Cannabis For Dummies
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Cannabis is a broad topic that covers buying cannabis (marijuana), using it (medicinally for cancer or glaucoma or other diseases, and recreationally), complying with various laws, growing it, working in the industry, starting a cannabis business, and even investing in cannabis. This Cheat Sheet summarizes some of the key topics.

3 primary cannabis strains

Whether you’re buying, consuming, or growing cannabis, you need to know the differences among the three primary strains from which all well-known hybrid strains (such as Pineapple Express and OG Kush) are grown.

The table below lists the strains, their structures, characteristics, and their medicinal effects.

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Strain Structure Characteristics Best for
Indica Short, bushy

Condensed root system

Sturdy stalks

Wide leaves

Dense, heavy buds

Higher in CBD

Lower in THC


Nighttime use


Appetite stimulation

Sleep aid

Anxiety relief

Relief from pain and inflammation

Nausea suppressant

Sativa Tall

Long, slender branches

Expansive root system

Long, narrow leaves

Higher in THC

Lower in CBD


Daytime use



Increased energy

Increased focus


Ruderalis Small



Fewer branches

High CBD



Cross-breeding with indicas and sativas to create auto-flowering hybrids

1 Requires a shift in duration of light/dark to flower.

How to differentiate among key cannabinoids

Cannabis contains a variety of chemical compounds called cannabinoids that act on receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system to produce different effects. They also work synergistically with one another and with other chemical compounds to enhance the overall experience—a phenomenon known as the “entourage effect.” Here, we compare the best-known cannabinoids.

Cannabinoid Psychoactive Commonly Used for
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Strong Energy




Cannabidiol (CBD) No Pain relief

Anxiety relief

Seizure prevention

Inflammation relief



Cannabigerol (CBG) No Pain relief

Muscle relaxant

Anti-erythemic (reduces redness in skin)


Anti-proliferative (may slow the spread of cancer cells)




Cannabinol (CBN) Mild Pain relief

Inflammation relief

Sleep aid

Bone support

Nausea relief

Appetite stimulation


9-tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCa) No Appetite stimulation

Relief for nausea/vomiting

Inflammation relief

Inhibition of prostate growth

Slow the progression of certain neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCv ) Mild Appetite suppression

Bone support

Diabetes management

Alzheimer’s relief

PTSD relief of panic attacks

Terpenes and the cannabis 'entourage effect'

Terpenes are aromatic chemical compounds in plants that give them their unique aroma and flavor. They may also work synergistically with cannabinoids and other terpenes to enhance the overall effect of the cannabis — a phenomenon commonly referred to as the “entourage effect.”

Terpene Aroma/flavor Effects
Carene Woody (cedar, pine) Dries excess bodily fluid, including tears and saliva, may cause dry mouth and eye sensations
D-Limonene Citrus Aids in the absorption of other terpenes through skin and mucous membranes, anti-anxiety, immunosuppressant, antidepressant, antibacterial, gastroprotective, kills breast cancer cells
Geraniol Floral (rose) Mosquito repellant, protective against neuropathy
Humulene Earthy, hoppy Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-proliferative, anorectic (appetite suppressant)
Linalool Floral and sweet citrus often found in lavender Anti-anxiety, sedative, local anesthetic, analgesic, anti-convulsive
Myrcene Earthy, hoppy with tropical fruit Sedative, analgesic, antibiotic, muscle relaxant
Terpineol Floral (lilac) Relaxation
Terpinolene Floral with a smoky woodiness Highly sedative, anti-microbial, anti-proliferative
α-Pinene Pine Anti-inflammatory, bronchodilation, anti-microbial, focus and memory enhancement
β-Caryophyllene Pepper, clove, spice Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, antidepressant, antioxidant, anti-microbial, gastroprotective

10 tips growing more and better cannabis

When you’re growing your own cannabis (marijuana), the two goals are more and better. Here are ten tips to get you there.

  • Start with feminized seeds. You won’t get buds from a male plant (sorry guys). Buy feminized seeds at your local dispensary or grow outlet.
  • Use quality soil. Soil must absorb moisture but also drain well. If in doubt, buy a pre-mix soil from a local nursery. A soil made for tomatoes works well for cannabis too.
  • Upsize your container. If the container’s too small, it stunts the plant’s growth.
  • Use the right nutrients at the right times. During the vegetative stage, use a fertilizer with high nitrogen, medium phosphorous, and high potassium. In the flower stage, switch to a fertilizer with low nitrogen, medium to high phosphorous, and high potassium.
  • Increase light intensity. Generally speaking, the more intense the light, the bigger and more productive the plant. Just be sure not to burn the plants and, if you’re growing photoperiod plants, that you switch to a 12-hour on, 12-hour off light cycle when you’re plants are ready to enter the flowering stage.
  • Increase CO2: When growing indoors, if you increase the light intensity, add CO2, so the plants can take full advantage of the increased light intensity. The CO2 concentration should be between 700 and 900 parts per million (ppm) during the vegetative stage and between 1,200 and 1,500 ppm during the flowering stage.
  • Prune your plants. Remove low branches that aren’t receiving light, dead or yellowing leaves, branches that are growing up through the center of the plant, and, during the flowering stage, any fan leaves that are sitting on other leaves or preventing light from reaching other parts of the plant.
  • Train your plants. You can use various techniques to make your plant grow more horizontally, thus exposing a greater area of the plant to light and increasing flower production. Techniques include trellising, low-stress training (LST), and scrogging.
  • Flush the grow medium. Up to two weeks prior to harvest, flush the grow medium with pure reverse osmosis (RO) or distilled water to dissolve and remove accumulated salts that can negatively affect the way the plant burns and tastes.
  • Harvest at peak potency. When about a third of the trichomes turn amber and most are cloudy white, your plant is ready to harvest. Trichomes form the sticky crystal substance that covers the bud; they contain most of the cannabinoids and terpenes in the plant.

8 reasons to think twice about starting a cannabis business

People who are passionate about cannabis often dream of starting their own cannabis business. A huge percentage of those businesses fail, and not necessarily due to a lack of effort or expertise. Here are ten reasons why you may want to think twice about starting a cannabis business:

  • Federal taxes: Due to federal 280E legislation that disallows traditional income tax deductions for cannabis businesses, your business income will be taxed at an effective rate of 75–95 percent.
  • State and local taxes: While most state and local taxes are passed along to the consumer, these taxes raise the prices of products for consumers, which can negatively impact your sales.
  • License fees: A license to open a cannabis business is likely to cost more than $60,000! In addition, you’ll probably need the help of a high-priced consultant or lawyer to guide you through the application process.
  • Compliance costs hassles: The rules and regulations governing cannabis businesses are costly and complex, and you’d better follow them to the letter or you stand to lose that license you paid over $60K for!
  • Competition: Competition in the industry is stiff, including competition from black market sellers who may be able to undercut you on price because they don’t pay taxes.
  • Criminals: The combination of cash and drugs is attractive to criminals, who are willing to snatch both. Your business will be a prime target.
  • Inaccessible banking: Most banks are prohibited or reluctant to serve cannabis businesses, meaning all transactions must be in cash. You even have to pay your employees and your taxes in cash.
  • Limited access to bank loans: You can’t get a loan from a federally insured bank, because they’re prohibited by law from profiting from cannabis.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Kim Ronkin Casey has been a communications professional for more than 20 years and recently took a year-long leap into the world of cannabis as the communications manager for one of the leading dispensaries in North America. She now consults for companies in the industry on internal and external communications. Joe Kraynak is a professional writer who has contributed to numerous For Dummies books.

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