Cannabis seeds bird food
A UK gardening magazine warned readers that commonly available bird seeds can sprout hemp. But to grow hemp in Britain, you need a special government license first.
Be careful that your store-bought bird seeds don’t end up producing hemp plants, cautioned a column in a UK gardening magazine.
In the September 2019 edition of BBC Gardners’ World Magazine, a reader submitted a photo of an unidentified plant growing in their garden. In response to the reader’s request asking what their mystery plant was, horticulturist Anne Swithinbank, writing for the magazine, recognized that the plant was cannabis, most likely of the non-intoxicating hemp variety. She advised the reader to immediately destroy the plants, in accordance with UK law.
“It is, of course, illegal to grow and probably germinated from bird seed,” Swithinbank wrote. “Although it has obviously thrived in the warm summer, you had better destroy it. It is safe to put on the compost heap, but I would advise against a bonfire.”
In the UK, cannabis is mostly illegal except for treating certain debilitating medical conditions. Farmers there can grow hemp, but they first need to obtain a special license issued by the UK government. However, possessing or selling hemp seeds is totally legal; it’s growing the seeds that’s a crime.
Just how the heck are weed seeds ending up in commercial bird seed? Easy: Many bird seed producers will add nonviable, heat-treated hemp seeds into the mix. But sometimes the heat treatment doesn’t get all of the seeds, and a viable one will slip past now and again.
“Denatured hemp seed is offered for bird food, and viable hemp seed an occasional contaminant and may well have spread via this route,” said Guy Barter, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chief Horticulturalist, to the Telegraph. “Plants should be destroyed to avoid potential prosecution.”
Gallery — Photos of Animals Admiring the Majesty of Marijuana:
In the US, hemp was outlawed alongside marijuana for decades until the federal government removed the former from drug scheduling late last year. Individual states may now craft their own laws and regulations governing hemp possession, production, and sales.
Although hemp cannot get anyone intoxicated the way marijuana can, some US states have treated hemp with just as many, if not more, restrictions than marijuana. For instance, in Colorado, the first US state to legalize recreational cannabis, regulators require annual licensing for growing hemp, similar to the UK. Yet also in Colorado, there is no licensing required for adults to grow their own marijuana at home, though they’re limited to only growing six plants at a time.
Growing weed in one’s home garden may be a crime in most places, but as cannabis rapidly mainstreams, we may soon see ganja gardening as an everyday occurrence. Cannabis provides a ton of benefits to other companion plants such as lavender, chamomile, and peppermint by attracting or repelling certain pests, or by maintaining soil health. Or, if you spray a bit of sugar water on your cannabis, you could “train” bees to gather pollen from your heady flowers to make naturally weed-infused honey.
Bird Food Is a Casualty of the War on Drugs
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By Christopher S. Wren
- Oct. 3, 1999
What do 40,000 pounds of birdseed have in common with America’s war on drugs?
Nothing, says Jean Laprise, an Ontario farmer who shipped the birdseed to his American customers only to have it seized when it crossed the United States-Canadian border.
Everything, say the United States Government and its critics, but for altogether different reasons.
The birdseed, nearly 20 tons of it, has been locked in a Detroit warehouse since Aug. 9, when it was impounded by the United States Customs Service. The reason: The seed consists of sterilized seeds processed from industrial hemp.
Mr. Laprise has found himself mired in one of the more bizarre episodes of Washington’s campaign to curb illicit drug use. Hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same plant species, Cannabis sativa, though the Government rarely distinguishes between them.
”They say it’s a tractor-trailer full of drugs,” Mr. Laprise said. ”We say it’s a tractor-trailer full of birdseed.”
But while smoking marijuana delivers a psychoactive high, smoking hemp gives only a headache. Tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, usually varies between 4 percent and 20 percent of a leaf. Industrial hemp has a THC content below 1 percent. The birdseed seized in Detroit had a THC content of barely .0014 percent, which wouldn’t give a bird a buzz.
John W. Roulac, the president of Nutiva, a company in Sebastopol, Calif., that buys hemp seeds from Mr. Laprise’s operation for food products, said that seeds themselves have no THC, and that whatever gets detected comes from contact with leaves of the hemp plant.
Mr. Roulac said the amount of THC was ”like an olive pit in a railroad boxcar.”
Mr. Laprise, whose company, Kenex Ltd., grows and processes hemp with the approval of the Canadian Government, said that ”all of our other products have no detectable level of THC. The only shipment with any detectable amount was the birdseed, and it was really nothing.”
Though the United States Government views hemp with suspicion, it was historically an agricultural staple used in everything from ropes and sails to clothing and the first American flag supposedly sewn by Betsy Ross. It has been virtually illegal since 1937.
