Cannabis For Dummies book cover

Cannabis For Dummies

By: Kim Ronkin Casey and Joe Kraynak Published: 05-07-2019

Make informed decisions about the benefits of using cannabis

Pot is hot—for good reason. To date, 30 states have legalized medical marijuana to the tune of nearly $11B in consumer spending. Whether it’s to help alleviate symptoms of an illness or for adults to use recreationally, more people every day are turning to marijuana.

Cannabis For Dummies presents the science behind the use of this amazingly therapeutic plant. Inside, you’ll find the hands-on knowledge and education you need to make an informed decision about your cannabis purchase, as a patient and a consumer. 

  • Decide for yourself if marijuana is right for you
  • Manage aches and pains
  • Gain insight on the effects and possible symptom relief Enjoy both sweet and savory edibles
  • Navigate the legal requirements

If you’re curious about cannabis, everything you need to discover its many benefits is a page away!

 

Articles From Cannabis For Dummies

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11 results
Recipes for Medical Cannabis Desserts

Article / Updated 03-31-2022

Based on the number of recipes available for cannabis-infused desserts, most people seem to prefer to take their cannabis after or between meals. Here are some cannabis-infused dessert recipes that represent a diverse range of desserts from cookies and brownies to cakes and pies, along with sweet sauces to dribble on ice cream and other dessert favorites. Almond Cutout Cookies Source: Janielle Hultberg, Private Chef Serving size depends on the size of the cutout for the cookies. Ingredients 8 oz unsalted cannabis-infused butter, cold and cubed 5 oz powdered sugar 1/2 tsp salt 11 oz gluten-free flour blend 4 oz almond meal 2 egg yolks (save whites for icing) Directions Cream butter and sugar and add egg yolks one at a time. Add powdered sugar, salt, flour, and almond meal and continue mixing until dough forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap or put in Ziploc bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F. On lightly dusted (with arrowroot powder or corn starch) board/counter/table, roll dough to desired thickness, cut out, and bake until lightly golden. Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies Source: Janielle Hultberg, Private Chef Serving size depends on size of cookie. Ingredients 1/2 cup unsalted cannabis-infused butter (See “Buddha Budda” recipe.) 1/2 cup coconut oil 3/4 cup palm sugar 1/4 cup agave syrup 2 eggs plus 1 egg white 1 tsp vanilla 2 1/4 cups gluten free flour blend 1/4 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 2 1/4 cup gluten free oats 1 cup dark chocolate chips 1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice Optional: You may replace chocolate chips with 1 cup craisins or any other dried fruit. You may also add 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Directions Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease baking pan or line it with parchment paper. Mix all ingredients until thoroughly blended. Using a spoon, scoop batter onto greased pan or parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10–15 minutes to the desired crispness. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack. Eat warm or store in airtight container in refrigerator or freezer. French Toast Cupcakes Source: Sweet Mary Jane: 75 Delicious Cannabis-Infused High-End Desserts, a 2015 Random House title (978-1583335659) Makes 12 servings Ingredients Cupcakes 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup sugar 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp ground allspice 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 cup Buddha Budda, slightly softened (See the “Buddha Budda” recipe.) 1/2 cup sour cream 2 large eggs 1/2 tsp maple extract 4 slices bacon Topping 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup sugar 2 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/4 cup chopped pecans Directions Prepare the topping: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon, and pecans. Using your fingers, mix in the butter until no pieces are larger than a small pea. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the Buddha Budda, sour cream, eggs, and maple extract until completely smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture. Beat until just combined. Fill each well of the muffin tin three-quarters of the way with batter. Divide the topping evenly and sprinkle it over the top of each cupcake, gently pressing it into the batter with your fingertips. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the tin for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut the bacon into 12 pieces total and press a piece onto the top of each muffin. If you are going to freeze these, omit the bacon. Store the bacon-topped cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to three months. Reheat in the toaster oven for extra deliciousness. Key Lime Kickers Source: Sweet Mary Jane: 75 Delicious Cannabis-Infused High-End Desserts, a 2015 Random House title (978-1583335659) Makes 24 truffles Ingredients 6 Tbsp heavy cream 2 Tbsp unsalted butter 1/4 cup Hey Sugar! (See the “Hey Sugar!” recipe.) 10 oz good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped 8 drips pure key lime oil Graham cracker crumbs, for coating Key lime oil can be found in craft shops and natural food grocers, or ordered online. Directions Weigh the bowl that will hold the finished ganache and write down this number. Set up a double boiler with 2–3 inches of water in the bottom pot and bring the water to a simmer. Pour the cream in the top section and heat until it begins to simmer gently. Stir in the butter, corn syrup, and Hey Sugar!. When well combined, add the white chocolate; stir well. When the ganache is smooth, remove the top section of the double boiler from the heat and add the key lime oil, stirring to combine. Wipe the water off the bottom and sides of the pan (you don’t want any water dripping into the ganache) and pour the ganache into the bowl you weighed previously. Place in the freezer for 45–60 minutes, or until the ganache is firm but pliable. Place the graham cracker crumbs in a shallow bowl. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Weigh the ganache, subtract the weight of the bowl, and divide by 24: This is your per-truffle weight. Using a spoon, scoop out the ganache, weigh to make sure it’s the correct portion, and set on one of the prepared baking sheets. Using your hands, quickly roll the ganache into balls and then roll in the graham cracker crumbs to coat completely. Set the truffles on the second prepared baking sheet. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 weeks. Truffles are best served at room temperature. Merciful Source: Sweet Mary Jane: 75 Delicious Cannabis-Infused High-End Desserts, a 2015 Random House title (978-1583335659) Makes 18 brownies Ingredients Vegetable shortening, for greasing the pan 3/4 cup Buddha Budda (See “Buddha Budda” recipe.) 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter 10 oz semisweet chocolate 4 oz unsweetened chocolate 6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder 6 large eggs 2 1/2 cups sugar 1 tsp salt 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract 2 cups all-purpose flour Drizzle 1/2 cup white chocolate chips 1/4 tsp vegetable shortening Directions Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 10-by-15-inch baking pan. In a small saucepan, melt the Buddha Budda and butter together over low heat. Add the semisweet and unsweetened chocolates and stir until the chocolates have melted. Whisk in the cocoa powder and remove from the heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla until well combined. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk well. Fold in the flour. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 18–20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Let cool completely before cutting into 18 equal-sized bars. Prepare the drizzle: In the top section of a double boiler, melt the white chocolate and the shortening over simmering water. Stir continuously until the chocolate has melted, being careful not to get any water into the chocolate or it will seize. Chocolate should melt into a smooth, satiny pool, but it’s temperamental and won’t tolerate moisture. If even the tiniest bit of condensation drips down the inside of a pan, or if steam escapes from the bottom of the double boiler, the chocolate will react badly, becoming a grainy mess; this is known as “seizing.” Dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle it over the tops of the brownies. Let the chocolate set. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Michelle’s Bombass Balls (or Just the Chocolate Sauce Source: Michelle Karlebach, Nectar Cannabis 15 servings based on quarter-sized patties Ingredients For patties: 1 cup (about 10 to 12) pitted medjool dates 1 cup cashews 3 Tbsp creamy almond butter 1 Tbsp maple syrup 1 cup shredded coconut (or 1/2 with 1/2 cup of hemp hearts) Pinch of sea salt (optional) For chocolate sauce: 1/4 cup maple syrup 1/2 cup raw cacao or cocoa powder 1/2 cup melted coconut oil (the desired amount of medicated coconut oil should be included in this quantity. If you use only medicated coconut oil, you will have very strong patties!) 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp chili powder Himalayan salt Directions In a food processor, mix cashews until crumbly. Add dates, almond butter, and maple syrup and continue mixing. Transfer to a bowl. Place shredded coconut into a shallow bowl or a plate. Roll mixture from food processor into balls about the size of a quarter and flatten gently between hands to form a patty. Press the patties into coconut mixture to coat. Place patties on a tray or sheet lined with parchment paper and pace in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Whisk together ingredients for chocolate sauce in a bowl. Dip most of each frozen patty into chocolate sauce and place on parchment paper. Place tray back in freezer. Double dip! Re-dip the patties into the remaining chocolate, sprinkle Himalayan salt on top, and then return to freezer until hard. Makes about 15 servings depending on how big your balls are! Store in an airtight container in either fridge or freezer. Enjoy and please do so responsibly. Michelle’s Medicated Blueberry Pie Source: Michelle Karlebach, Nectar Cannabis This pie is what started my love of edibles! Cannabis and blueberries really complement each other beautifully. It also takes about 10 minutes to get it in the oven if you opt for store-bought crust, so it’s fast and easy! If you’re vegan, you can use medicated coconut oil instead of the butter with a vegan pie crust recipe. Approximately 6 to 8 slices in a 9-inch diameter pie Ingredients 6 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (You may substitute some pitted cherries, too!) 1 Tbsp lemon juice 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup white sugar 1/4 tsp cinnamon 2 Tbsp medicated butter, cut into small pieces (You may substitute medicated coconut oil) Double recipe for pie crust, or buy roll-out kind from the store Directions Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix blueberries, lemon juice, flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Roll out the bottom pie crust in a pie dish. Transfer blueberry mixture into the bottom pie crust and dot pieces of medicated butter along the top. Place top crust over blueberry mixture, tuck the top dough over and under the edge of the bottom crust, and pinch together. Cut slits into top of pie. (Consider cutting slits into the pattern of a smiley face!) Place the pie on the middle rack for 20 minutes at 425°F, reduce heat to 350°F, and bake for 30–40 minutes longer. Allow to cool completely before serving. No-Guilt Nosh Source: Janielle Hultberg, Private Chef Number of servings depends on serving size of ball Ingredients 1 cup dates 1 cup raw almonds 1 cup raw walnuts 2 Tbsp cannabis-infused coconut oil (or infused butter) 1 Tbsp flax meal 1 Tbsp water Shredded coconut Directions In food processor blend all ingredients except for the shredded coconut until you can form balls out of dough. Roll a small portion of dough between the palms of your hands to form a ball about the diameter of a quarter. Roll the ball over the shredded coconut and place it on parchment paper. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Sesame Seed Cookies Source: Janielle Hultberg, Private Chef Approximately 24 cookies Ingredients 2 1/2 cups sesame seeds 1 cup palm sugar 2 Tbsp dark agave syrup 8 oz unsalted cannabis-infused butter, room temp 2 eggs Pinch of salt 1/8 tsp baking powder 1 1/3 cup gluten-free flour blend Directions Grease baking pan or line it with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast sesame seeds until lightly golden and let cool. Cream together butter, sugar, and syrup, scraping the bowl often. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl a couple of times. Add salt, baking powder, flour, and seeds, and mix well. Using a teaspoon, scoop the cookie dough out on the baking pan or parchment paper spacing at least 2 inches apart. Bake 6–8 minutes until golden. They’ll be crispy when cooled.

