Updated: Mar 24
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A September 2022 study entitled "New Insight into Ornamental Applications of Cannabis: Perspectives and Challenges" that was published in the journal Plants explored the topic of the use of cannabis as an ornamental plant in the commercial horticulture industry.
The study reported that many characteristics of marijuana make it ideally suited for ornamental applications, including its "abundant green foliage and aromatic inflorescences." However, a market for ornamental cannabis has not emerged within the horticulture industry "due to legal barriers" and a variety of other challenges, many of which are social or psychological in nature.
The researchers reported that "cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.), belonging to the Cannabaceae family, is one of the world's oldest domesticated crops," noting that it is a multi-purpose plant used for food, raw fiber, bioenergy, recreation, and medicine. "Due to its variable growth habit, abundant green foliage, and distinguishable leaves, cannabis can be an attractive ornamental plant," reported the study's authors.
Panorama Ornamental Cultivar
The study reported that ornamental cannabis has existed in the past, citing "Panorama" in the 1980s, an ornamental cultivar of marijuana bred and commercialized by Iván Bócsa that featured "short, strong branches." "This cannabis strain remains one of the only ornamental cultivars recognized by horticulturalists," noted the study's authors.
The study noted the significant hurdle of stigma, with many in the horticulture industry considering marijuana to pose a "toxicity risk for small children and domestic pets/animals."
The research also reported the availability of "decorative cannabis bonsai and terrarium products" in some regions, including "several retail companies in countries such as Canada."
However, the study explained that such examples of cannabis ornamental plants are relatively rare due to "legal restrictions and difficulties differentiating this crop from illegal genotypes." The study also noted the significant hurdle of stigma, with many in the horticulture industry considering marijuana to pose a "toxicity risk for small children and domestic pets/animals."
Need to Reassess Ornamental Cannabis
The scientific investigation said that such stigma and opposition to the adoption of cannabis as an economically prosperous ornamental crop should be reconsidered. It justified this stance with the fact that "other medicinal plants are much more psychotropic and/or toxic, yet are extensively cultivated worldwide as high-value ornamental crops." Such botanical species include dieffenbachia, oleander, and rhododendron.
"In reality, cannabis is much less toxic than many popular houseplants and the negative stance related to the toxicity of cannabis is largely a result of extensive propaganda aimed at demonizing the species, rather than fact," reported the study.
The study's authors concluded that cannabis is a "vigorous and fast-growing plant, valued for its aromatic inflorescences, green leaves, and beautiful leaflets," but that decades-long legal barriers and the stigma resulting from them "have largely limited its utility as an ornamental plant."
The study presented "multifaceted commercial criteria" and concluded that specially bred cannabis cultivars feature great potential as both potted plants and also in landscaping, with "high feasibility for sustainable exploitation." It noted the herb's relatively strong tolerance for stressful environmental conditions as one reason it is suited for use in commercial and residential landscaping.
"The study's authors concluded that specially bred cannabis cultivars feature great potential as both potted plants and also in landscaping."
"However, the readiness timescale for ornamental cannabis production completely depends on the decriminalization and social attitude toward this plant in each country of interest," noted the study. It mentioned cannabis chemotype V, which produces "virtually zero phytocannabinoids" and, therefore, may overcome certain legal barriers.
The study reported that genetic breeding techniques such as "mutagenesis and genome engineering-based approaches" may facilitate the introduction of cannabis into the ornamental horticulture industry.
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