Last year, Canada declared hemp a legitimate crop and has granted growers’ licenses for 35,000 acres. Britain, France and Germany also have commercial hemp industries. The states of Hawaii, North Dakota and Minnesota passed laws approving hemp this year as a crop for hard-pressed farmers.
Kenex’s customers, who snap up Mr. Laprise’s hemp seeds and fibers for uses as varied as food for animals and people, beauty products and horse bedding, have been outraged by the seizure in Detroit.
”What in the heck are they doing arresting birdseed?” said Anita Roddick, the British founder of the Body Shop, whose organic hair- and skin-care products have used hemp oil produced by Mr. Laprise.
”It’s so Monty Pythonesque,” Ms. Roddick said, referring to the antic comedians who mocked life’s absurdities. ”They’re chasing around bloody birdseed. It’s making the D.E.A. look stupid.”
Federal law-enforcement officials defended the seizure. Terry Parham, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said, ”Our understanding is there is no legal way for hemp seed to have come in that contains any quantity of THC.” Mr. Parham explained that no product containing THC could be imported except by a company registered with the drug agency, and that no companies were registered.
Drug-policy critics like Ethan Nadelmann, the president of the Lindesmith Center, a New York group that advocates a more liberal drug policy, reacted to the birdseed seizure with glee, contending that it shows how dumb the war on drugs can get.
Mr. Laprise said the Customs Service also ordered him to recall his earlier exports to the United States of hemp oil, horse bedding, animal feed and granola bars, or face more than $500,000 in fines. He cannot comply, he said, because the products have been used or consumed.
Meanwhile, a report by the United States Department of Agriculture assessing the potential of hemp growing has made the rounds of the Federal Government. The report’s beige cover is stamped ”Classified.”
”I can’t figure out why they classified this,” said a Government official who let a reporter take a peek. The study said there was a limited niche market for hemp products, like Mr. Laprise’s birdseed.
How cannabis seeds in bird feed may threaten growers’ crops
Have you ever considered what seeds you are feeding the birds in your beautiful bird feeder that hangs at the end of your garden? Some of those seeds could be compromising the four plants that you can grow legally for yourself, and here we’re going to help you out by explaining why.
What seeds are you feeding the birds?
Next time you buy your birdseed, check on the types of ingredients that make up that premium bag of feed. A favourite seed of many birds is the hemp seed. Although not a seed, it is a nut. It’s high in fat content, which is why this seed is extremely attractive to the bird’s taste palate. Birdseed producers add to the seed mix. Non-viable heat-treated hemp seed is inserted into the birdseed mix. The issue is that not all of the seeds get the full treatment to deactivate them.
So although your intentions were good in filling that bird seeder for the different birds in your neighbourhood, your carefully planted cannabis plants have perhaps been compromised by the cannabis seeds in the bird food. The cannabis seeds are not the only seeds that will sprout from the birds discarded the seeds while eating. Some of the seeds that grow from the wild bird seed can produce a hemp plant.
Male plants will adversely affect the four female plants you have carefully grown. The male plant pollinates the female plant and thus results in the abundance of seeds, which turns your plant into a hermaphrodite. Your wild bird food is perhaps not a good thing for the cannabis farmer.
All growers look for the best and high THC content from their plants, so planting the female is of utter importance. The plants that have grown from the bird food sprouting will not be an enjoyable smoking experience. THC levels will be too low.
How to prevent your bird seed from sprouting
There is not much you can do about your neighbor’s bird feeders. However, there are means to help stop the bird feeders that you have around your yard from contributing to stray males in the neighbourhood. To prevent sprouting of the birdseed, you need to sterilize the birdseed. You can microwave or bake the seeds to help achieve this.
Sterilizing wild bird seed
- Cookie sheet
- Airtight glass storage jar
Place the evenly spread birdseed on the cookie sheet.
Put the seed in an oven that’s been preheated to 140 F for 9 minutes.
Remove the seed from the oven, and then let them cool before you store in a dry airtight glass jar.
The microwave method
- Paper bag
- Airtight glass jar
Place the birdseed in a paper bag and in a microwave on high for 6 minutes.
Remove from bag allow the seed to cool and then store it in an airtight glass jar.
Sprouting is not the only means that male cannabis plants can be in your neighbourhood. Bird planters throughout the neighbourhood feed the birds, and the birds will do as they wish as they dispel the seeds. These plants germinate, and soon you could be contributing to the abundance of male plants that are now doing the same thing, by sprouting and affecting your female plants.
So, although everything in nature deserves to grow just like the weed plant, perhaps providing food for the birds needs to be done with sterilized bird food.
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