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How to Make Extracts from Cannabis

Article / Updated 03-31-2022

Concentrates and extracts can be made from medical cannabis through a variety of extraction methods, some more complex and dangerous than others. The extraction method of choice is based on the desired end product, as presented in the following table. Choosing an Extraction Method Desired End Product Concentrate/ Extract Extraction Method Starting Material Various concentrates and MIPs Kief Dry sift Flower Smoke product or edible Hash Ice water and agitation Hand rolling Flower Dab and other products Rosin or whipped rosin Pressure and heat Bubble hash, kief, flower Dab and other products Shatter, wax, live resin, THC crystalline, or terpene juice Butane or propane Flower for shatter and wax Frozen flower for live resin, THC crystalline, and terpene juice Vape oil and other products Oil CO2 Flower and trim Edibles Butter Heat Flower and trim Tinctures Tincture Alcohol or glycerin Flower and trim Non-solvent extraction methods for cannabis The most common non-solvent extraction methods use water or a combination of heat and pressure. These methods are much easier than solvent methods to perform safely and typically are less strictly regulated. Dry sift Dry sift consists of physically knocking the trichomes off the flower and collecting them to produce kief. Many herb grinders have three chambers; as you grind your flower, it falls into the second chamber that has a screen on the bottom through which the kief passes, collecting in the third chamber. To produce larger volumes of kief, you can use silk screening equipment to separate the kief from the plant matter. Hand rolling One of the oldest methods for making hash is hand rolling. You start with fresh cannabis (not dried or cured) and gently roll it between the palms of your hands. The sticky trichomes come off the plant and stick to your hands. You can then scrape the substance off or continue to rub your hands together to create a sticky ball or stick of hash — commonly referred to as “charas.” Ice water or dry ice If you’re interested in creating your own concentrates, the ice water and dry ice methods are safest and easiest. The process consists of placing flower in ice water to freeze the trichomes and then agitating the mixture to knock the trichomes off the flower. You then filter the mixture through progressively smaller screens to remove the plant matter. You place the wet hash in a cool, dark place to dry it, and then you press it into cakes to create hashish — technically referred to as bubble hash. You can smoke bubble hash or use it as an ingredient in edible products. Pressure and heat To create rosin, you apply pressure and heat to flower, kief, or bubble hash. You can purchase a rosin press that’s built specifically for the job or use a hair straightener or T-shirt press. You place your starting flower, kief, or bubble hash between two pieces of parchment paper or in a small-micron bag and squeeze it between two heated metal plates. You can whip rosin by stirring it to create a consistency that’s more like peanut butter, which may make it easier to handle and to mix with other edible ingredients, but whipping may reduce its potency. Heat and butter By baking cannabis and then simmering it in butter and water, you can create your own cannabis-infused butter. When it cools, the butter separates out from the water, and you can discard the water. You can then use the butter to create your own edibles. Alcohol By baking cannabis and then simmering it in alcohol, you can create your own tinctures, which you can take sublingually or add to beverages. Solvent extraction methods for cannabis In solvent extraction processes, a solvent is added to the plant material. Pressure and temperature are then altered to enable the solvent to dissolve the desired components of the plant. Any remaining solvent is removed, leaving behind the oils, cannabinoids, and terpenes extracted from the plant. Think of solvent extraction methods like brewing a pot of coffee. You pour hot water over coffee grounds contained in a filter. The hot water acts as a solvent, extracting the caffeine and the substances that give coffee its aroma and flavor. The filter removes all the plant matter — the ground coffee beans. Although hot water isn’t the greatest solvent for cannabis, the concept is the same. Below, we describe several different solvent extraction methods, so you have a general idea of what’s involved in each process. Don’t try any solvent extraction method at home. Combinations of solvents, heat, pressure, and even static electricity can result in deadly explosions. If you work in an extraction facility, safety is your top priority. Many regulatory bodies require closed loop systems, which allow only minute amounts of solvents into the surrounding air; the result is that volatile fumes can easily build up in the contained spaces of a facility. Facilities employing this type of extraction should include filters, fire resistant building materials, sensors, alarms, and safety protocols. Personnel should be required to wear fireproof coverings and anti-static footwear (to prevent sparks). Any plastic materials, including plastic bags, which are susceptible to creating static electricity, should be banned. Even the smallest spark can ignite the volatile gasses and cause an explosion. Personnel must be trained properly on all processes and procedures and should perform their duties with the utmost care and diligence. Butane, propane, or both Butane and propane are commonly used as solvents to create extracts referred to as butane hash oil (BHO) or propane hash oil (PHO). Depending on the raw materials and the process, the extracts produced vary in consistency and include shatter, wax, budder, live resin, THC crystalline, and terpene juice, most of which you can purchase at a dispensary. Regardless of whether the solvent used is butane, propane, or a combination of the two, the process is generally the same. Plant matter is placed in a column with a screen at one end, and butane passes through the column, extracting the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant matter. The solution is then placed in a vacuum oven to purge (evaporate) the solvent, leaving behind the BHO or PHO, which should contain very little to no solvent. In commercial facilities, butane and propane extractions also involve manipulating pressure and temperature. Pressurizing and chilling the gas converts it to a liquid, which can then be mixed with the plant matter to create a “soup.” A vacuum oven uses heat and depressurization to convert the solvent back into its gas form, and the gas is reclaimed. The process is most safely performed using a closed loop system — an automated or semi-automated system that regulates the parameters of the process. Due to the hazards associated with these solvents, many regulatory bodies require special licensing and permits to perform butane and propane extractions. A closed loop system uses heat to reclaim the gas from the “soup” prior to placing it in the oven. CO2 CO2 extraction is similar to that of butane and propane extraction in that it manipulates the temperature and the pressure of a gas to extract substances from cannabis plants. However, CO2 extraction has some notable benefits: The CO2 extraction process kills any mold or bacteria in the processed plant matter, as it does in the butane and propane extractions. Pressure and temperature can be manipulated to extract selected compounds from the plant instead of just a combination of all compounds blended together. The process doesn’t involve the use of volatile gasses. However, due to high pressures, the process isn’t completely safe. CO2 tanks and other equipment have been known to explode. The one potential drawback of CO2 extraction is that the extracts may lack the flavor profile (due to a loss of terpene content) present in BHO and PHO. Oil produced by CO2 extraction is used in almost every vaporizer (vape) device on the market. It’s also used for dabbing and to manufacture a wide variety of MIPs, including edibles and lotions. Terpenes are sometimes added back into the CO2 oil to add desired flavors and aroma. You may have heard about Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), named after its creator, who claims it cured his cancer. While we respect Mr. Simpson’s work and especially his dedication to helping others, we caution you not to try it yourself. His method involves the use of toxic, volatile solvents along with boiling off the solvents. The fumes can be very harmful and, when combined with the heat needed for the boiling-off process, susceptible to explosion. While he provides guidance on how to reduce the risks, the process is still dangerous, especially if done indoors, which would be a big no-no.

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Cannabis Health and Safety Risks

Article / Updated 03-31-2022

Cannabis does pose certain risks to the health and safety of some consumers and others, especially if the consumer fails to use responsibly. Some of the more common short-term (transitory) and long-term adverse effects of cannabis are mentioned in this article to call your attention to the potential downside of using or abusing it. Cannabis flower and other products contain different concentrations of different cannabinoids — the primary active components in cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive component that produces the euphoric high. Cannabidiol (CBD) doesn’t produce an intoxicating effect but can make you drowsy and lower your blood pressure, so it’s not risk-free. Undesirable transitory effects of cannabis Cannabis consumption can produce a number of undesirable effects that arise particularly when the concentration of THC is high and the consumer consumes too much. These effects are transitory; that is, they go away over time, assuming the person stops consuming for several hours. Undesirable transitory side effects include the following: Impaired motor control: Slowed reflexes and impaired physical coordination negatively impact your ability to drive or operate machinery. Impaired memory and cognition: Your ability to learn or remember, to think or communicate clearly, or to make decisions may be diminished. These adverse side effects could negatively impact a consumer’s performance at school or at work and compromise their problem-solving and communication skills. Altered perception of time: Cannabis can make you feel as though time has slowed down. You may like or dislike this feeling, but it can pose a safety risk if you’re crossing the street, driving, operating machinery, or even cooking. Of course, it may also make you feel as though you’ve accomplished more in less time. Anxiety or paranoia: Although cannabis is generally associated with a calm sense of bliss, it can increase anxiety to the point of paranoia or even delusional thinking (distorted thoughts or emotions) or psychosis (a break with reality). Whether cannabis calms or creates anxiety can be related to the person, the product, the dose, the person’s state of mind, or a combination of factors. Light headedness or fainting: Cannabis may cause a temporary drop in blood pressure (if you’re susceptible) that can make you feel lightheaded or dizzy or may cause you to faint. Increased heart rate: Cannabis can raise a person’s heart rate for up to three hours after the effect kicks in, which may increase the chance of heart attack in those with pre-existing vulnerabilities. If you’re older or have a history or family history of cardiovascular issues, you should be aware of this fact. Another transitory issue to consider is the fact that THC remains in the body (in fat-soluble tissue) long after it has been consumed, which increases the potential of failing a drug test. While testing is improving, current tests are unable to differentiate residual from recent-use THC. Typically, THC is detectible in bodily fluids for up to 30 days, but for daily heavy users, that period may extend to more than 90 days! Potential long-term complications of cannabis Long-term health problems related to cannabis are typically associated with continuous heavy usage over months or years. Possible adverse long-term side effects include the following: Breathing difficulties: If you choose smoking as your method of consuming cannabis, you’re at an increased risk of having respiratory issues, including bronchitis, lung infections, wheezing, and coughing. As with tobacco, the combustion of cannabis plant material produces tar and other toxins, carcinogens, and irritants that are unhealthy for the lungs. You can avoid this particular long-term side effect by not smoking cannabis. Plenty of consumption methods, like edibles, are available that don’t involve smoke. Psychiatric issues: Long-term cannabis use has been linked to increased risks of anxiety, depression, and psychosis. It also may increase the risk of schizophrenia in people who are predisposed to that condition. Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS): CHS is a condition in which continuous heavy consumers experience regular cycles of severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration. These symptoms typically subside when the consumer stops using cannabis, so it’s both a transitory and long-term effect. Continuous heavy consumption of cannabis also has the potential to cause problems beyond health issues, including increased absences and poorer performance at work or school, relationship issues, and decreased satisfaction with life in general for some individuals. To reduce the risk of long-term adverse effects, consume in moderation — both in frequency and amount — especially if you’re a recreational user (as with other substances). That way, you can reap the benefits of cannabis while avoiding many of the most serious adverse effects. With rights come responsibilities. Even in areas where cannabis is legal, you’re expected and legally obligated to consume responsibly for the health and safety of yourself and others. Being a responsible consumer means no mixing cannabis with other drugs, medications, or psychoactive substances; using in moderation; making rational decisions; and staying home or using a designated driver when you’re high or plan to become high. Use cannabis in moderation Moderation is the key to reaping the greatest benefits from cannabis and avoiding the worst of its potential adverse effects. Moderate use can also save you a good deal of money! As a general rule, moderation means taking the smallest amount necessary to achieve the desired effect. Here are some general guidelines for any given session: 1–5 mg for beginning users 5–10 mg for occasional users 10–20 mg for frequent users For medical cannabis use, consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider Make rational decisions about cannabis High doses of cannabis products with high concentrations of THC can impair your judgment, so you must decide to use your good judgment in dosing before becoming so intoxicated that you can no longer make rational decisions related to consumption and other important matters. Don’t consume marijuana to the point of becoming irrational. When your mental faculties are impaired, you’re at a greater risk of making bad choices, such as driving under the influence, mixing alcohol with cannabis, and trusting the wrong people. Commit to no impaired driving Don’t drive under the influence of marijuana, regardless of whether you think you’re high. Stay home or plan ahead for transportation, for example, by choosing a designated driver or another means to get around. Driving under the influence of marijuana is both dangerous and illegal.

