Hoax: Scientist Creates ‘Pot Orange’

By | January 6, 2009

Hoax: Scientist Creates 'Pot Orange'

It was in the fall of 1984 that the John Chapman Professor of Biochemistry at Florida State University, now driving to work behind the wheel of a used Pontiac Bonneville, first set on a pet project that he hoped would "dissolve irrational legislation with a solid dose of reason." Nanofsky knew he would never get his family's car back, but he had plans to make sure that no one else would be pulled through the gears of what he considers a Kafka-esque drug enforcement bureaucracy.

"It's quite simple, really," Nanofsky explains, "I wanted to combine Citrus sinesis with Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol." In layman's terms, the respected college professor proposed to grow oranges that would contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Fourteen years later, that project is complete, and Nanofsky has succeeded where his letter writing campaign of yore failed: he has the undivided attention of the nation's top drug enforcement agencies, political figures, and media outlets.

The turning point in the Nanofsky saga came when the straight-laced professor posted a message to Internet newsgroups announcing that he was offering "cannabis-equivalent orange tree seeds" at no cost via the U.S. mail. Several weeks later, U.S. Justice Department officials showed up at the mailing address used in the Internet announcement: a tiny office on the second floor of the Dittmer Laboratory of Chemistry building on the FSU campus. There they would wait for another 40 minutes before Prof. Nanofsky finished delivering a lecture to graduate students on his recent research into the "cis-trans photoisomerization of olefins."

"I knew it was only a matter of time before someone sent me more than just a self-addressed stamped envelope," Nanofsky quips, "but I was surprised to see Janet Reno's special assistant at my door." After a series of closed door discussions, Nanofsky agreed to cease distribution of the THC-orange seeds until the legal status of the possibly narcotic plant species is established.

Much to the chagrin of authorities, the effort to regulate Nanofsky's invention may be too little too late. Several hundred packets containing 40 to 50 seeds each have already been sent to those who've requested them, and Nanofsky is not obliged to produce his mailing records. Under current law, no crime has been committed and it is unlikely that charges will be brought against the fruit's inventor.

Now it is federal authorities who must confront the nation's unwieldy body of inconsistent drug laws. According to a source at the Drug Enforcement Agency, it may be months if not years before all the issues involved are sorted out, leaving a gaping hole in U.S. drug policy in the meantime. At the heart of the confusion is the fact that THC now naturally occurs in a new species of citrus fruit.

As policy analysts and hemp advocates alike have been quick to point out, the apparent legality (for now) of Nanofsky's "pot orange" may render debates over the legalization of marijuana moot. In fact, Florida's top law enforcement officials admit that even if the cultivation of Nanofsky's orange were to be outlawed, it would be exceedingly difficult to identify the presence of outlawed fruit among the state's largest agricultural crop. … – thecrit

Some comments:

The THC Oranges story is a well crafted hoax recently rediscovered and posted on High Times as news. From there it went to dozens of forums.
There was never a Nanofsky at florida state. This article is a hoax-type of deal. If only..
The idea of nicotine tomatoes would actually be much more viable than THC oranges, since the tomato plant and tobacco are related (both are nighshades).
Here’s the link to the paper on the discovery of the THC gene (pdf), and the creation of a yeast strain that produces THC. Oranges are next!


3 thoughts on “Hoax: Scientist Creates ‘Pot Orange’

  1. taytay

    I ate an orange in San Francisco in the year 2000 that got me as stoned as any brownie could have. The details of this story in Florida are indeed fictional. The weed orange however is a real thing, the government just stopped it before seeds were mass produced and distributed. The proliferation of this species would have upended the war on drugs and cmplicated the hell out of the up and coming war on terror. It was handled much like the half a dozen inventions that could have replaced our dependence on fossil fuels over the last 40 years that just disappeared. It was treated as a national security threat and I guess rightfully so. The implications of a psychoactive substance being distributed in the form of something so commonplace are frightening. Oops, honey which oranges did you put in the fruit salad for the elementary school potluck?

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