As we’ve covered in a previous article, the northernmost island prefecture of Hokkaido is awash with wild cannabis plants. A relic from the once widespread hemp industry that was nearly wiped out following World War II, these plants are currently forbidden to touch unless by an authorized removal team.
Although grown as industrial hemp, it is said that the plants in Hokkaido still contain significant amounts of THC.
On 7 July one such team consisting of municipal and prefectural workers gathered to tackle two growths of marijuana behind an abandoned house and on the edge of a wheat field. As they reached the first site, audible sighs could be heard from the group as they stared at the defiant plants, tall as the men themselves, all of which should have been eradicated last year.
Under the blazing summer sun, the men proceed in a dense group to ensure that every square inch was checked – perhaps also to keep sticky fingers at bay. Their sweat-soaked hands pulled out plant after plant by their roots and placed them on a flatbed truck.
By the end of the day – only a single day – they had removed 8,081 stalks of cannabis at a weight of 280 kilograms. However, no one went home with a feeling of satisfaction, because they all knew they accomplished nothing lasting. It would all be back next year.
In fact, their day’s haul of hemp plants was already ten times that of the same day last year. “No matter how much we pull, it keeps growing,” one of them told Yomiuri Shimbun, “it grows and we pull it out, over and over again.”
Online reactions were full of helpful suggestions and no shortage of volunteers.
“I’ll go get it. Where is it?”
“Why don’t they export it to a country where it’s legal?”
“Just burn it all… That would be awesome.”
“Useless. Might as well just leave it alone.”
“Just pave over it all.”
“Why not sprinkle some salt?”
“Just legalize it for a while and watch hordes of people pick it clean.”
“They can’t even defeat a plant that doesn’t move? They just aren’t trying hard enough.”
“I wonder if they’re really growing wild like that. Seems like someone might be helping them.”
Putting recreational and medicinal uses aside for the moment, it is shocking to see that this plant and all its extremely useful industrial purposes is not just sustainable, but so sustainable that they can’t even get rid of it if they try.
However, no such processing awaited the 8,000-plus plants that were weeded on that day in July, they were simply taken to a disposal facility and buried with the other countless cannabis plants from around Hokkaido that were weeded in vain.
Sources: Yomiuri Shimbun, Itai News
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