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How to Grow Cannabis Indoors

Article / Updated 03-31-2022

Growing cannabis isn’t like growing a house plant. For optimal quality and maximum yield, you should set up a grow room, so you have more control over the lighting, ventilation, air circulation, temperature, and humidity. If you’re growing photoperiod plants (which require 12 hours of darkness during the flowering stage), a grow room is essential. Tackle the initial setup The first thing you need is a room — an unused bedroom or closet does the trick. If you don’t have a suitable room, consider putting up a grow tent (or grow box) in an open space in your home, basement, or garage. You can buy a grow tent or build your own. Your grow room or tent must have the following features: Sufficient space for the number of plants and size of plants you want to grow. The space also must be tall enough to accommodate the plant height and hang a grow light far enough above the plant to prevent it from burning the plant. A three-feet square, six-feet tall area is sufficient for growing one or two plants. Light sealed. No outside light should penetrate the walls. If you close yourself into the room during the daytime or when lights are on in surrounding areas, the room should be pitch black inside. (This isn’t as important for auto-flowering strains.) White or reflective interior walls, floor, and ceiling. If the interior isn’t reflecting light, it’s absorbing it, which is a waste of light. You want all light to be reflected back into the room, so that your plants can absorb it. Floor drain or waterproof tray. You need something in place to catch anything that drains off from the plants. Openings for ventilation fans. The room needs at least two openings, typically one near the bottom at one end of the room and another near the top at the opposite end of the room. Outlets for plugging in lights or fans or an opening for power cords and other wiring. Some type of framework near the top for hanging the grow lights and other equipment. Simulate the desired climate When you’re growing outdoors, Mother Nature dictates the climate. When you’re growing indoors, you play that role. Controlling the climate involves regulating the temperature, humidity, and airflow. Ideal conditions vary according to the growth stage: Germination: During germination, seeds need to be kept warm and moist in the dark. You can start seeds in dampened soil plugs in a mini greenhouse (available at most hardware stores). Just make sure the seeds don’t dry out; otherwise, they’ll be ruined. Seedling/vegetative: During the vegetative stage, maintain a temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity between 60 and 70 percent. Proper ventilation is necessary to pull in outside air that helps cool your room and deliver a steady supply of carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 concentration should be between 700 and 900 parts per million (ppm). Proper circulation is also necessary to keep the plants healthy. Flowering: During the flowering stage, maintain a temperature between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity between 50 and 55 percent. Lowering the humidity discourages fungal growth on the buds. The CO2 concentration should be between 1,200 and 1,500 parts per million (ppm). In terms of temperature, remember this rule: No colder than 60, no hotter than 85, and never above 90. Focus on air flow When you grow plants outdoors, air naturally circulates around the plants. When you grow plants indoors, you need to ensure proper ventilation and circulation. Ventilation carries outside air into the room and stale air out of the room, whereas circulation moves air around inside the room. Ventilation and circulation keep plants healthy and support growth in the following ways: Help to regulate heat and humidity: Grow lights kick out a lot of heat, which also increases the humidity in the grow room. An exhaust fan pulls hot and humid air out of the grow room, creating a vacuum that pulls in cooler, drier air (assuming the room has intake holes or vents). Deliver CO2 to plants: Plants breathe in carbon dioxide (CO2) and breathe out oxygen (O2). Without proper ventilation, the CO2 supply in the room is depleted, and the plants “suffocate.” Prevent pests and diseases: Warm, humid, stagnant air provides an ideal environment for mold, mildew, fungi, and certain pests. Pulling in cooler, drier air eliminates this problem, and having a breeze in the room helps to discourage infestations of small flying insects such as gnats. Strengthen plant stalks and stems: Plants sense the breeze in the room and grow hardier as a result, which provides more support for buds during the flower stage. Improper air flow in grow rooms is the number one reason for reduced yields and complete crop failure. Ensure proper ventilation The first order of business is to install one or two fans to ventilate the room — an exhaust fan, an intake fan, or both. With an active system, you have an exhaust fan on one end of the room and an intake fan of the same size on the opposite end. In a passive system, you use only one fan. As the exhaust fan pulls air out of the room or the intake fan pushes air into the room, air flows in or out through one or more holes on the opposite end of the room. In passive systems, the hole (or holes) without the fan must be larger than the hole with the fan. Most grow rooms use in-line duct fans, which are very easy to install. Installation is similar to connecting a flexible duct pipe to a clothes dryer. You can buy 4-, 6-, or 8-inch diameter in-line duct fans depending on the size of the room and the size of any existing holes. Six-inch fans are common. If you have a grow tent, check the size of the exhaust and intake holes and buy fans to match. Also check the cubic feet per minute (CFM) rating of the fan(s) and buy a fan with a CFM rating that’s higher than the volume of the room in cubic feet. The general idea is that you want sufficient ventilation to completely replace the air in the grow room once every minute. Simply measure the room’s length, width, and height in feet and multiply the three numbers. For example, if the room is 3-by-3-by-6 feet, 3 × 3 × 6 = 54 cubic feet, so a fan with a rating of 100 CFM would be sufficient. However, you may need a fan with a higher CFM rating if you’re pumping the air over a long distance or have one or more bends in the duct pipe. Your intake hole should be near the bottom at one end of the room with the exhaust hole at the top of the opposite end of the room. The exhaust hole is higher, because heat naturally rises to the top. Whether you use one or two fans, install a filter on the intake and exhaust ducts. The intake filter keeps out bugs, mold spores, dust, and other contaminants. The exhaust filter is usually a carbon filter that helps to reduce the odors from the cannabis exiting the room. You attach the filters directly to the fans or use a piece of flexible duct pipe between the fan and filter. Use as little duct pipe as necessary and run it as straight as possible. The longer the distance the air has to travel and the more bends in the pipe, the less efficient the air flow. If you must run pipe a long distance or add a bend, consider buying fans with higher CFM ratings. Circulate the air Air circulation is also important. Plants don’t “exhale” with any type of force during respiration. Fans used to circulate the air move the O2 surrounding the plants and replace it with CO2 that the plants can “breathe in.” You need one or more fans inside your grow room to maintain proper circulation. Deciding on the number of fans and positioning them in the room is mostly a process of trial and error. The goal is to have all parts of all plants “dancing” — all the leaves should be shaking gently. If you notice any part of any plant that’s not dancing, you may need to reposition the fan(s) or add a fan. Start with two small fans in opposite corners of the room or one slightly larger oscillating fan in one corner of the room and make adjustments from there. Supply carbon dioxide Plants require CO2 to survive. This is the symbiotic relationship plants have with animals. Animals breath in O2 and exhale CO2; plants “inhale” CO2 and “exhale” O2. If your grow room has adequate air flow, CO2 sublimation isn’t necessary, but it increases overall yields if you’re using higher intensity lighting. Several methods are available for adding CO2 to a grow room. You can buy a tank of CO2 and simply pump it into the room, allow dry ice to melt inside the room, or buy CO2 canisters or bags that release the gas slowly into the room over a period of time. If you’re adding CO2 to your grow room, keep the following important points in mind: Add CO2 only when the lights are on. When the lights are off, plants slow down their use of CO2 considerably, so any CO2 added is CO2 Turn off the intake and exhaust fans for a few minutes when releasing CO2; otherwise, you’re pumping out the gas, and wasting it. Add CO2 from the top of the room and in front of one of your circulating fans. It’s denser than air, so it tends to drop toward the floor. For example, if you’re using a CO2 tank, run a hose to near the top of the grow room and lower it so it’s in front of one of the fans. Maintain a level of 900 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 during the vegetative stage and 1,150 ppm during the flower stage. You’ll need a CO2 meter to monitor CO2 Additional CO2 is necessary with higher light intensity, enabling the plant to take advantage of the added light with greater photosynthesis. Set up grow lights Lighting is a key factor in a successful indoor grow operation. The types of lights, the way you set them up, and other pieces that control and direct them are the keys to your yield and the flavor of your end product. Here, we guide you through the process of choosing and installing your grow lights. Calculate your lighting needs Before you head out to your local nursery or hardware store to shop for grow lights figure out how much light you need. In general, a standard 1,000 watt grow light will cover four plants that have a fully grown diameter of about 3 feet, depending on strain. If you set up your grow lights and plants and notice that some parts of one or more plants aren’t receiving light, you’ll need to add one or more lights. Choose light fixtures and bulbs Most standard household light fixtures and bulbs are insufficient for growing cannabis. They don’t provide the intensity and quality of light the plants need for optimal growth. The exception is fluorescent lights (typically T5s) or compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), which are okay, but result in smaller, lower-quality buds. We don’t recommend fluorescent lighting. After ruling out fluorescent lighting, your choice of grow lights depends on your goal and the stage of growth: If your goal is high yields, choose a high intensity discharge (HID) bulb — metal-halide (MH) for the vegetative stage and high-pressure sodium (HPS) during the flower stage. These bulbs emit a lot of light and a lot of heat, so you need to position them at a greater distance from the plants. If you’re looking for better terpene yields for extraction, use light-emitting diode (LED) or ceramic metal halide (CMH) bulbs, because these preserve the terpenes without bulking up the flower weight and density the way high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting does. Your choice of light fixture depends on the bulbs you want to use. After choosing a bulb type, shop for grow light system that includes all the lighting