“SpaceX is about to send hemp to the ISS” is maybe the most perfectly 2019 sentence, and thankfully, it’s true.
Specifically, an upcoming research project will use a March 2020 SpaceX flight to send plant cultures of hemp and coffee to the International Space Station for studying. This is all thanks to a collaboration between Front Range Biosciences, SpaceCells USA, and BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado.
Front Range will supply the plants, SpaceCells the management and funding, and BioServe the hardware to take care of the plants. BioServe will also monitor the hemp and coffee remotely from Earth to monitor whether radiation and lack of gravity mutate the plants in any way. After 30 days, the plants will come back home for further examination.
You may see comedic value in the idea of sending hemp to space for scientific research, but don’t laugh just yet. The project is sending a hemp tissue culture to the ISS. That’s a far cry from an actual hemp plant used to make CBD. Also, it’s not the same thing as sending marijuana to space (hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants, but they have very different effects). Industrialized hemp has been legal in the United States since 2018, but hemp won’t get you high. Instead, it’s used for everything from food to textiles, and to make CBD.
According to a statement from Dr. Jonathan Vaught, CEO of Front Range (who has a Ph.D in chemistry), this is the first time anyone has tested the effects of space travel on these specific plants. It could provide valuable insight into how the plants respond to new environments, which might be useful in space and on Earth, considering the threat of climate change.
If you want to get stoned in space, you’ll have to find another way. Good luck.
UPDATE: Dec. 16, 2019, 10:23 a.m. PST This story has been updated to remove instances where weed was used as a term to describe hemp and to clarify the differences between the two. Weed is generally known as another term for marijuana, not hemp.