Special to The 420 Times by David Fiedler

If significant radiation hits California from Japan, how will this affect our $10 Billion marijuana crop? Will it be safe to smoke, or even make edibles from? Will the 2011 crop have to be tested with geiger counters? Will growers be forced to certify they were indoor-only? Or will we all be dead anyway and not have to worry about it?

Assuming there isn’t a world-threatening mega-meltdown from the Fukushima nuclear reactors – which could make the simple act of surviving more important than your next dose of medicine – what kind of problems might be caused for the medical marijuana industry here in California by drifting radiation from Japan?

According to sources such as K14U.com, it all depends. And that is to say, it depends on many factors, such as the amount of radioactivity, the altitude that radioactive particles reach in the air, and the direction of the wind. Luckily, it isn’t fallout from a nuclear explosion we’re dealing with, because that would send radioactive particles high into the atmosphere, where they can enter the jet stream, traveling literally around the world at high speed in days.

The more localized phenomenon of a coolant failure, even if it results in a meltdown, is unlikely to release radioactivity in such a way that particles would do more than drift eastward slowly, if at all. That gives them plenty of time to get rained out of the atmosphere before they come near land (although you might want to get your genuine Maui Wowee now, since Hawaii is quite a bit closer to Japan than California and therefore more likely to be affected). So to repeat more clearly: there should be no direct danger to people living anywhere in the United States.

The real danger is to food, water, and cannabis alike, and it comes from microscopic particles of Iodine-131, a radioactive isotope which can accumulate in your thyroid gland, eventually causing thyroid cancer. Only a small fraction of people exposed develop cancer, and only a relatively small fraction of those people die, but it’s certainly nothing you want to fool with.

Luckily, dealing with this level of contamination is relatively easy…you just wash up. One Japanese doctor thinks the best analogy is for you to think of yourself as a hay fever sufferer and the contamination as pollen. Just brush it off your clothes and body, and try to keep it out of your home or car. Now to get to our favorite subject, marijuana; especially outdoor-grown marijuana. Basically, go with the instructions that farmers get from the government and understand that the radioactive half-life of Iodine-131 is about 8 days, so in a little more than two weeks, the effective contamination is just a fraction of what it was at the beginning.

So unless somehow you happen to be growing and ready to harvest outdoor crops in the next two weeks and an amount of radiation escapes that’s huge enough to affect us here in California, you don’t really have to worry. But if you want to be extra careful, you should wash off the leaves and buds of any plant that grew in contaminated conditions, and you’d still probably want to do a water cure for the safest result.

While we’re at it, please spare a moment to think of all the people in Japan who actually are close enough to the Fukushima site to seriously have to deal with this right now…not to mention the many thousands who have already died and even more who live in cities and towns that have been wiped away by the earthquake and tsunami.

David Fiedler has been writing professionally about various technical subjects for 30 years, and distinctly remembers being taught how to hide under his school desk in case of nuclear war.

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5 Responses

  1. Lygeia

    If the Japanese would group hemp (the male plant), it would remediate their now-spoiled land and help to remove the radioactivity.

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