Cannabis in the Cornfields: Then and Now

Cannabis is grown in cornfields all over the United States. This plant was found in an Indiana cornfield.
In August 2006, clad in safety gear that protected her from the scraping stalks, Wisconsin ecologist Kaitlin Whitney was collecting ecological data in one of the Dairy State's numerous cornfields when she came upon five marijuana plants "bursting with buds ready to harvest." Her presence even spooked the bud tender, who just so happened to be tramping through the corn to check on the plants. The anonymous grower split, leaving Whitney with both an interesting story to tell and more excitement than she probably expected that day (she was, after all, walking through cornfield after cornfield for her job).

That story became the lede in an article Whitney wrote for The Atlantic this past fall on cannabis growth in Wisconsin cornfields. "Almost every corn grower I spoke to that summer had a tale of discovering marijuana in their cornfields at harvest time," she wrote. "Which led me to ask: What is it about the nation’s largest crop that has made it so attractive to marijuana growers in recent years?"

Whitney attributes the "recent" phenomenon to modern technology, such as auto-harvesting combines and GPS field mapping, that keeps farmers out of their fields. She argues that marijuana growers have quietly moved into this blind spot in modern agriculture, siphoning the water, soil, and chemicals meant for the primary crop. The technology that turns today's cornfields into more isolated environments may indeed be one reason why growers prefer them. But Americans had been growing weed in cornfields - whether their own or someone else's - long before the advent of helicopter pesticide application and tractors with WiFi. See, for example, the following clippings:
From The Oakland Tribune, July 28, 1948.

From The Denver Post, August 15, 1934.
From the Woodland Daily Democrat (CA), September 7, 1934.

From The Denver Post, July 18, 1948.

AP story from November 22, 1967.

From the Rocky Mountain News, June 13, 1946.

From the Corona Daily Independent (CA), July 15, 1947.
There are more, but hopefully my point is made: growing pot in cornfields is not a recent deal. But even after a slight redaction to make it less historically ignorant, Whitney's original question is still valid and important:

"What is it about the nation’s largest crop that has made it so attractive to marijuana growers in recent years?"

It's relatively simple, actually. Corn (Zea mays) grows tall and green; so did the first few strains of pot (Cannabis indica) grown by Americans from about 1910 - 1975. Both plants are also camp-followers: plants that thrive in open, human-disturbed environments. The neatly organized, irrigated landscapes of cornfields give pot plants everything they need. Plus, as Whitney notes, cornfields are dense, uncomfortable, and disorienting places where very few people go stomping around. Of course, growing cannabis in corn was even less risky if the pot grower happened to own or lease the farm, as was the case in several of the examples above.

The millions of acres of corn added to the American landscape after mid-century to support livestock and produce ethanol have only given the nation's outlaw horticulturalists millions more acres to grow pot. Whitney hit on this as well, and even mentioned Ralph Weisheit's study of cannabis growth in rural, Midwestern America, Domestic Marijuana: A Neglected Industry (1992).

Finally, economic downturns such as the Great Depression of the 1930s, the recession of the 1980s, the so-called "Great Recession" of the late 2000s, and others provided Americans with plenty of incentive to grow pot in their own or someone else's cornfield; as Dave Carter of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union said in 1986, "I would imagine these days there's probably a couple farmers with some pot growing between the corn rows - any way to make some money these days." As the landscape historian J.B. Jackson would put it, the "official" landscape and the unapproved, improvised, "vernacular" landscape overlap in the world of cornfield pot growing.

The logical follow-up question to Whitney's first is "should anyone be concerned about this?" She starts to answer this question, but only extends it to farmers who've found pot growers pilfering their soil, irrigation water, and chemicals. Understandably, they're upset - and more than a little jelly, as small-time weed farmers are making a killing with a few plants while they're often struggling to profit from thousands. And although Whitney nearly ran into one by accident, apparently finding and arresting cornfield pot growers is really hard;  members of law enforcement she interviews say confirmed reports of marijuana grows rarely result in arrest.

This illustration from the Rocky Mountain News in 1986
 shows cannabis growing between two corn plants.
My biggest concern is not for the farmers - who honestly aren't giving up that much in the way of resources by unknowingly sharing their cornfields with a handful of cannabis plants - but for the unknowing black-market consumers of marijuana that has been doused with industrial-grade fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.