components you need, including the bulbs. Components/features of a grow room lighting system include the following: Fixture with reflector hood: The fixture holds the bulbs, and the reflector hood directs the light down to the plants. Reflector hoods come in different types: Closed hood: Shaped like a box, a closed hood reflector creates a more focused beam of light (and heat). Vented hood: Similar to a closed hood reflector but with openings on the ends for connecting the hood to in-line duct fans for cooling. Wing: Typically a curved and textured aluminum sheet that provides a less focused beam of light than a closed hood reflector. The light covers a greater area but is less intense (so is the heat). Parabolic: Shaped like an umbrella, a parabolic hood distributes light like a wing but in a more circular pattern. Your choice of hoods is a personal preference. Go with a closed hood if you’re concerned about heat or with an wing or parabolic if you’re not. Ballast: The ballast provides control over the current that the lightbulb draws from the power source. The following two types of ballasts are most common: Magnetic: Less expensive, heavy, hot, potentially noisy, susceptible to flicker, and supports only bulbs of a certain wattage. If you want to change from a 400W bulb to a 600W bulb, for example, you need to replace the ballast. Digital: More expensive, smaller, lighter, cooler, quieter, less susceptible to flicker, more efficient, may be equipped with a dimmable option, may cause radio frequency interference. Hooks and pulleys: Grow light systems often include hooks and pulleys for hanging the light fixtures in your grow room. Pulleys enable you to more easily raise and lower the light fixtures to place them at the right distance from the tops of the plants. Timer: Grow light systems typically come with a timer, or you can purchase a timer separately, which automates the process of cycling the lights on and off on schedule. Mount your light fixtures Mount the light fixtures to the ceiling of the grow room above the plants, positioning the fixtures to ensure equal distribution of light over the entire canopy. How you mount the light fixtures depends on the fixture and how your grow room ceiling is configured. Using hooks, ropes, or chains and possibly pulleys, you can hang your fixtures in a way that you can easily raise and lower them to the proper distance from the tops of your plants. Position the lights above the plants, so all parts of all plants are receiving light. The light should be as close to the top of the tallest plant as possible without burning it. Keep a close eye on the plants whenever adjusting the lights, and if the top of any plant is getting burned, raise the light. Don’t place anything flammable close enough to the light that there’s any possibility the light will ignite it. Set and reset timers During the vegetative stage, plants require 18 to 24 hours of light. During the bloom/flower stage, they need 10 to 12 hours of light and at least 12 hours of total darkness (for photoperiod strains); auto-flowering strains will flower without 12 hours of darkness. Putting your grow lights on timers greatly simplifies the process of managing the required light/dark cycles, but you still need to manage the changes in lighting over the growth cycle. If you plan to have a continuous garden with some plants in veg and some in bloom, set up your lighting differently in those two areas. For photoperiod strains, use a separate grow tent or grow room for plants that are in the vegetative stage and those that are in the flower stage. To monitor your plants through the growth cycle and adjust the lighting, take the following steps: Position the lights at the proper distance above the canopy for the vegetative stage. Adjust your light timer(s) to provide 18 to 24 hours of light. Experiment with different settings in that range over several grows to find the optimum amount of light for each strain you grow. Keep an eye on your plants, adjusting the lighting as necessary to keep the lights the proper distance from the tops of the plants as they grow taller. When your plants are about half the size of full-grown plants, they’re ready to switch from the vegetative to the flower stage. (At this point, you either adjust the lighting, as explained in the remaining steps or move the plants to the flower tent or room.) The size of a full-grown plant is strain dependent and impacted by light, container size, and other environmental influencers such as CO2. You may have to go through several rounds of growing a particular strain to develop a clear idea what the size of a full-grown plant is and when the plant is ready to switch from the vegetative to the flower stage. If you were using MH bulbs during the vegetative stage, change to HPS bulbs for the flower stage. You don’t need to change out fluorescent, CFL, or LED bulbs. When changing to the brighter HPS bulbs, shade the plants for a couple days to prevent them from getting blasted by the more intense light. You can place a piece of cardboard between the light and the plants to serve this purpose, but make sure it’s as far as possible from the light to prevent a fire. Adjust the height of your lights to position them the proper distance from the tops of the plants for the flower stage. Adjust the timers, so that the plants receive at least 12 hours of total darkness and 10–12 hours of light. Auto-flowering strains don’t need 12 hours of darkness; experiment with the lighting between grows to determine what’s best. Continue to monitor your plants during the flower stage, adjusting the height of the lights as needed to keep them the proper distance from the tops of the plants as the plants grow taller. When the stigma (the hair-like strands that cover the bud) on half the buds turn orange and red, your plant is ready for harvest. Measure the light Light intensity has a big impact on yield. All parts of all plants should have exposure to the light, and the lights should be as close to the plants as possible without burning them. If the top of any plants are wilting or burnt from the light, raise the lights. For more sophisticated grows, obtain a photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) meter and take measurements at several different locations above the canopy to measure the PAR output of the lights. The PAR measure should never rise above 1,200 PAR. Decide on a watering/fertilizing system Whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors, you need to decide on a system for watering and fertilizing your plants. You basically have two options: manual and automatic. During your first grows, we recommend the manual method as you develop a sense of how much water and fertilizer your plants generally need. After developing an understanding of your plants’ water and nutrient needs (which may vary depending on the strain), consider installing an automated irrigation system. These systems are equipped with timers that water and feed plants automatically on a pre-set schedule. They provide the same benefits of lighting systems — the convenience and reliability of automation. However, you still need to monitor your plants to be sure they’re getting enough and not too much water and nutrients. Use a hydroponics system In all hydroponics systems, plants are placed in trays or containers that contain a grow medium other than soil, such as pea gravel, expanded clay aggregate, coco coir, or vermiculite. Various systems are then used to deliver water and nutrients to the roots (see Figure 11-1 for illustrations of these systems): Aeroponic: Plants sit in a tray above a water/nutrient reservoir with their roots dangling down. Solution from the reservoir is sprayed up onto the roots at regular intervals, and excess solution drips down into the reservoir. Drip: Nutrient-rich water is dripped slowly at regular intervals into the grow medium where the roots can absorb it. Unused water drains back to the reservoir to be reused or to a waste reservoir and then discarded. Deep water culture (DWC): Plants sit in baskets above an aerated (and typically chilled) water/nutrient reservoir with their roots submerged in the solution, which allows for continuous feeding. Ebb and flow: Plants sit in pots in a grow tray. Nutrient-rich water is pumped into the grow tray at regular intervals and flows into holes at the bottom and sides of the pots. The pumping stops and water is allowed to drain back into the reservoir from which it was pumped. Nutrient film technique (NFT): NFT is like a cross between DWC and ebb and flow. Plants sit in baskets above a grow tray. Nutrient-rich water is continuously pumped from a reservoir into the grow tray and then drains from the opposite end of the grow tray back into the reservoir. This arrangement delivers a continuous flow of nutrient-rich water to the roots. Wick: A plant sits in a container above an aerated, nutrient-rich water reservoir, and a rope or other absorbent material (such as felt) is placed through the middle of the growth medium and into the reservoir. Through capillary action, the solution from the reservoir “climbs” the rope, providing the plant with as much or as little water and nutrients as it demands. Here are a few suggestions for increasing your odds of a successful hydroponics grow: Disinfect all your hydroponics equipment with isopropyl alcohol or bleach between grows to kill off any bacteria or other infectious agents. Anaerobic bacteria can build up in dirty systems and kill your plants from the roots up. Use clean, pH neutral water. Water from a reverse osmosis (RO) system or distilled water is suitable. Aerate the nutrient-rich water solution. You can place an aeration stone in the bottom of the reservoir attached to a small air pump like those carried by local pet stores. Without aeration, your plants may not receive the oxygen they need. Replace the water/nutrient solution every couple weeks. Don’t merely add nutrients, because nutrient concentrations may become too high as a result. (Remember to use a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen concentration during the vegetative stage and higher potassium and phosphorous during the flower stage.) After dumping the old nutrient solution, run a dilute water and hydrogen peroxide solution through the system to clear out any infectious agents and then rinse with plain water. Consider flushing the grow medium with plain water whenever you change the nutrient solution. When choosing and setting up a hydroponics system, research to find out the type of system that’s best for your grow space and skill level. Simpler is usually better. Use high quality food grade plastics in your system and make sure it’s leak free before starting your grow. Keep your grow room impeccably clean At the risk of sounding like your mother, we encourage you to keep your grow room clean. A dirty grow room provides the ideal environment for bacteria, fungi, and pests. Here are a few guidelines for keeping your grow room clean: After each use, wash and disinfect plant containers, grow trays, irrigation hoses, and pumps. Use soap and water followed by isopropyl alcohol or a bleach solution (one part bleach to three parts water). Then, carefully rinse everything with plain water. Keep your grow room free of any dead plant mater and debris. This is where many pests and pathogens can get a foothold in a garden of healthy plants. Watch for common pests such as aphids, fungus gnats, spider mites, and thrips. If you see even one of these nasty critters, identify it and find an effective pesticide. This is where your friendly garden store or grow store staff comes in handy.

