Could cannabis be the right crop to mop up Gauteng’s mine toxins?

You may be aware (😉) that cannabis has many wonderful uses. Now SA scientists are exploring another potential application: sucking up pollutants from the many wastelands created around Gauteng by mining and other heavy industries, the Mail & Guardian reports. 

Activists have long warned about elevated levels of toxic and radioactive metals in parts of Joburg, given the city’s mining history. Cannabis, meanwhile, has previously been proven to outperform other crops in its ability to suck up toxic metals. Why? Three reasons: a rapid growth rate,  high stress tolerance and a long root system that can get deep into toxic soils. It’s been put to test in the toughest of circumstances – after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Another environmental “plus” in cannabis’ column is that it can also capture 22 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare, way better than any other crop. 

But the plant’s reputation as a drug has slowed down research. We reckon it’s high time (sorry) to change that, so we’re glad to see these sorts of studies being conducted.

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 11 November 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.