Do these cornfield cannabis growers wash their crop after harvest? Would that even do any good? I imagine the ones who care would, but participants in a black-market economy don't normally give a shit about any of that. They just want the money.

In the end, the story of cannabis in cornfields yields yet another compelling reason why we need regulated, responsible cannabis production in the United States.


  1. Buy Medical Marijuana, Cannabis Oil, Legal Weed Online with best Medical Marijuana Store online!

  2. The dedicated news is that fifteen states and DC have captive to let medical cannabis for patients World Health Organization area unit in would like. However, they even have place into place strict regulative programs to manage patients. if you want to know more then please visit our Cannabis Stores in Eugene website.

  3. Medical marijuana program needs more money to help cover costs associated with being one of the most restrictive laws in the country for Licence to grow Marijuana.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Hello, we are cannabis community. You already know cannabis is not just a plant, it consists lots of health benefits. If someone is looking to grow cannabis plant indoor, we can help you. Please visit our website here- Atlas Plant Trainer or Watch our videos

  6. This 3 bean chili uses ground turkey breast and couldn't be any easier to make. The only thing I added was a little bit of fresh garlic when I was browning the turkey. CBD Oil for Autism

  7. A luxurious blog, truth be told. Appreciated every tiny bit of this amazing thing.
    CBD for Autism

  8. >but for the unknowing black-market consumers of marijuana that has been doused with industrial-grade fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.

    Wow, I never even considered this. But is it actually a big deal? I mean we're spraying this stuff on corn, which we eat, so is smoking it much worse? Just a thought.

  9. I've noticed that the heavy marijuana people who smoke who I work with personally appear to share a commonality of utilizing the drug to handle their anger. This commentary has evidenced based mostly penalties and is the idea of a lot scientific analysis. Analysis has in reality discovered that the connection between marijuana and managing anger is clinically vital (Eftekhari, Turner, & Larimer, 2004). Anger is a protection mechanism used to protect in opposition to emotional penalties of adversity fueled by concern (Cramer, 1998). As said, concern is a major perform managed by the amygdala which is closely stimulated by marijuana use (Adolphs, Trane, Damasio, & Damaslio, 1995; Van Tuyl, 2007).tips for branding cannabis business/

  10. Whether or not these particular risks may be balanced or outweighed by broader societal benefits of changing policies, they are often minimized or denied by legalization advocates who often focus on the fact that users do not actually die from a weed overdose.

  11. This is really a nice and informative, containing all information and also has a great impact on the new technology. Check it out here: Vape Shop

  12. Love what you're doing here guys, keep it up you also go here : THC VAPE JUICE

    Vape Shop

    Vape Pen

  13. Remember to create backlinks with websites or blogs which have high rankings. This is because of the fact that high ranking websites or blogs will have more visitors than those which fall back on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). CBD Oil Florida

  14. hello!! Very interesting discussion glad that I came across such informative post. Keep up the good work friend. Glad to be part of your net community. weed

  15. Your website is really cool and this is a great inspiring article. marijuana buy online

  16. Your website is really cool and this is a great inspiring article. Thank you so much. cannabis grow expert

  17. Thanks for sharing this post. I was amazed to see the difference between the growing Cannabis in the Cornfields then and now. The importance of Cannabis is limitless especially in hearth health.
    Every year, heart disease in all its forms is responsible for an estimated one in four deaths in the United States. One theory as to why it accounts for so many deaths is because many people ignore or don’t notice the early warning signs of the disease. Nearly half of all deaths caused by heart disease happen outside of the medical system. This is where cannabidiol (CBD) is coming into play as a new viable alternative therapy.

  18. Thanks for sharing this useful post. Very informative and well described.
    Contact us for-
    Herbal vaporizer
    Vaping weed

    Vaporizer for weed

  19. I have a hard time describing my thoughts on content, but I really felt I should here. Your article is really great. I like the way you wrote this information. how does cannabidiol work

  20. I admire this article for the well-researched content and excellent wording. I got so involved in this material that I couldn’t stop reading. I am impressed with your work and skill. Thank you so much. Cannabis Clinic Brooklyn NY


Post a Comment