At the time, police said people commonly flocked to the area from as far away as Pennsylvania and New York to pick the low-grade reefer. But several years ago, funding dried up for destroying ditch weed, and police now generally respond only when property owners ask to have it removed or find trespassers trying to harvest it.
During World War II, the government designated about 75,000 acres in Indiana to grow hemp, and most of the lingering wild plants can be found in the region north of Lafayette and west of South Bend, according to Tribune archives and the state police official.
“Today we still make arrests in those cases and have instances where those plants are still being picked, and it is a concern,” said a state police marijuana eradication supervisor who asked not to be named because he conducts undercover investigations.
SOUTH BEND — In some places amid the seemingly endless rows of corn that dominate the farmland on the southwestern outskirts of South Bend, you can spot another plant that likes this fertile soil.
Police and local officials have taken measures over the years to get rid of the so-called “ditch weed” when it makes its annual appearance, but in many areas the plants are as rampant as ever, sometimes growing eight to 10 feet tall.
Mr McPartland said there was little evidence that these new farmers cultivated the plant.
However, a group of researchers from the University of Vermont led by John McPartland now believe they may have solved the mystery, by examining what else was growing in the area.
The new theory led the team to re-examine samples of Stone Age fossil pollen from more than 470 sites across Europe, concluding cannabis was present on dry tundra landscapes during the period.
In a study published in the Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, the team concluded that if other ancient pollen collected from a location were from plants common on grassy steppes, the sample is likely to be cannabis.
Scientists have previously struggled to determine where the plant grew, as its similarity to the related common hop meant usual methods of studying pollen fossils had proved difficult.
If other fossils suggest the area was woodland, it can be assumed the plant was a hop, the research states.
“If it wasn’t there they couldn’t domesticate it,” he told the New Scientist.
The growth of wild cannabis was rife in Europe during the Stone Age, but the plant disappeared from the continent before the first farmers had a chance to cultivate it, according to new research.
However, when the first farmers set foot on the continent from the Middle East around 9,000 years ago, the plant was already beginning to disappear as the continent warmed.