The growing push to decriminalize pot by U.S. state governments is putting many farm scientists in a bind. That’s because federal law bars researchers who work at federally funded institutions from giving pot growers the same kind of assistance they routinely offer to other kinds of farmers.
The result, says plant physiologist Angus Murphy of the University of Maryland (UMD), College Park, is that farmers may not be getting the advice they need to grow the controversial crop safely and effectively.
The federal government lists cannabis as a Schedule I drug, considered the most dangerous, and yet the plant is now legal in some form in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Maryland, for example, allows clinics to dispense medical marijuana. Twelve more states may vote on pot issues in the next year.