Cannabis is being used to clean up radiation at places like Chernobyl
Cannabis is often refered to as a miracle plant, renowned for its recreational, medicinal and economic benefits. But its surprising ability to remove radioactive waste from soil is new. It turns out, that one of the best helpers for people of going through radioactive chemotherapy also combats the effects of radioactivity in the ground.
If the current news cycle has you in palpitations, don’t worry, humans may be able to survive nuclear war and even the nuclear winter afterwards with the cure-all panacea that is marijuana. It may sound far-fetched, but beyond the benefits of taking a few puffs to soften the blow of hellfire and apocalyptic horsemen raining down on us all, cannabis may also be able to leach up the nuclear fallout.
Dispel the image of Mary Jane in a French maid’s outfit for a moment, because as researchers have found, cannabis will salve the Earth after humanity has had its way with it by sucking harmful chemicals, radioactive particles and even heavy metals out of the soil.
In 2012, Italian farmers started growing cannabis (in its hemp form) in order to clean up contaminated and polluted fields which had been a write-off for farming. In just five years, the levels of pollution had decreased. Now, scientists are taking closer looks at how cannabis might be able to decontaminate soil, completely organically.
Chernobyl, the most famous nuclear hot-mess, was cleaned up nearly a decade later with cannabis plants in the late ‘90s 1998-9. It isn’t anything new, however, as the process of plants being used to clean contaminated soil is called phytoremediation, and it occurs with most plants as they suck up water using their roots, along with contaminants, radioactive particles and heavy metals.
But, cannabis has been shown to work much better. Mainly because of its super fast growth rates and hardiness. It also has an incredible ability to uptake lead — which is something China could look into after reports surfaced of its lead pollution reaching harmful levels.
Slavik Dushenkov, a research scientist with PHYTOTECH stated, “Hemp is proving to be one of the best phyto-remediative plants we have been able to find.”
Even if everything’s chill, and we don’t get blown up, radioactive contamination is a more widespread problem than many people realize. Even though we think of Chernobyl and Fukushima when we think of radiation, it turns out there are more diffuse sources of radiation all over the place, mostly as industrial and commercial by-products. We’re facing a growing mess and we need to find a solution … wouldn’t it be funny if growing cannabis ended up being a big part of the cleanup?
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the radioactivity does still end up bound in the plants. So no smoking the glowing herb growing over by the industrial center, no matter how dank it looks. The plants used in this process actually become radioactive themselves, meaning they must be properly disposed of. In many cases, this means locking them up deep in a mountain. But that’s a lot better than having it in your neighborhood, or God-forbid, in your joint.