Canada Goes Legal (Wait ’til you taste the honey!)

Yesterday, October 17, 2018, Canada legalized possession and consumption of weed, pot, grass, cannabis, marijuana, or as my father called it, Mary-Ja-Wanna.  Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion proposed by the justice minister a year ago. It took a year to get ready. Now it’s the law.  This makes Canada the second country in the world (Uruguay was first) to make the stuff as legal as whisky. Some health workers are concerned legalization sends the wrong message to youngsters. It does. But it doesn’t saddle an errant 18-year-old (or 78-year-old) with a criminal record. The police favoured the new law as it reduces time spent ticketing small possessions. Police and legislatures hope that decriminalization will cut into gangster revenue. Organized (and disorganized) crime had been collecting six billion dollars a year in Canada from their cannabis trade. Libertarians in Canada were also pushing for the change, believing that less government is better government.

I’ve never used weed and probably won’t ever use it, though people have been urging it on me for decades. However, I became curious about marijuana honey. Does the plant secrete nectar which honey bees could collect? And should I be worried that my backyard hives might access my neighbour’s deck next summer and her home gardening might include a few blooming buds, and my bees might collect MJ nectar, which my bees might turn into cannabis honey and I might mail a jar to my sister in the USA, and a Homeland Security hound might sniff out the cannabis in the honey, and I might be arrested for international drug smuggling?

I can relax. My neighbour only grows tomatoes on her deck.  But even more important, marijuana is wind pollinated. The plant doesn’t secrete nectar to attract pollinators because this weed has been married to the wind forever. No nectar, no honey. Does cannabis have extrafloral nectaries or other body parts that ooze sugary THC? None have been convincingly documented.

Bees can’t make honey from weed. Weeds, perhaps. Weed, no. However, there has been a weed and honey operation of a sort going for a while in France. The operator’s claim is that he has ‘trained’ his bees to collect ‘resin’ from cannabis which the bees ‘add’ to the honey they make. I don’t want to sound skeptical, but I doubt it.  You can read about Nicolas Trainerbees and his trained bees here and here. Training bees to collect marijuana resin would be akin to training bees to collect propolis. I don’t think it’s possible. However, here’s a video of his ‘trained’ bees. What do you think?

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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12 Responses to Canada Goes Legal (Wait ’til you taste the honey!)

  1. Alan Jones says:

    Hi Ron,
    I once helped a Lady who had hurt her back with her bees and remarked how calm the colonies were,she looked a bit sheepish and admitted that her son grew cannabis and she used the leaves in her smoker!!


    • Ron Miksha says:

      Nice story, thanks! I’m sure that the beekeeper whom you helped was convinced that the smoke has a psychoactive effect on bees. This, in turn, may make her more comfortable around the bees. (Or maybe she’s getting some second-hand smoke herself.) Now you have to decide whether to burst her bubble and tell her that marijuana does nothing to insects – they don’t have the right sort of receptors.


    • mijoka says:

      I harvested my Honey wearing only short and bare foot , calm colony have nothing to do with smoking a joint actually the more smoke you use the more problem you create in a long term for the hives , so forgive me if I am skeptical , aside of that the oil is in the but not the leaves , there might be traces of it , not enough to have any psychotic effect . But then in the old country when you spilled salt , if you threw 7 times a very small pinch of it over your left shoulder it will bring good luck , or breaking a mirror will be a bad luck omen .


  2. Robert Hughes says:

    Regarding the ‘trained’ bees, they certainly look interested in the weed plants, but then if I were ‘training’ bees I’d probably dribble some anise-containing syrup over the target…which is probably what this guy has done (or something similar). So it doesn’t really prove anything about collecting material from the cannabis plants. The greenish mushy-looking rather unappealing ‘honey’ he shows on his video is also suspicious. Not for me, but he’ll probably get some customers.
    I am sure we’ll see jars of honey soon with a few cannabis leaves thrown in.

    Rob in NB


    • Ron Miksha says:

      Thanks. Your explanation is certainly possible. Every article I’ve seen is very cautious about attributing real success to the training, using words like “he claims” and so on.


  3. garryneufeld says:

    I heard an interview with this fellow in which he said he wasn’t sure that any psychoactive elements were actually transferred to the honey, but that he had given his honey to someone and they said they felt a lot better. ha, Interesting article on Vicky Rowe’s site about a fellow in Wyoming infusing canabanoids into honey and then using the honey to make mead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Thanks, I hadn’t heard the interview but if bees are just gathering some resins, then this makes sense. Infused cannabis-honey products will probably become common but I had never heard of the step – mead made from marijuanated honey!


  4. Luca says:

    Hi Ron! I wrote an article a week ago about “cannahoney”, some people (here in Italy too) advertise their honey in many “subtle” ways, making the customer believe that the nectar comes from cannabis. If you check carefully the product card you can read: “CannaHoney™ makes no claims regarding any cannabinoid content in this product.” So basically is a wildflower honey sold at 35 $ for 6 oz of product. It also says that their honey is gluten-free and fat-free (LOL). I call this a refined scam.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. mijoka says:

    Good Morning ,
    Mr Miksha I have never done this on anyone blog , feel free to remove the post from your site .
    This is very serious ,
    We have in France an association “non profit” named Pollinis which has been fighting the Big drug Co , for years , finally they have succeeded in convincing the French Gov to test all pesticides as bee friendly which in turn will also help scores of other butterflies and insect , going up the food chain , Birds .
    Anyone can sign the petition it is non biding , they do not sell email addresses , I do know you have quite a few European which are reading your post from Europe , they are the one which will put the most weight in the balance , yet a global push will be helpful as every other Country will have to follow on the long term basis .
    The organization name is
    Together we can make a difference .
    As I have said Mr Miksha feel free to remove this post , I have no way to contact you direct .


    • Ron Miksha says:

      I don’t mind that you are announcing this petition information, but adding it as a reply to this post (Canada Goes Legal) is not the best place for you to receive much attention. I’ll check the site and decide whether or not to write a blog post about it. If I do, I will put your message there.
      Thanks for following this blog and good luck.
      Ron Miksha


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