Astronauts haven't landed on Mars yet, but when they do, they will be able to grow marijuana there. And they'll have researchers like biologist Mike Dixon to thank for that breakthrough in extraterrestrial cannabis cultivation.
Dixon, who works at the University of Guelph in Canada, has developed a cultivation chamber called 'The Fridge,' which can grow edible vegetation on the Red Planet. But since there's no need to start planting Martian crops just yet, he's been using that tech to grow marijuana on Earth.
“All the technologies required to [grow fresh food in space] are being deployed in the service of growing really good marijuana,” Dixon told MOTHERBOARD recently.
'The Fridge' will be able to support astronauts as they explore Mars, but to live there, Dixon thinks settlers will need inflatable greenhouses that can be compressed and packed inside a space shuttle. But he says it will be a long, long time before we get to the point where we'll use this tech.
“It’s a long road, it’s 50 or 100 years from now before we have substantial plant production systems on Mars, for example, to support human exploration,” Dixon said. “We’re not just instantly going to blast off to Mars and grow 10 acres of tomatoes under an inflatable structure. There’s a lot of baby steps.”
But when we get to that point, Dixon doesn't think it will be much longer before astronauts start growing marijuana on Mars.
“You can’t afford to spend that kind of space exploration currency on growing plants you can’t eat — yet,” Dixon noted. "[But] they’re going to grow barley and make single malt whiskey at some point. Why not marijuana?”
So the only question left is, what would you name the first Martian strain — Red Planet Kush or Olympus Mons OG?