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How Much Medical Cannabis Do You Need?

Article / Updated 03-30-2022

If you’re a cannabis novice, you’re probably wondering, “How much should I take?” The answer to that question is simple: Take as little as possible to produce the desired effect and avoid potential adverse side effects. Unfortunately, that answer provides little to no practical guidance for new cannabis users. The truth is that we can’t provide specific guidelines because the variables are so numerous. Products differ. Consumers differ. Situations differ. What’s too much for one consumer is not enough for another. Some people achieve the experience they want with microdosing — taking a small dose (1–5 mg daily) of a non- or slightly intoxicating cannabis product to enhance overall health and productivity without getting high. Others achieve optimal results with megadoses of up to 2,000 mg daily without experiencing adverse side effects. More isn’t necessarily better, although it can be. Increasing the dose up to a certain point initially produces stronger effects, but beyond that point, the desired effects may become weaker with an increase in adverse side effects. However, increasing the dose beyond the point at which it produces the desired effects may, in some cases, produce additional desirable effects. The best approach is to follow the age-old wisdom of starting low and going slow and experimenting with products that have different concentrations and ratios of cannabinoids and different terpenes until you find your sweet spot. Following is some additional guidance by helping you define the experience you desire and evaluate some of the key factors that typically impact the experience. Our hope is that by following our guidance, you can find your sweet spot faster and reduce the amount of trial and error — although trial and error can make the experience more enjoyable as well. Define your desired cannabis experience People consume cannabis for different reasons. Some take it for pain relief or seizure prevention. Others take it at parties to relax and remove some of their inhibitions. Some take it to boost their productivity or enhance their athletic performance. And many certainly take it to feel the buzz. To determine the optimal dose of cannabis for you, first define your desired experience. The experience you want can certainly change over time, and it may change based on the situation. For example, after a long, hectic day at work, you may want to use cannabis to relax, whereas pain relief may be your goal if you’ve suffered a physical injury. After identifying your desired experience, you’ll find it easier to match the product, amount, and delivery method to best hit that target. If the desired effect is an uplifting experience in a social setting with friends, smoking flower may be the best choice. If relaxation at the end of a busy day is the outcome, similar to a glass of wine with dinner, perhaps a soothing cannabis tea or bath would be best to deliver the desired result. Consider the chemical composition of products Whether you’re smoking flower/bud, vaping oil, consuming edibles or tinctures, or using a cannabis lotion, consider the chemical composition of the products. Different blends of cannabinoids, terpenes, herbs, and other ingredients produce very different effects that can vary among individuals. Know your strains Numerous strains (breeds) of cannabis plants exist, but they all originate from two primary strains: indica (sometimes referred to as “in da couch” for its sedative properties) and sativa (a more stimulating strain). The table compares the general effects from these two major strains. Indica and Sativa Compared Strain Qualities Indica Nighttime use Metal relaxation (sedative) Muscle relaxation Decreased nausea Pain relief Appetite stimulation Sativa Daytime use Stimulant (improved focus and creativity) Anti-anxiety Anti-depressant Chronic-pain relief Indica and sativa are only two of many strains. These two primary strains have been cross bred to create numerous hybrids with colorful names, such as Blue Dream, Pineapple Express, AK-47, Chernobyl, and Tangerine Dream. To add to the variety, these strains come in numerous phenotypes — variations resulting from the interaction of the plant’s genotype (nature) and environment (nurture). To find out more about the various strains and phenotypes and their effects, check out the Cannabis Strain Explorer at Leafly. For a specific recommendation, describe the effect you desire to your budtender, who can suggest various strains that are likely to do the trick. Evaluating products by strain is only one way, and not necessarily the best way, to determine whether a product will deliver the desired effects. You may find that cannabinoid concentrations and ratios and terpene profiles provide a better indication of the effect a product is likely to have. However, strains provide a quick and easy way to reference and talk about different products, especially if you’ve discovered certain strains you really like. Check out cannabinoid ratios and amounts Cannabinoids are the primary active ingredients in all cannabis products, so the ratios and quantities of the different cannabinoids provide a fairly accurate indication of what you can expect from any given product. Although cannabis contains about 100 cannabinoids (by some estimates), only two (THC and CBD) are responsible for delivering a majority of the benefits (and any adverse effects) and only two others are notable at this time: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): THC takes most of the credit for producing the euphoric high associated with cannabis. It’s strongly psychoactive, meaning it changes brain function, which can result in alterations in mood, memory, perception, thinking, and behavior. Cannabidiol (CBD): CBD can help alleviate symptoms of certain medical conditions, such as pain, inflammation, and anxiety, without the intoxicating effects associated with THC. In fact, CBD tends to modulate the psychoactive effects of THC. Cannabinol (CBN): When THC oxidizes, it converts to CBN, which decreases the concentration of THC. CBN is a fairly strong sedative that provides other potential benefits. It can be helpful as a sleep aid, pain reliever, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsive, and appetite stimulant and has been shown to promote bone growth. Cannabigerol (CBG): CBG is a precursor (building block) of THC and CBD. Like CBD, it’s not intoxicating, and it may help with a host of medical conditions, including glaucoma, inflammatory bowel disease, Huntington’s disease, cancer, bacterial infections, cachexia (muscle wasting), and bladder dysfunction. When shopping for cannabis products, examine the amount of each cannabinoid in the product and their ratios. The CBD-to-THC ratio is particularly important and should be included on the packaging of any cannabis product. Ratios can be broken down into the following three categories: THC dominant: High THC and low to no CBD produces the intoxicating, euphoric high associated with cannabis. However, higher ratios of THC have a greater potential to produce the adverse side effects. Balanced: Balanced blends of CBD and THC are psychoactive, but less so than THC-dominant products. The CBD tends to lessen the intoxicating effect of the THC, and the two cannabinoids may work synergistically to enhance the overall experience. CBD dominant: High CBD and low to no THC products are primarily for those who seek the medicinal benefits of CBD without the intoxicating effects of THC. However, even if you’re consuming cannabis purely for medicinal purposes, a little THC added to the CBD can improve its effectiveness. Ratios tell you nothing about the amount of each cannabinoid in a product. Also check the amount per serving if you’re purchasing adult recreational products and the total amount of each cannabinoid (typically in milligrams) in the entire package. When dosing, pay particular attention to the amount of THC, because consuming too much may increase the risk of adverse effects. High doses of CBD are unlikely to produce any serious adverse effects. Take a spin on the terpene wheel Terpenes are the volatile aromatic compounds that give different strains and even individual plants their unique aromas. (Terpenes are part of products and natural substances not exclusive to cannabis.) Combining different terpenes with different cannabinoids produces what’s referred to as an entourage effect — the synergy of all ingredients in a cannabis product that produce the unique experience associated with that product. Think of the combination in terms of wine: CBD and THC content is like a wine’s alcohol content, but each wine has its own aroma, flavor, acidity, and texture, which are comparable to the characteristics of terpenes. This table lists and describes the eight most prevalent terpenes in cannabis. Common Terpenes Terpene Aroma Found in Benefits Caryophyllene (CYE) Pepper, spicy, woody, cloves Black pepper, cinnamon, cloves Anti-inflammatory Pain reliever Protects cells lining the digestive tract Humulene (HUM) Earthy, woody Basil, cloves, coriander, hops Appetite suppressant Limonene (LME) Lemon Citrus fruits Mood elevation Stress relief Reduces acid reflux Anti-anxiety Linalool (LNL) Floral Lavender Calming Sedating Anesthetic Anti-convulsant Pain reliever Anti-anxiety Myrcene (MYR) Earthy, herbal, cloves Mango, lemongrass, thyme, hops Calming Sedating Enhances THC’s psychoactivity Muscle relaxant Ocimene (OCM) Sweet, herbal, woody Basil, pepper, parsley, mint, mangoes, orchids Antiviral Antifungal Antiseptic Decongestant Antibacterial Terpinolene (TPE) Floral, herbal, pine Lilac, lime blossoms Calming Sedating α-Pinene (PNE) Pine Pine needs, rosemary, basil, parsley, dill Mental alertness Memory retention Anti-inflammatory Anti-bacterial Terpene characteristics and benefits are often presented in the form of a terpene wheel. You can find numerous terpene wheels online by searching for “terpene wheel.” Sample other ingredients Cannabis is commonly combined with other ingredients to intensify the effects of the cannabis or of the other ingredients and enhance the consumer experience. Other ingredients commonly added to cannabis products include tobacco, coffee, tea, chocolate, alcohol, herbs, and spices. Compare methods of cannabis consumption How you consume cannabis can have a tremendous impact on the way it affects you, including the speed and intensity of your response and the overall sensation. The following table lists your options and presents pros and cons of each to provide you with a quick reference guide for choosing a method that’s most conducive to the desired effect in any given situation. Comparing Consumption Methods Consumption Method Pros Cons Smoking Fastest acting Intense sensation Lots of variety Great for social situations Irritates the lungs Smell lingers Not discreet Somewhat complicated Vaping Discreet Portable Easier on the lungs than smoking Smoother hits Easy to use Fast acting May be more expensive than smoking Less variety (than smoking) Less intense onset Edibles Discreet Long-lasting Easy to use Strong effect on both mind and body Slow acting Highest calorie option Difficulty taking enough without taking too much Topicals Discreet Localized Non-intoxicating Non-intoxicating Transdermal patches Discreet Localized and full body Timed release Expensive Weak or non-intoxicating Tinctures and pills Discreet Easy dosing Faster acting than edibles Easy to use Slower acting than smoking or vaping Some people have a favorite consumption method they rely on exclusively. Others like to switch it up or use different methods for different purposes or in different situations; for example, smoking socially and vaping when alone. Account for other medications or substances used While some medication may have little to no known interaction with marijuana, others are well known to intensify its effects, and many can have unintended consequences based on the type of cannabis and an individual’s health. For example, some strains or blends can increase a person’s blood pressure raising the risk of heart attack or stroke in vulnerable individuals. Don’t mix marijuana with alcohol or other psychoactive substances. If you have a history or family history of any medical conditions or you take any medications (prescription or over-the-counter) or supplements, consult your physician before using cannabis. Examine your body’s biochemistry Two people who consume the same cannabis at the same dose in the same way at the same place and time can have a vastly different experience. These differences can be attributed primarily to variations in their biology and chemical makeup (and perhaps in their emotional state or mind-set, as well). Factors that may impact your biochemistry and thereby influence the experience you have include the following: Age: Many users report that their experience with cannabis has changed over time; for example, cannabis that once helped them relax now makes them feel anxious, or cannabis that once made them paranoid now makes them feel more creative. Gender: Cannabis appears to affect men and women differently, although the research in this area is limited. For example, in small doses, cannabis seems to increase sexual desire in women, whereas in men, smoking or vaping cannabis reduces sexual desire and sperm production. Recent meals: Whether you’ve eaten anything before consuming cannabis and what you’ve eaten can impact its effects, especially with edibles. Consuming cannabis on an empty stomach increases the rate at which it is absorbed, thus increasing the potential risk of anxiety and paranoia. Certain foods may intensify the effects, whereas others modulate the effects; for example, mangoes are thought to intensify the high, whereas lemon is thought to lessen it. Body composition: Your height and weight, or more accurately your ratio of muscle mass to fat-soluble tissue may impact the onset time and the intensity and duration of the effects. THC binds to fat, which is why meals can impact the effects of cannabis. Your body’s makeup may also have an impact. It may also be involved in determining how long THC may be identified in your body through testing. Altitude: The effects of high altitude together with the effects of the cannabis itself can make you feel higher, so if you’re consuming at a high-altitude location, particularly a location you’re unaccustomed to, start lower and go slower to find your sweet spot. This is a recognizable effect with alcohol, as well. Genetic disposition: Genes (heredity) play a major role in how any given individual responds to cannabis. Just as amphetamines (stimulants) tend to calm people who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a cannabis strain that makes one person anxious may have a calming effect on another. Consumption frequency (tolerance): Regular heavy cannabis users build up a tolerance for it. Over time, you may find that you need higher doses to experience the same effects. Susceptibility to certain mental health conditions: Certain people are more susceptible to certain mental health conditions (such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis) than others, so they may be more prone to experiencing adverse effects, especially at high doses. Consider your environment and mood Just as a restaurant’s ambience, the people you’re dining with, and the person who’s serving you all impact your enjoyment of your meal at a restaurant, the environment, the people you’re with, and your own mood or mindset influence your overall cannabis experience. Of course, if the cannabis doesn’t suit your tastes, you’re not going to have the greatest experience, but assuming it’s the right product, and you’re in an enjoyable setting with great people and are in a good place yourself, you can expect to have a delightful experience. On the other hand, if you’re in an uncomfortable situation with unfamiliar people and are feeling uptight, you may have a terrible experience, even if you’re consuming the right product. Start lower and go slower in unfamiliar situations with unfamiliar people or when trying any cannabis products you haven’t used in the past. Also, if you know you’re going to be consuming in an unfamiliar setting or with strangers, avoid trying any new products. If possible, bring your own product — one you’ve used in familiar and comfortable surroundings — so you’re better able to anticipate your response to it.

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Cannabis For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-30-2022

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.

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How to Grow Marijuana from Seed

