Zebra mussels line the shoreline of Lake Michigan.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Joseph Resnick aspires to solve a problem that has plagued American ecological groups for three decades: He wants to eradicate the invasive quagga and zebra mussels from freshwater sources, from coast to coast. With microscopic extracts of cannabidiol (CBD), he may have the answer that thousands of people and billions of dollars have sought all along.

In December 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation launched a prize competition seeking environmentally sound solutions to those invasive species’ rapid proliferation, one of the great ecological problems of this century.

Since those species were first discovered in Great Lakes ballast water in the late 1980s, neither public nor private ingenuity has devised a solution to their alarming and food chain-disrupting existence. In 2007, a man found a quagga mussel in Lake Mead, 30 miles east of Las Vegas. The problem had clearly surpassed the bounds of the Great Lakes, and it’s only gotten worse. The Columbia River watershed, in the Pacific Northwest, is the last watershed known to be free of these mussels in the lower 48 states.

After a lone quagga mussel was found in Lake Mead in 2007, observers noted that the population had exploded into “the trillions” by 2009, according to the Associated Press. Each female, to be clear, has the ability to lay 30,000 eggs per breeding cycle. 

Zebra mussels clustered on a tree
iStock

A thriving population of these mussels will inevitably drain an ecosystem of its plankton, out-competing most fish species and causing a breakdown in the food chain. Because they stick to surfaces, like pipes or piers, the sheer mass of mussel colonies can also destroy public infrastructure.

The federal government needs a solution as quickly as possible.

Since quagga and zebra mussels were first discovered in Great Lakes ballast water in the late 1980s, neither public nor private ingenuity has devised a solution to their alarming and food chain-disrupting existence.

“I’ve been involved for the last couple years here in developing new uses and processes for cannabis,” Resnick says. “I became interested in using cannabidiol as a method of treating this invasion of quagga mussels and zebra mussels that has actually plagued the United States for the last 30 years.”

As the emeritus chief scientist of RMANNCO, a North Carolina-based research firm, he’s leading the innovative delivery system behind this CBD project. If his plan works, the U.S. government may find that CBD — a Schedule-I banned substance, in its eyes — can solve the problem of quagga and zebra mussel reproduction, a multi-billion-dollar fiasco for American businesses and communities.

A beach full of zebra mussel shells
Adobestock

With a full career of innovative technology under his belt — covering the depths of nano-particulate matter to the final frontier of outer space at NASA — Resnick plans to encapsulate powdered cannabinoids in “microspheres,” made of a natural biopolymer, and transport the chemicals directly to the mussels. “It’s the damnedest thing you’ve ever seen,” he says.

The biopolymer itself is 1.8 times heavier than water, and Resnick also fills his microspheres with sulfur hexafluoride, which is six times heavier than air. Those density measures are important: This is how Resnick gets his cannabis product to the mussels.

“Consequently, [the microsphere] does not float. It sinks in water,” he says. “Imagine if you will a BB. Imagine taking a handful of BBs and dropping them in the water.”

Eric is the digital editor of sister publications Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary. esandy@gie.net