An interesting fact that could change the way in which you think about beer, especially if you are a cannabis lover. Did I say fact? I am sorry: a quasi-fact.
Humulus lupulus (hops) and Cannabis sativa (marijuana) have similar organoleptic properties, and you can indeed brew marijuana beer. As Martha Harbison reminds us, “In 2002, a group of plant and molecular biologists in the US and UK looked at the structural characteristics, cellular organelles, latex-producing-properties (or lack thereof) and DNA sequences of a select number of genes for all of the plants originally in Urticales and related taxa. The upshot: by comparing sequences of rbcL, trnL-F, ndhF and matK DNA regions, they confirmed that Humulus and Cannabis were very closely related and belonged in a single family, Cannabinaceae.”
This said, we must also remember that the same researchers “found that the Cannabinaceae family shares a common ancestor with other families”. Basically, we are talking about quite a big family, and if you really want to think about beer and pot as members of the same tribe, you should probably think about them as distant cousins. This little botanical curiosity, however, is really helpful to make us think about how easily we can construct cultural meanings and label following fears and misconceptions while we completely forget nature itself.
In other words, the fear many of us still feel whenever cannabis enters the room is clearly a product of culture and mediated information, and has little—if anything at all—to do with the actual chemical nature of the plant.
The next time you drink a home-brewed beer ask yourself: is this cannabis? Maybe you’ll find out it is, and maybe you’ll love it too… just like you love your “normal” beer.