Article / Updated 11-04-2021

If you're contemplating growing marijuana, you might be wondering where to start. You can grow plants from seeds or create a clone of a plant from a cutting. To decide, consider the pros and cons of seeds versus cuttings: Growing from a cutting of an existing plant essentially clones the plant, so you know what you’re getting. If you clone a female plant, you get a female plant. Although technically you can clone an auto-flowering strain, it’s usually not worth the trouble because the clone doesn’t produce nearly the same yield. If you want to grow auto-flowering strains, buy seeds. Unless you buy feminized seeds, which have a very high likelihood of growing into feminine plants, you can’t tell just by looking at a seed whether it’s a seed for a male or female plant. You have to plant a bunch of seeds, wait until you can determine whether the plant is male or female, and then dispose of the male plants. You also can’t tell the strain of a plant by looking at a seed, so unless you know which strain of plant the seed came from, you have no idea what strain the seed will produce. Plants from seeds generally are more vigorous. In fact, sometimes growers grow cuttings and allow them to go to seed to revitalize the plant’s genetics. If you’re in a location where cannabis (another term for marijuana; short for the plant cannabis sativa) is illegal, growing it is probably illegal too. Bringing in seeds or cuttings to your location can very well be a felony, and reputable sellers won’t ship to you. You can probably purchase and grow hemp seeds and plants, which have a negligible amount of THC, but these plants won’t produce the psychoactive effects of plants that contain higher levels of THC. Check with your seller to be certain you’re getting what you think you’re purchasing. If you buy seeds for CBD-only hemp plants by mistake, you can end up being very disappointed post-harvest. How to acquire seeds or cuttings You can usually find cannabis seeds for sale at most dispensaries in areas where growing cannabis for personal use is legal. You may also find growers who sell cuttings/clones. You can expect to pay $50 to $100 for a pack of ten seeds. When shopping for seeds or cuttings, read the labels and any other information the manufacturer provides on its website or in its catalog to make sure you’re getting the right seeds or cuttings (the strain) for the plants you want to grow. One way to get your mitts on some seeds is to collect seeds when you find them in flowers you purchased, or get some from friends if they’re collecting. When buying seeds or cuttings, here are some key characteristics to consider: Feminized seeds: Nearly all seeds sold by reputable companies are feminized, but make sure they are. These seeds are specially treated to grow into female plants. Auto-flowering or photoperiod: Auto-flowering plants are easier, because they enter the flower stage after a certain number of weeks regardless of the light/dark cycle. If you’re a beginner, seriously consider going with auto-flowering plants. Genetic background: If seeds are from a well-established strain, such as O.G. Kush, Bubble Gum, or a cross-breed, the genetic background should be stated. Blend: The blend represents the percentage of the three species — sativa, indica, and ruderalis. All auto-flower strains contain some percentage of ruderalis, which is responsible for the auto-flowering nature of the plant. Yield indoors: The number of grams of bud per square meter of plant when grown indoors. Yield outdoors: The number of grams of bud per plant (after drying) when grown outdoors. Plant height indoors: Shorter than when grown outdoors. Plant height outdoors: Taller than when grown indoors. Time to harvest: Approximate number of weeks after germination the flower should be ready to harvest. Potency: Percentages of CBD and THC. Effect: The type of experience you can expect when consuming product from the plant. Know the laws about buying cannabis Before buying cannabis seeds or cuttings, research the country, state, province, and local laws regarding buying, selling, possessing, and transporting seeds or cuttings across borders. Rules and regulations vary considerably: In some European countries, laws prohibit growing cannabis, but seed is legal, which is quite confusing. You’re allowed to buy and eat cannabis seeds because they’re non-psychotropic, but you can’t buy them to grow cannabis. Other countries in Europe, such as Germany, have their own seed laws. In Canada, where cannabis is federally legal, seeds can be shipped across provincial lines. In the U.S., in some states in which cannabis is legal, you can purchase seeds from some dispensaries or other locations to grow plants as long as you keep them in the state. Other states may bar selling to non-licensed growers. Shipping or transporting seeds across state or international borders is illegal, although a few reputable online seed stores ship to individuals with success. If you choose to buy seeds online and have them shipped to you, research the store carefully and check reviews to make certain it has a solid track record. Cuttings are typically treated in a similar manner as seeds in legalized locations. They may be available from some dispensaries or outlets for pick up or delivery with a fee. They’re prohibited from crossing U.S. state lines or international borders. You can buy individual plants and mix and match strains. Prices vary and are often determined by plant size. Buy cuttings (clones) only from a reputable source who understands proper back-crossing of strains for stability. Back-crossing involves pollinating a plant with one of its parent plants to promote sexual stability, so that when you have a female it won’t hermaphrodite into a male during flowering. Both seeds and clones are often able to be purchased from commercial locations already in your state. In the U.S., transporting any part of the cannabis plant over state lines is illegal. This applies to seeds and clones and, technically, even to tissue samples. How to germinate cannabis seeds Germinating seeds requires a dark environment that is around 70 degrees. There are many ways to germinate seeds (in soil, in a wet paper towel, in starter plugs) You can also sow them directly into soil in a garden or container, as long as the soil is light and fluffy, so the roots can easily grow down and the stalk can break through the soil. Plant the seeds about 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep and cover them loosely with soil. Most importantly, seeds need a moist environment; they won’t germinate if they get too dry. You can use a heat mat to increase the success of germination in colder climates. How to transplant marijuana plants When transplanting any plant, whether it started from seed or a clone, handle it gently, being very careful not to damage the roots. Center the plant in the pot, and plant it deep enough to cover the root ball completely in soil. If the plant is root bound, you can gently tease the roots apart to encourage outward growth. Pack your soil or other grow medium down around the roots well enough to support the plant while new roots grow, but not so tight that the soil restricts outward root growth. Water the soil around the roots.

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Recipes for Infusions and Extracts from Medical Cannabis

Article / Updated 01-16-2020

Rarely does a cannabis recipe include raw or dried cannabis bud, although it certainly may. In most cases, ingredients call for an extract such as cannabis-infused butter, oil, sugar, or syrup. You can purchase these ingredients at most dispensaries, but if you want to cook up your own infusions/extracts from scratch, you’ve come to the right place. How to calculate infusion doses Creating infusions that contain a specific amount of THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids is challenging and may be nearly impossible to do if you’ve grown your own cannabis, because potency varies based on the plant strain, how it’s grown, dried, and cured, and other variables. However, if you start with flower from a reputable dispensary, it should be labeled with the weight of the product (in grams) and the concentration of each cannabinoid (as a percentage). Using those two numbers, you can make your own cannabis-infused butter (such as Buddha Budda) and have a pretty clear idea of how much of each cannabinoid is in the entire batch. You just have to do the math: Multiply the number of grams of flower by 1,000 to determine the number of milligrams. 1 gram of flower is 1,000 milligrams; 2 grams of flower is 2,000 milligrams, and so on. Multiply the number of milligrams of flower by the percentage of a specific cannabinoid in the flower. For example, if you have 2,000 milligrams of flower with 15 percent THC, you have 2,000 mg ×15 = 300 mg THC. After doing the math, you know that if you use 2 grams of that flower and one stick of butter to make your Buddha Budda, you’re going to have about 300 mg THC in the resulting stick of butter. More basic math is required to determine the total amount of a cannabinoid in an entire batch of a recipe: Divide the quantity of infused product called for in the recipe by the total quantity of infused product you made to find the percentage of infused product you used. For example, if a recipe calls for 4 tablespoons (Tbsp) of infused butter, and you made one stick of infused butter, 4 Tbsp / 8 Tbsp (the number of tablespoons in an entire stick) = 1/2 or 50 percent. Multiply the result from Step 1 by the total amount of cannabinoid in the entire stick to find out the total amount of cannabinoid in the recipe. For example, if the stick of cannabis-infused butter contains 300 mg THC, then half the stick contains 150 mg. Now you’re ready to determine the amount of cannabinoid per serving. Simply divide the amount of cannabinoid in the entire batch by the number of servings the recipe produces. So, if a batch of cookies contains 150 mg THC and makes 12 cookies, 150 mg THC / 12 cookies = 12.5 mg THC per cookie. If you don’t have specifics regarding the amount of THC in the flower you have, look up the strain online and see if you can find any information about it. Seed catalogues list the percentage of various cannabinoids in each strain, which can provide you with a ballpark figure. Not knowing other variables, the number may not be very helpful, though. Following are recipes for infused butter, sugar, and lavender syrup. Buddha Budda Source: Sweet Mary Jane: 75 Delicious Cannabis-Infused High-End Desserts, a 2015 Random House title (978-1583335659) Buddha Budda is cannabis-infused butter. You can spread it on toast or muffins, melt it on waffles or pancakes, or use it to substitute for butter in any of your favorite recipes. © By Moha El-Jaw/Shutterstock.com When you’re creating your own extracts or concentrates, the potency of the finished product varies depending on the amount of flower you use and its potency. Some plant strains have higher concentrations of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids than other plants do. This recipe includes three different versions, so you can gauge the potency to match your own needs and desires. Yield: 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp or 1 stick) of Buddha Budda. THC concentration: Varies based on strain, amount, and potency of flower Ingredients 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp or 1 stick) unsalted butter 1.5–6 grams cannabis buds, ground or finely crushed Level 1 1.5 grams cannabis buds, ground or finely crushed Yield: about 150 mg THC total 1 Tbsp = about 18.75 mg THC 12 edibles: about 12.5 mg THC each 18 edibles: about 8.3 mg THC each Level 2 3 grams cannabis buds, ground or finely crushed Yield: about 300 mg THC total 1 Tbsp = about 37.5 mg THC 12 edibles: about 25 mg THC each 18 edibles: about 16.6 mg THC each Level 3 6 grams cannabis buds, ground or finely crushed Yield: about 600 mg THC total 1 Tbsp = about 75 mg THC 12 edibles: about 50 mg THC total 18 edibles: about 33.3 mg THC total Infusion equipment Digital temperature gun (It’s the only way to test the temperature of the weed.) Decent digital scale that weighs both grams and oz Paint-straining bags or cheesecloth Large bowl Strainer Rubber gloves Directions Decarboxylate the cannabis: Preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the cannabis in a small, heat proof baking dish and place in the oven. After 15–20 minutes, check the temperature of the cannabis with your digital temperature gun; once it has reached 250°F, let it bake for 30 minutes, checking the temperature frequently. (In addition to decarboxylating, you’re removing any moisture left in the plant material.) If it goes over the correct temperature for too long, it will burn, the THC may convert into CBN, and you will lose potency. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. If not using immediately, store the cannabis in an airtight container in a dark place for up to two months. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the decarbed weed and bring the temperature of the butter up to 190°F. Cook for 30 minutes, using the digital temperature gun to check the temperature of the butter frequently and make sure it does not go over 200°F. DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED! (If by chance it does go over 200°F for a few minutes, don’t worry, it isn’t ruined. The THC is still in there. But excessive heating causes degradation of THC and may convert it to CBN, one of the cannabinoids responsible for the sedative effects of cannabis, or result in vaporization of the compounds. Inadequate heating isn’t good either, as it causes the majority of the cannabinoids to remain in their acid form and thus unactivated. The density of the product, and the time and temperature of the oven, can also prevent some conversion, which results in unactivated cannabinoids. Adding the decarbed cannabis to the butter or coconut oil and heating it again ensures a better conversation.) Mostly, you want to keep everything at a simmer, not a boil. Just turn down the heat and watch it. Take the saucepan off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. It’s now time to press. Place a strainer over a large bowl. Place a paint strainer or cheesecloth into the strainer, folding down the sides over the outside. Spoon the infused butter into it. Using a large spoon or potato masher, press as much as you can through the cloth. Then, using your hands (rubber gloves help here!), squeeze the bag. Press out as much of the precious liquid as you can. Measure the amount of liquid (infused butter) remaining. Expect a 25 percent loss; this is not a loss of THC, only of butter. Make up the difference with regular melted butter. Buddha Budda can be stored in an airtight container for up to 8 weeks in the refrigerator. It also freezes well, so make more if you have the bud and freeze the extra batch in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Hey Sugar! Source: Sweet Mary Jane: 75 Delicious Cannabis-Infused High-End Desserts, a 2015 Random House title (978-1583335659) At Sweet Mary Jane, for the first few years we infused all our baked goods with Buddha Budda or Coconut Bliss. But, eventually, I wanted to try another technique. After some experimenting, I came up with the Idea of infusing sugar. It turned out to be a genuine innovation. The beauty of infused sugar is that there is much less cannabis flavor and color in the finished product. Many of the confections we sell use Hey Sugar!. We also sell packages of it for people to use to sweeten their coffee or tea, or to bake with at home. Use the highest-proof alcohol you can find. If you have access to Everclear, use that. Otherwise, Bacardi 151 rum will do the trick (if not quite as well). Hey Sugar! can be dropped into any hot drink. If you want to add it to a cold drink, heat a small portion of liquid, add the Hey Sugar!, stir to dissolve, and then add it to your drink. It can also be substituted for sugar in any of your favorite recipes. As you will see in the following recipes, the amount of bud used determines the level of THC in the finished desserts, with three levels of dosing. Yield for each of the following recipes is 1/4 cup of Hey Sugar! Ingredients 1.5–6 grams cannabis bud, ground or finely crushed (amount varies depending on potency desired, see below) 1/4 cup granulated sugar high-proof alcohol (Everclear works best, but not every state sells it; if you can’t purchase it, use Bacardi 151 rum) Level 1 1.5 grams cannabis bud, ground or finely crushed Yield: about 150 mg THC total 1 tsp = about 12.5 mg THC Level 2 3 grams cannabis buds, ground or finely crushed Yield: about 300 mg THC total 1 tsp = about 25 mg THC Level 3 6 grams cannabis buds, ground or finely crushed Yield: about 600 mg THC total 1 Tsp = about 50 mg THC Infusion equipment Digital temperature gun (It’s the only way to test the temperature of the weed.) Decent digital scale that weighs both grams and oz 2 mason jars Funnel Coffee filter Small heat-proof baking dish Heat-proof glass pie dish Directions Decarboxylate the cannabis: Preheat the oven to 250°F. Put the cannabis in a small, heat-proof baking dish and place in the oven. After 15–20 minutes, check the temperature of the cannabis with your digital temperature gun; once it has reached 250°F, let it bake for 30 minutes, checking the temperature frequently. (In addition to decarboxylating, you’re removing any moisture left in the plant material.) If it goes over the correct temperature for too long, it will burn, the THC may convert into CBN, and you will lose potency. If not using immediately, store the cannabis in an airtight container in a dark place for up to two months. Remove the baking dish from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 200°F. Transfer the cannabis to a mason jar. Pour in just enough alcohol to cover it, and seal the jar. Shake the jar every 3–5 minutes for 20 minutes, then open the lid. Line a strainer with a coffee filter and place it over a bowl. Pour the alcohol solution through the coffee filter to strain off the plant matter. Gently press with the back of a spoon or your fingertips, being careful not to break the filter. Place the sugar in a heat-proof glass pie dish. Add the strained alcohol solution to the sugar and bake for 30 to 60 minutes, stirring well every 10 minutes, until all the liquid has evaporated and the sugar is evenly colored. (The color can range from light to dark amber.) Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. There is no need to refrigerate. Hey Sugar! Is good for one year. Infused Lavender Simple Syrup Source: Maxwell Bradford, Native Roots Serving size should be based on desired THC content. Ingredients 3 grams dried lavender 3 cups water 2 cups cannabis-infused sugar (See the earlier recipe for infused sugar.) Directions In a small saucepan bring water to a boil. Stir in dried lavender. Simmer until fragrant and remove from heat. Strain out all residual lavender using cheese cloth or a coffee filter. Bring the now purple filtered lavender water back to a rolling boil. Add infused sugar and continue to boil until all sugar granules have dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

