Brooklyn, NY. As predicted, the Urban Forager post about finding Cannabis sativa (“Wayward Weed” 12 June 2010) in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn sparked lots of the usual “make it legal”/”it’s a gateway drug” debate. My own interest in it is purely botanical and the fact that so many cultures have utilized hemp for a variety of things throughout the ages–rope, clothing, medicine, etc. (I think it’s even been used for pulp/paper, but I’d have to double-check that). Several folks wrote in asking about the location of the plant, but to spare anyone legal hassles, I’m remaining mum. Plus, last time I checked, someone had already dug it up.
Curiously, Gothamist published a posting about finding a similar-looking plant in Union Square. They too contacted the Brooklyn Botanical Garden Plant Resource Center to try to determine if it really was weed. Poor BBG–all of us writers finding illegal plants sprouting up across the city.
In my own research, I was surprised to discover just how hardy the plant is–native to Central Asia, it’s pretty much spread around the world. In this country, the botanical is banned in several states (in addition to being illegal to harvest) and is so invasive in Minnesota, it’s prohibited as a noxious weed.
Still, it’s the small things that make me happy: one of my readers at the NY Times caught the ’80s musical reference.