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Wild Hemp- What it is and Where it Comes From

wild hemp

Wild hemp is also known as feral cannabis, wild marijuana, or “ditch weed.” These wild hemp plants have been defined by The Drug Enforcement Agency as, “wild, scattered marijuana plants [with] no evidence of planting, fertilizing, or tending.”

The wild hemp plant supposedly arose from industrial hemp plants. During World War II, midwestern industrial hemp crops were grown. The plants have naturally re-seeded themselves in the wild to create a feral type of cannabis.

Unlike cultivated marijuana, wild hemp usually has negligible amounts of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Table of Contents

What Is Wild Hemp?

One of the oldest cultivated plant species is Cannabis sativa [1]. It should be no surprise that wild hemp has historically grown freely in nature and found many traditional uses. G. Piluzza and associates have suggested hemp oil may have health benefits for conditions such as diabetes, cancer, lupus, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and hypertension.

Cannabis Species vs Chemotype

Classifying cannabis plants has always been a struggle. Scientists debate how many species there really are in the Cannabis plant family. Most accept that there are three Cannabis species. The three species can have very different chemical profiles (chemotypes). The species of Cannabis are Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis.

Cannabis species describe the appearance of the plant and have some links to geographic origin. The chemical profile, or chemotype, is generally a more useful way to consider cannabinoid profiles.

Chemotype I cannabis plants are the drug-type (marijuana) with THC as the dominant cannabinoid [1].

Cannabis plants of chemotype II are an intermediate type of plant with balanced THC and cannabidiol (CBD) levels [1].

Chemotype III cannabis plants have CBD as the dominant cannabinoid and include fiber hemp [1].

Hemp plants are traditionally high CBD and low THC (chemotype III) varieties classified under the C. sativa species. However, it is useful to note that modern hemp strains have been interbred.

Wild Hemp Strains

Hemp genetics can be cultivated from wild plants that are domesticated and selectively bred, or feral cannabis strains can arise by escaping the boundaries of the farm [2].

For more than 6000 years, cannabis has been traded and cultivated worldwide. It is likely that traditional C. sativa originated in China. Short and bushy C. indica hails from Indian roots. Meanwhile in Russia, the wild C. ruderalis displays a unique trait. Other cannabis plants depend on day length to cue flowering. Ruderalis holds a special trait called “auto-flowering” where plants flower based on how long they have been growing for.

Cultivated cannabis plants grow up to two meters tall. They have a main stem called a shoot. Feral cannabis often lacks the dominant central stem and keeps a smaller stature of only about 30 centimeters in height. In this way, feral cannabis looks much more like C. ruderalis despite its actual genetic lineage.

Smoking Wild Hemp- A Warning

Cannabis plants are very helpful in cleaning up the environment. Also, this means that hemp plants can take up dangerous substances. Feral cannabis plants growing in drainage ditches and roadsides are likely to contain significant levels of dangerous chemicals like lead. Smoking wild hemp and feral cannabis is a very dangerous idea because of this.

Properly cultivated CBD hemp flower and cannabis must pass testing for heavy metals, pesticides, and microbial contaminants. This ensures that products like hemp pre-rolls do not put consumers in danger of taking in those toxic and harmful substances.

Final Thoughts on Wild Hemp

Wild marijuana and wild hemp are not uncommon. These feral cannabis plants can be found in drainage ditches and roadsides, especially through the midwestern US. Wild CBD hemp flower will not be like the hemp cigarettes you can buy online.

Feral cannabis plants can take up heavy metals and environmental contaminants. Consequently, it is a very bad idea to smoke wild hemp. The flavor of a wild hemp cigarette will definitely not be as pleasing, and it could make you sick. It is much better to shop for CBD hemp flower products online and from reputable growers!


  1. Piluzza, G., Delogu, G., Cabras, A. et al. Differentiation between fiber and drug types of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) from a collection of wild and domesticated accessions. Genet Resour Crop Evol 60, 2331–2342 (2013).
  2. Small, E. Evolution and Classification of Cannabis sativa (Marijuana, Hemp) in Relation to Human Utilization. Bot. Rev. 81, 189–294 (2015).
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