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How to Grow Marijuana Outdoors

Article / Updated 09-30-2019

Growing marijuana plants outdoors is generally easier than growing them indoors because Mother Nature chips in to do some of the work. Even so, you have to lay the groundwork for a successful grow to ensure that your plants receive the nutrients they need. Here, we lead you through the process of preparing a site for outdoor cultivation. As long as you have a sunny location in an area where you get at least eight to ten weeks of relatively sunny weather and temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you can grow cannabis outdoors. If your growing season is short, you can get a jump on things by starting your plants indoors and then transplanting your seedlings (after a brief hardening period). If you live in a warmer climate, you can simply plant your seeds outside after the threat of frost passes. How to choose a cannabis grow site If you decide to grow outdoors, choose your grow site carefully. Consider the following factors: Compliance: Your grow site must comply with all local rules and regulations. It must be private property owned by you. In most locations, your garden must be secure with a privacy fence and plants no taller than the fence. Any gates must be locked to prevent kids from getting to the plants and to discourage theft. Space: The amount of space you need depends on the number and types of plants you want to and are legally permitted to grow. Your plants will need to be spaced at least three to five feet apart, so they all get plenty of sun and breeze. Think ahead. Will each plant have enough space when fully grown? Will plants shade other plants from the sun? Soil: Cannabis can grow in a wide variety of soil types, as long as the soil has sufficient drainage. If it doesn’t, you can amend the soil or plant in containers. Sunlight and darkness: Cannabis plants need at least five hours of direct sunlight plus at least five hours of indirect sun daily. They’ll reward you for more sun with a bountiful harvest. Also, don’t plant a photoperiod strain under or near a bright street lamp; otherwise, it may not flower properly. Consider surrounding objects such as buildings and trees and how the angle of the sun changes over the course of the growing season. As a result, an area that gets full sun all day long during one part of the growing season may be shaded part or all of the day during another part of the growing season. Ideally, your grow site will get sun all day long throughout the growing season. Convenient access: You’ll be tending to your plants regularly and be eager to watch them grow, so pick a location with easy access. A backyard garden may be ideal. Access to water: Unless it rains every few days, you’ll need to water your plants regularly, so pick a site that has easy access to water. Cannabis must be grown on private property, so you must own the land. Growing on public land, such as a national park or forest, is illegal. Evaluate the soil Prior to planting in an outdoor grow site, check the soil. Quality soil has the following characteristics: Loamy: Loam soil is a combination of approximately equal parts of sand and silt along with relatively little clay. It retains moisture, but it also drains well, so plants aren’t sitting in saturated soil in which they’re susceptible to root rot and other diseases. Loam soil crumbles easily in your hands. If the soil is rock hard when dry, it contains too much clay. If it doesn’t hold together at all when you squeeze it into a ball, it may be too sandy. Fertile: Healthy soil also contains organic matter, such as decomposing wood and other plant matter. You can mix mulch and other amendments into the soil to increase its fertility, if necessary. Slightly acidic: You can use a pH meter to test the soil’s pH, which should be in a range of 5.5 to 6.5. Anything lower is too acidic, and anything higher is too alkaline. Alive: Good soil is home to many critters, including earthworms and beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms. If you don’t see anything crawling around in your soil, it’s probably lacking in organic matter. Take a soup can of soil from several areas around your grow site to your local nursery or university extension office to have your soil tested. Test results show pH levels; levels of key nutrients, including potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen; concentrations of organic matter; and so on. You may also receive specific recommendations on amendments needed to improve soil quality. For a more thorough guide to evaluating outdoor soil, check out the free Willamette Valley Soil Quality Card Guide published by Oregon State University. Decide whether to grow in-ground or in containers When growing outside, you have the option of growing your plants in containers or in the ground. Sometimes, the choice is easy; for example, if the only place with enough sun is a concrete or wood deck, you have no choice but to grow in containers. If you do have a choice, consider the pros and cons of each option: Planting in-ground is generally easier and more forgiving. With quality soil, you don’t have to worry so much about plants becoming root bound or developing root rot, and you may not have to water as frequently. Containers add height which may make your plants taller than allowed by law or taller than the privacy fence you built. If containers are too small, plants can get root bound, preventing them from absorbing the water and nutrients they need. In containers, plants may also be more susceptible to root rot if the plants don’t drain properly. You can move containers around if the sunny locations in your space change over the course of the growing season. If you have poor quality soil, you need to amend the soil prior to planting, which adds to the cost and work involved. In a container, you can easily customize your soil mix to create the perfect grow medium for your plants. Harden off your marijuana plants If you start your plants inside (in a grow room or on a windowsill), harden them off before transplanting them to an outdoor location. Hardening off is a process in which plants gradually become acclimated to the outside environment over a period of seven to ten days. Take your plants outside for 30 minutes or so on the first day and place them in a sheltered area where they receive indirect sunlight and perhaps a gentle breeze. Continue to increase this time by 30 minutes or so each day, gradually increasing their exposure to more direct sun. Watch your plants carefully for signs of heavy stress such as burning or wilting. Light stress is good, and it will accelerate the hardening off process, but heavy stress can kill a plant or severely impact its ability to flourish. You should also harden off your plants against the cold. If frost is possible, keep the plants inside at night. Otherwise, gradually expose them to the cold nights. You may want to place them in a cold frame or under a box or bucket at first to provide some shelter from the cold without having to bring them inside, just be sure to uncover them the next day or they may overheat. Over the course of seven to ten days, they should be able to make it through a cool and frost-free night. Support and protect your plants When growing plants outside, you may need to provide them with support and protection from the elements, especially cold and frost as the summer growing season ends. First, focus on providing your plant with structural support throughout its growth cycle especially in the flower stage. The idea is to provide your plant’s branches the support they need to grow big fat buds without becoming too heavy and breaking off from the main stalk. Bamboo stakes, along with twine or Velcro plant straps, are great and provide a variety of ways to stake your plants, such as the following: Place a stake alongside the stalk, and tie the stalk to the stake. Place three or four stakes around the periphery of the plant, and tie branches that need support to the stakes. You can also wrap twine around the stakes to create your own “cage.” Place a row of stakes in front of or behind several plants, and then tie stakes horizontally to the vertical stakes (or weave them together) to create a trellis. You can then tie branches to the trellis. Tomato cages are also great and readily available at any garden or hardware store. Place them over your young cannabis plants, and the plants will grow up through the cage and be well supported. Even better are Screen of Green (ScroG) kits, which provide support along with a means for scrogging.

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How to Make Concentrates from Cannabis

