Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hop-Cannabis Hybrid?

"A plant that makes beer better and gets you high- a pirate's dream!" -French Pirate Lover

And it's true- a plant that can be used for medical/recreational smoking AND beer making is something of  mythical sea monster. Or majestic ocean mermaid more like it, seeing as how the possibilities behind such a hybrid are confusingly vast yet appealing. There could be medical grade beer or new floral tasting notes when using hybrid hop-cannabis for last minute steeping. Imparting not much of the effect but a skunky sweetness on the nose would add new dimension to the hop addiction in the beer world.

Hop-Cannabis Relations

pot-hopsHumulushop, is a small genus of flowering plants in the family of Cannabaceae, which also includes cannabis. 

When you get your first try at hand rubbing and hop smelling there will inevitably be a brewer or beer enthusiasts chuckling softly with quirky delight and imparting a bit of hop knowledge that never ceases to amuse- hops and cannabis are cousins in a very small family. Most will also be quick to mention that they've had friends who've tried to smoke hops with no avail beyond a headache. Although not suitable for smoking, the smell of fresh hops is as close to a spiritual high as one can get without delving deeper into the shamanistic aspects of plants. So much are we effected by this cannabis relative that we "beer revolutionists" have become addicted to the stuff. Demanding higher and higher percentages of hop to malt ratio and turning out noses to anything that doesn't include at least an acre intoxicating hop resins. So why not take two of the most interesting plants in common culture and roll em in the hay together?

[caption id="attachment_979" align="alignleft" width="300"]Hop-Cannabis Hybrid Hop-Cannabis Hybrid[/caption]

Not done through natural pollination but through grafting, cannabis-hop hybrid is more tech lab then donkeys and wild horses. Since they are genetically related it isn't obscene, though the mixing might not develop anything of grander. It might turn out that the hop-cannabis hybrid is useless on both fronts: pretty for gardening and smelling but aesthetically and technologically useless.

Dutch Ganja atricles on growing marjiuana 18.6 Grafting talks about the science, myth and how to of hop-cannabis hybrids:

"The beauty of such a graft is that it would be difficult to identify as marijuana and, possible, the plant would not be covered under marijuana statutes. Unfortunately, the myth is false. It is possible to successfully graft Cannabis with Humulus, but the hops portion will not contain any cannabinoids.

In 1975, the research team of Crombie and Crombie grafted hops scions on Cannabis stocks from both hemp and marijuana (Thailand) plants 205. Cannabis scions were also grafted to hops stocks. In both cases, the Cannabis portion of the graft continued to produce its characteristic amounts of cannabinoids when compared to ungrafted controls, but the hops portions of the grafts contained no cannabinoids. This experiment was well-designed and carried out. Sophisticated methods were used for detecting THC, THCV, CBD, CBC, CBN, and CBG. Yet none of these were detected in the hops portions.

[caption id="attachment_978" align="alignright" width="300"]Hop-Cannabis Hybrid Hop-Cannabis Hybrid[/caption]

The grafting myth grew out of work by H.E. Warmke, which was carried out for the government during the early 1940's in an attempt to develop hemp strains that would not contain the "undesirable" drug 58. The testing procedure for the active ingredients was crude. Small animals, such as the water flea Daphnia, were immersed in water with various concentration of acetone extracts from hemp. The strength of the drug was estimated by the number of animals killed in a given period of time. As stated by Warmke, "The Daphnia assay is not specific for the marijuana drug ... once measures any and all toxic substances in hemp (or hop) leaves that are extracted with acetone, whether or not these have specific marijuana activity." Clearly it was other compounds, not cannabinoids, that were detected in these grafting experiments.


We have heard several claims that leaves from hops grafted on marijuana were psychoactive. Only one such case claimed to be first hand, and we never did see or smoke the material. We doubt these claims. Hops plants do have resin glands similar to those on marijuana, and many of the substances that make up the resin are common to both plants. But of several species and many varieties of hops tested with modern techniques for detecting cannabinoids, no cannabinoids have ever been detected 212.

The commercially valuable component of hops is lupulin, a mildly psychoactive substance used to make beer. To our knowledge, no other known psychoactive substances has been isolated from hops. But since these grafting claims persist, perhaps pot-heads should take a closer look at the hops plant.

Most growers who have tried grafting Cannabis and Humulus are unsuccessful. Compared to many plants, Cannabis does not take grafts easily. Most of the standard grafting techniques you've probably seen for grafting Cannabis simply don't work. For example, at the University of Mississippi, researchers failed to get one successful graft from the sixty that were attempted between Cannabis and Humulus. A method that works about 40 percent of the time is as follows. (Adapted from 205)

MythStart the hops plants one to two weeks before the marijuana plants. Plant the seeds within six inches of each other or start them in separate six-inch pots. The plants are ready to graft when the seedling are strong (about five and four weeks respectively) but their stem has not lost their soft texture. Make a diagonal incision about halfway through each stem at approximate the same levels (hops is a vine). Insert the cut portions into each other. Seal the graft with cellulose tape, wound string, or other standard grafting materials. In about two weeks, the graft will have taken. Then cut away the unwanted Cannabis top and the hops bottom to complete the graft. Good luck, but don't expect to get high from the hops leaves. {Smoking any plant's leaves will give a short, slight buzz.}"

Hop High

Nice to know that lupulin is slightly psychoactive and that we can make the myth or monster with a great deal of effort and experiment as we like. I'm surprised and then also not surprised that more interest on the hop-cannabis hybrid hasn't been around the science scene. Surprised because with the tech valley being over run by hop heads, it would seem only natural to start splicing it with it's useful and historically oppressed cousin.  Not surprised because the cousin is still considered one of those mind opening drugs that the controlling societies would rather we avoid and thus only sanction research on the substance when the reasearch is to show how evil it is.

For Nitch it's not a myth, it's not a monster, but it isn't magic either. With possibilities open on both fronts, I would like to see more done with the two. BeerSci talks about the details of beer and hops and how infusing beer with mary jane isn't uncommon.
THC is alcohol soluble, so you probably want your beer to be in the 8% ABV range for maximum extraction.

Maybe we could be happy to keep the two communities separate at the moment. But time is crawling on, seeing both the cannabis and the hop culture grow in much the same direction. We are cousin cultures that some day will need to join hands and compare notes. 

[caption id="attachment_983" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Fusion of two growing cultural movements Fusion of two growing cultural movements[/caption]


  1. [...] Hops are their own beast- maybe because they are the closest relative to Mary Jane, endowing them with some kind of unstudied psychedelic powers or maybe because they effect the [...]

  2. Mordechai ShamilashviliApril 25, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    I grow cannabis and live in a place where hops are just on every corner, so i noticed how simmilar hops seedlings are to my little cannabis, and decided to learn more about it, this is how i came across your article and it made me want to try to graft them even more, thank you for this excellent article!!!

  3. Thanks for reading and, do please, let me know how your grafting works out!


  4. Hi there! This blog post could not be written much better!
    Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!

    He constantly kept talking about this. I most certainly will forward this post to him.
    Pretty sure he'll have a good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  5. Since cannabis scions can be grafted to hops root stocks, does anyone know if the cannabis then would grow faster and bigger similar to how hops grows? Or is it just a good way to hide your pot among the hops leaves?

  6. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work agricultural drone