The legendary drug habits of gonzo maverick Hunter S. Thompson may have been immortalized in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, but they live on, more tangibly, in the form of actual weed. After he died, the author left behind six strains of weed at his home Owl Farm, and now his widow Anita Thompson plans to grow them so all of his fans can share in his private stash. Left with nothing but dry bud, however, she’s using scientific means to help spread the wealth without breaking the law.
In a Facebook post, she announced that she had found a legal way to extract DNA from Hunter’s weed and hashish stash, which is some 12-15 years old. “I am in the process of making the strains available to those who would like to enjoy the authentic Gonzo strains in legal states,” she wrote. She is being extra-careful about complying with the law: While weed is legal in Colorado, where Owl Farm is situated, it’s not exactly kosher to carry it over state lines. In a comment on her Facebook post, she explained that she is skirting this legal hurdle by extracting the DNA from the cannabis in Colorado and sending the extract to Massachusetts for analysis and, presumably, cloning:
We are in the process of extracting the DNA from Hunter’s marijuana and hashish now — we don’t know what they are yet. In the past, there was no legal way for us to extract the DNA. But I recently I found a lab in Boston that will determine the strains from the DNA sent over state lines (legally) from a Colorado lab.
While she didn’t explain what exactly the Boston lab technicians will do with the weed DNA, it’s likely they will insert parts of it into the genomes of cells from existing marijuana strains to create a hybrid variety. They might also clone the cannabis DNA outright; in theory, this would involve extracting the whole genome, making copies of it, then inserting that genome in its entirety into another marijuana cell that’s been emptied of its DNA. For either technique, large amounts of DNA extract are necessary, so Thompson better hope her technicians are good at their job.
Her cannabis-selling initiative, she says, is one way of keeping her late husband’s legacy alive, though she admitted to the Aspen Times that she was reluctant to do so because she was worried the memory of his hard-partying lifestyle would overshadow the more important impact of his literary work.
Now, however, she says she is “looking forward to being a drug lord” — one that will use the profits from her Gonzo-branded weed to support Owl Farm and The Gonzo Foundation’s scholarships to young writers and military veterans. Her late husband, no doubt, is rolling one in his grave.