UPDATE: PLANTASIA IS CANCELLED Medical cannabis & more to be discussed at Plantasia

Cannabis indica
Cannabis indica can be used medically in New York State. Find out some of its uses in a talk at Plantasia by Melissa Moore, adjunct professor in horticulture at Niagara County Community College. Photo courtesy Silu, Wikimedia Commons

UPDATE: Plantasia is cancelled

From the Plantasia Committee on March 12, 2020: After much deliberation and communication with the proper authorities, due to the ever-growing health concerns from COVID-19, it is with a very heavy heart that we have been left with no choice than to cancel this year’s Plantasia show. We are taking this proactive step for the health and safety of PLANTWNY members, event staff and all of our guests that look forward to our show every year.

by Connie Oswald Stofko

“Medical Uses of Cannabis” is one of almost three dozen seminars that will be presented at Plantasia, Western New York’s premiere garden and landscape show, from Thursday to Sunday, March 19 to 22 at the Fairgrounds in Hamburg. See all the Plantasia seminars here.

Melissa Moore, adjunct professor in the Horticulture Department at Niagara County Community College (NCCC), will explain a few of the medical uses of cannabis in her presentation, including stress, pain and opiate reduction. There will also be time for questions.

Moore holds a bachelor’s degree in organismal biology and a master’s degree in sustainable engineering.

Originally from Buffalo, Moore lived in California for 15 years, working first in agriculture. Then she worked in laboratory analytics of cannabis at a company that tested cannabis from growers before it could be offered to dispensaries for purchase. They tested for heavy metals, yeast and molds, pesticides and potency.

This semester at NCCC she is teaching “The Biology of Cannabis” and “Cannabis Pest Management.”

In the fall she will teach “The Business of Cannabis” and “Cannabis Production.” If you’d like to take a class without earning a degree or credits, you can audit a course. Senior Scholars (age 60 or over) may audit a course tuition free. See more on auditing classes here.

Intro to cannabis plants

The first thing gardeners should know is the difference between hemp and cannabis, Moore said.

Hemp is Cannabis sativa. The plant is grown for its seeds and fiber. The seeds can be eaten or made into other food products such as hemp seed oil and hemp seed “milk.”

A different plant, Cannabis indica, is the one used medicinally.

“There are a lot of different strains,” Moore said. “Each has different compounds.” One strain can help you sleep while another offers pain relief.

Cannabinoids and terpenes are the active ingredients that we get from cannabis. The plant’s cannabinoid profile and terpene profile– how much of those substances are produced by the plant– determine the effects of the medicine.

hemp courtesy Joseph M. DiTomaso, University of California - Davis, Bugwood.org
Don’t confuse hemp, seen here, with medical cannabis. Hemp is Cannabis sativa. It’s grown for fiber or for food. The seeds can be eaten or made into hemp seed oil or hemp seed “milk.” Photo courtesy Joseph M. DiTomaso, University of California-Davis, Bugwood.org

Can you grow cannabis at home?


Hemp can be grown in New York State, but only if you have a license, Moore said. Licenses are available to grow hemp for fiber, textiles and seed, as well as research.

Growing hemp isn’t something you would do in your backyard at this point. It’s large-scale growing under New York State’s Industrial Hemp Program— the license costs $500.

Farming hemp is becoming big, Moore said, adding that Cornell University has started a hemp seed library, the first in the United States.

Medical cannabis

Currently, individuals can’t grow medical cannabis, but if legislation passes, Moore said, people with a medical marijuana card would be able to grow a limited number of Cannabis indica plants. We should know by April 1 if it is passed. If so, it would be implemented Jan. 1, 2021.

See information about New York State’s current medical marijuana program here.

Recreational use of cannabis is currently illegal in New York State.

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