Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)


Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) also called Hemp or Indian Hemp is an herb/forb in the Hemp Family (Cannabinaceae) and order Rosales. It is uncommon around French Hill Pond but has been found in this area. The photograph on this page was taken to the east of the pond. This plant is illegal to cultivate in the United States.  The order name comes from the Latin for "rosebush." The genus and family name is from ancient Greek. The species name, sativa, is Latin for "sown," which is appropriate because this plant is not native. However, hemp has become naturalized in southern and north-central Maine. These plants are seldom found on Mount Desert Island unless deliberately sown because naturalized examples are normally quickly destroyed. The plants shown in the photograph were destroyed by a herbicide shortly after being photographed. This forb can grow to ten feet (300 centimeters) or more tall but is usually shorter in Maine. The tiny (3 mm), green flowers are in the leaf axis. Male and female flowers are on separate plants . This plant flowers from June to October. 

The pinnately divided leaves consist of five to seven leaflets from two to six inches ( five to 15 centimeters) long, somewhat lance-shaped, deeply cut into over 20 lobes and tapered at each end giving them a fern-like appearance. They are hairy, dark green above and paler green underneath.

The fruit is a dry, light-tan seed.

The root system is simple.

This plant has been used for millennia to make rope. It has also been used for food, particularly for birds, and as a drug. Although it is legal under Maine law to grow and sell this drug for medicinal purposes, it is still illegal under federal law to cultivate and sell.

The most important psychoactive chemical in this plant is 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is not often used in its pure form for recreational purposes because its effects are usually not as potent as a user anticipates. However, other psychoactive chemicals in this plant combine with THC to provide pleasing euphoric effects when the plant is smoked or consumed. The female flowers contain the greatest amount of psychoactive agents. "Hashish" is the name given to the psychoactive resin secreted by the flowers of the female plant. Although pure THC is considered a relatively safe drug, other chemicals in Marijuana are more dangerous. These other chemicals and contaminants in the plant material can make the results of consuming this plant material unpredictable and even dangerous in some cases. Human ingestion of this plant or its smoke is NOT recommended. Wild Marijuana does not normally have the drug potency of cultivated Marijuana. As the THC ages, it oxidizes reducing its potency. Other psychoactive chemicals in this plant may evaporate or oxidize as well. Therefore, hemp products, like rope or textiles, will not normally contain significant quantities of psychoactive chemicals. Smoking or consuming hemp products or old Marijuana may produce a "high" due to the placebo effect.



Field Plants Technical Data and Information French Hill Pond Home