount of CBD as hemp plants, averaging out to about 12-18%.
It’s easy to forget then, that cannabis is an ancient plant and has been used by humans for food, rope, sails, medicine, and ritual for millennia. In more recent history, cannabis was included in the U.S. Pharmacopeia, a book that has detailed the food, medicines and supplements people rely on for their health for more than 200 years. Join PotGuide as we take a look at the wild-grown roots of our favorite plant.
Ruderal plants themselves are defined by being able to “first to colonize disturbed lands” – meaning they are what is the first to spring back after natural or man-made disasters. Subsequently, when crossbred, ruderalis also imparts some of its genetic heartiness, making descendant plants more resistant to negative impact.
Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work – which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor – covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.