Article / Updated 09-30-2019

You can create your own respectable concentrates safely and without the use of dangerous processes, expensive machinery, and toxic solvents. In this article, you discover how to make your own kief, dry ice hash, bubble hash, rosin, charas, tinctures, and butter. How to make kief (dry sift) Kief consists of the trichomes that cover cannabis buds. Trichomes contain most of the cannabinoids and terpenes a plant contains. Making kief is simply a matter of knocking the trichomes off the bud and collecting them. You can use one of the following methods to make kief: Store your flower in a kief box or pollen sifter box. These boxes have two chambers, and the bottom of the top chamber is made of a fine mesh. You place your flower in the top chamber, and as kief naturally falls off the flower, it collects in the bottom chamber. Use a three-chamber grinder to grind your flower. The top chamber grinds the flower, which falls into the second chamber. The kief that falls off the flower passes through a screen at the bottom of the second chamber and collects in the bottom chamber. To collect larger quantities of kief, buy or make a large pollen sifter (shown in the following figure) and obtain a slightly smaller box or tray to collect the kief. (You can make your own pollen sifter by stapling or gluing a fine screen or mesh to a wood frame.) With the sifter positioned above the tray, gently press down on and roll dried, cured flower against the mesh or screen causing the trichomes to fall off the flower, through the mesh, and onto the tray. The finer the mesh, the lower the yield and the higher the quality of your sift because less plant matter falls through the mesh. For the mesh material, consider using silk screens used for screen printing. Also consider cranking down the temperature in your work area or breaking up and freezing your flower before you start — the cold makes the trichomes less sticky, enabling them to more easily separate from the plant matter. You can consume kief by rolling a joint in it or sprinkling it over flower after packing your pipe or bong bowl. You can also use kief to create other products, such as hash. How to make dry sift hash When you have some kief, you’re ready to make your own dry sift hash. All you do is add a little heat and pressure to form it into a ball or patty. You have several options: Load the kief into a pollen press or similar device and tighten the plunger. Place a small piece of parchment paper under and over the kief to keep it from sticking to the press. Ball up the kief and roll it between the palms of your hands, sort of like making meatballs but with more pressure. Wrap it tightly in cellophane or parchment paper, tape it securely, and place it in a shoe below your heal. Walk around with it for a while, doing whatever you need to do. Wrap your kief tightly in cellophane. Fill a glass jar or bottle with hot water, seal it tightly, and place the bottle on top of the wrapped kief and leave it for 30 to 60 seconds. Roll the bottle over the wrapped kief to press it into a patty. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap the kief tightly in cellophane and then a newspaper. Wet the newspaper with hot water and place it on a baking pan and into the oven for 10 minutes (no longer than that). Using a spatula, remove your package from the oven, place it on the counter (or on a cutting board), and roll it with a rolling pin (one or two passes should do the trick). How to make bubble hash Bubble hash uses ice-cold water and agitation to separate the trichomes from the plant material. The easiest way to create bubble hash is to buy and use a bubble bag extraction kit, which you can find online or order from most hardware stores. The kit typically comes with a bucket and multiple bags with increasingly finer mesh screens at the bottom. Here’s how you use a bubble bag extraction kit to make bubble hash: Break up your plant matter and freeze it. Your plant matter may be any combination of leaves, buds, trim, or shake, but the more trichomes it has, the better the yield and the quality of the end product. Cold is mandatory because it hardens the product and allows the trichomes to snap off the plant matter. You can use a combination of indica and sativa or a single strain. The indica trichomes have fat heads that get caught in larger screens whereas the sativa trichomes require a smaller screen to catch. Place your bags in the bucket with the finest mesh screen on the bottom followed by bags with progressively wider mesh screens, as though you’re double-bagging your groceries. For example, you might have a 25 micron bag at the bottom that collects the trichomes followed by a 73-, 160-, and finally a 220-micron bag at the top. After placing each bag, fold its top over the bucket to secure it in place. Fill the bucket about one-third full of ice. Add your frozen plant matter until the bucket is about half full. Add cold water, as cold as possible, until the bucket is about three-fourths full. Mix the ice, water, plant solution thoroughly and vigorously. You can use a paint mixer attached to an electric drill to ensure a thorough mixing. Mix until all flower is broken into tiny pieces and the solution appears frothy at the top. Let the solution rest for 30 minutes to enable extraction. Slowly lift the topmost bag out of the bucket, allowing the fluid to drain into the next bag down. When nearly all the water has drained from the bag, squeeze it tight to remove as much liquid as possible, and then set the bag aside. Repeat Step 8 with subsequent bags. The last bag contains your trichomes. Using a spoon or plastic kitchen scraper, scoop out the mushy trichome product from all bags except the first one you removed (the bag with most of the plant material), and place it on a tray lined with paper towel. All bags except the first one you removed contain usable product, but you may want to keep the product from each bag separate, because product quality from the different bags varies — product from the smallest mesh bag is highest. (Optional) Repeat Steps 2–10 if you want to extract additional trichomes from the plant matter. Place the tray with the mushy trichome product in a cool, dry, dark place to dry. The dried material can be pressed into cakes with your hands or used loose. To avoid the added expense of a bubble bag extraction kit, you can use two clean buckets and rig your progression of finer mesh screens. You can even use a coffee filter as your smallest “screen,” although it may drain very slowly. If you go this route, you still need to fill your bucket with ice, plant matter, and cold water and agitate it vigorously. Then, you pour from one bucket, into the other, through progressively finer mesh screens. How to make dry ice hash Dry ice provides a quick and easy way to collect kief. Here’s what you need: Cannabis plant matter (fresh frozen or dried flower and trim) — amount can vary, but you don’t want much more than will fill a five-gallon bucket more than a third of the way. Dry ice (about three pounds for up to six ounces of plant matter). You may be able to purchase dry ice at your local supermarket or use your smart phone to search for “dry ice near me.” An ice pick, hammer, or screw driver to break up the ice. A five-gallon bucket. Three bubble hash bags (73-, 160-, and 220-microns) or similar devices for sifting the kief. Use bags made for a five-gallon bucket. (You can use one 220-micron bag, if you don’t mind having different grades of kief all mixed together.) Thick rubber or leather gloves, an oven mitt, or tongs (for handling the dry ice). A clean, dry, flat surface. Paper and tape to cover the work surface (newspaper, wax paper, or parchment paper will do). A spatula, scraper, or plastic card (such as a credit card) to remove the kief from the work surface. Three one quart storage containers for the kief. Use thick rubber or leather gloves, an oven mitt, or tongs when handling the dry ice. Never allow it to touch your bare skin — it can cause injury similar to a severe burn. After gathering your supplies and plant matter, take the following steps: Cover your work surface in paper and tape down the paper so it won’t move. Break up your flower and/or trim into small pieces and place it in the bucket. With your gloves on, break up the dry ice into ice-cube size pieces or somewhat larger and add it to the bucket. Shake the bucket for about five minutes to distribute the cold and start knocking the trichomes off the plant matter. Place a bubble hash bag or screen over the top of the bucket. Start with the smallest mesh bag. Turn the bucket over your work surface, allowing the contents to drop into the bag and then remove the bag from the bucket, hold the top of the bag closed, and shake the bag over the work surface. Continue shaking the bag until trichomes stop falling through the screen. For best results, shake the bag for 10 seconds, wait 5 seconds, shake again for 10 seconds, and repeat. This gives the ice a chance to cool the surrounding plant matter between shakes. Use your spatula, scraper, or plastic card to scrape the kief into a pile, remove it from the work surface, and place it into one of your storage containers. Over the work surface, transfer the contents of the bag into the next smaller mesh bag and repeat Steps 7–8, and then repeat this step for the final, smallest mesh bag. You can use the kief you collected to make your own dry sift hash. How to make rosin You can make your own rosin for dabbing without the use of harmful and dangerous solvents. All you need is a hair straightener (with a setting of about 300 degrees Fahrenheit), parchment paper, plant matter (cannabis flower, kief, or hash), heat-resistant gloves (for safety), and something to scrap the rosin off the parchment paper when you’re done. After gathering your equipment and materials, take the following steps: Turn on your hair straightener and set it to between 280 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a degree setting on your straightener, start low and gradually increase the temperature. Cut a square piece of parchment paper that’s slightly larger than twice the width of your straightener and fold it in half. Place your plant matter near the middle of one half of the folded paper, fold the other half on top of it, and hold the two halves together to keep the plant matter from shifting. Being careful not to burn your fingers, place the folded package between the metal plates of the hair straightener. Close the straighter and squeeze as hard as possible but not so hard that you break your straightener. Squeeze for three to five seconds and release. You may hear a sizzle indicating that the resin has been extracted. (Optional) Repeat steps 2–5 using the same plant matter to extract any remaining rosin. Scrape the rosin off the paper and use it immediately to dab, or place it in an air-tight storage container for later use. How to make charas Charas is similar to hash and is thought to have originated in certain parts of Asia. The difference between charas and hash is that hash is typically made from dry, cured flower, whereas charas is made from fresh cannabis typically harvested two to three weeks prior to fully mature flower. All you need to make charas are fresh cannabis and clean hands. To make charas, follow these steps: Wash your hands thoroughly with an organic, unscented soap, and dry them. Slowly and gently rub flower between the palms of your hands. The heat and friction loosen the trichomes and make them stickier, so they come off the flower and stick to your hands. When your hands are good and sticky and you’ve removed most of the trichomes, rub your hands together to create a stick or ball of trichomes. This is charas. Repeat steps 2–3 until you run out of flower or have all the charas you want. You can vape charas with a dab rig, add it to a joint or bowl, mix it with tobacco and smoke it in a hookah, or use it to create rosin. The traditional way to smoke it is with a chillum, which is like a one-hitter but requires two people. You make a loose fist with one hand and place the chillum between your pinky and ring finger with your other hand cupped below the hand holding the chillum. You’re essentially using your hands and the chillum to create a pipe. Then, someone lights the charas for you as you inhale. Make your own cannabis butter Cannabis butter is a great MIP for using in various recipes to create your own edibles. To make your own cannabis butter, first gather the following ingredients and supplies: 1/2 pound of salted butter (it has a higher melting point than unsalted butter). 1/4–1/3 ounce flower. (You can adjust the amount to increase or decrease the potency, and you can add trim, if desired.) 16–48 ounces of filtered or distilled water (amount depends on how long you choose to simmer). Cookie sheet. Parchment paper. 2–3 quart sauce pan. Sharp knife, coffee grinder, or blender. Oven and stove (or crock pot). Cheese cloth. Storage containers (glass is best). When you have everything you need, take the following steps to make your butter: Preheat your oven to 245 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread your cannabis out on the paper. Bake your cannabis for 40 minutes to decarboxylate it and then remove it from the oven and allow it to cool. Chop the cannabis with a knife, grinder, or blender. Add the butter and one cup water to the saucepan and simmer on low until the butter is melted. (Don’t let it boil.) Add the chopped cannabis. Continue to simmer uncovered for at least three hours, stirring occasionally and adding small amounts of water, if necessary. (Don’t let it boil.) Set a funnel lined with cheese cloth on top of a jar or other suitable container that’s large enough to hold all the liquid. Slowly pour the contents of the saucepan through the funnel to strain the cannabis butter. Remove the funnel and place the jar in the refrigerator to cool. The butter will rise to the top, leaving water at the bottom. Scoop your butter out of the jar and place it in your storage container. The importance of decarboxylation Raw cannabis contains tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa), a precursor to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the psychoactive substance that produces the “high.” THCa has a number of properties that may help relieve symptoms of various medical illnesses. For example, it has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. However, it is non-intoxicating. THCa has an extra carboxy ring (a group of chemicals) attached to its chemical chain. This ring must be removed to create THC. Various methods, referred to as decarboxylation, are used to remove this ring. The most common method is to apply heat. When cannabis is smoked or vaped, for example, the heat causes immediate decarboxylation. If you make cannabis brownies using chopped flower and trim, decarboxylation occurs during the baking process. For decarboxylation, cannabis must be heated to 220 degrees Fahrenheit for 30–45 minutes. Unless you’re smoking it, you should keep the temperature below 300 degrees to preserve the integrity of the cannabinoids and terpenes. Make your own tincture A tincture is a concentrated herbal extract. You can find THC+CBD tinctures at dispensaries and hemp-derived, CBD-only tinctures online and at many stores across the country. Various commercial processes are used to create tinctures, but you can create your own home-brewed version. Here’s what you need: An 8 ounce or 16 ounce jar with a lid. Enough dried cannabis to fill the jar. Enough consumable alcohol to fill the jar — use Everclear or vodka. Use only consumable alcohol — alcohol you buy at a liquor store, not rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, which is toxic. A sharp knife or blender. A saucepan. An oven and stove. Keep the alcohol away from the stovetop. High-proof, consumable alcohol is flammable. Use low heat and preferably an electric stove or hot plate instead of a gas stove. You can even use the heating plate on your electric coffee maker. To create a tincture, take the following steps: Preheat your oven to 245 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread your cannabis out on the paper. Use enough cannabis to fill your jar. You may use less for a less potent tincture. Bake your cannabis for 40 minutes to decarboxylate it and then remove it from the oven and allow it to cool. Chop the cannabis with a knife, grinder, or blender. Place the chopped cannabis in a jar and fill it with consumable alcohol. Place the jar (uncovered) in a saucepan about half full of water and simmer on low for about 20 minutes. Let the mixture cure and then strain it through a coffee filter. You consume tinctures typically by placing a few drops under your tongue and waiting a few seconds before swallowing. Start low and go slow. When you brew your own tinctures, you may have no idea how potent it is.

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