Articles and learning resources about marijuana
growing marijuana, cbd, thc and more
How many of you guys have tried your hand at growing your own marijuana (legally, of course)? How many of you have spent several hours designing a grow room, purchasing lights, fertilizers, pots, growing mediums, seeds?
The internet is full of so-called ‘grow guides’ that may teach you a thing or two about marijuana,but they don’t really go into the details and in-depth descriptions that one would need to have a successful marijuana harvest every time.
I have scoured the internet for countless hours researching marijuana growing and all it is is a scavenger hunt to find the correct and non-conflicting information you need to grow marijuana well for your situation and the amount of space you have available.
What is really ridiculous when how-to guides and books start telling you you can grow 20 pounds of marijuana in 5 foot by 5 foot closet in only a month. This is a complete source for growing beautiful buds of medicinal marijuana. It is authored by Ryan Riley, a medical marijuana connoisseur, grower and teacher. He has spent several years learning how to grow potent medical marijuana plants from the best of the best in the medical marijuana industry.
When first cracking open the guide, I was immediately surprised by the amount of the information piled into this eBook. It has information for the absolute beginner marijuana grower and smoker as well as containing lots of advanced growing techniques and methods for the experienced marijuana grower.
I must admit though, the book tops out at around 720 pages, which certainly isn’t something I had expected from a marijuana growing book, it is hands down the biggest, most comprehensive guide out there that has a lot of time put into it. Most of the books and guides I have seen for growing marijuana range from 10 pages to 300 pages. At first, it was troubling for me as I was trying to wrap my head around what exactly was in this book to make it be so long.
Honestly, everything anyone would absolutely need to know is in the book. It takes just about every concept related to the cultivation and growing of cannabis and explains it in an easy to read and easy to understand format so anyone can do it.
The book is full of good, high quality content that anybody just starting out will appreciate as well as tons of advanced growing techniques for those marijuana growers that have been around the block and already have a few harvests under their belt.The book is divided into 12 specific chapters, each one covering a specific area of marijuana growing:
Marijuana Basics, Cannabis, Lighting, Growing Marijuana, Growing With Soil, Cloning, Hydroponics, Your Grow Area, Growing Outdoors, Cannabis Maintenance, Harvest, and Advanced Growing.
Each chapter is then sub divided into separate sections covering a specific topic. For example, Lighting has the follow sections:
- The Lighting System
- Light Sources
- High Intensity Discharge (HID) Lighting
- Lighting Your Plants
- Electrical Safety
- Lighting Schedule
The last chapter in the book includes several advanced techniques that are quite important to an advanced or a commercial grower. It features sections relating to marijuana genetics, breeding, strain creation as well as providing CO2 for better yields and eliminating odors. One thing I particularly like about these advanced sections is that just because they are for advanced growing techniques they are not explained using advanced terminology and abstract ideas. Just about anybody can pick up this book and head over to the advanced growing section and understand what is being explained.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. is as in-depth as it needs to be in an easy-to-read and easy-to-understand format for learning how to grow your own weed. The sheer volume of pages in the book may scare some of you, but it includes everything you would need to know and would need on hand to start a marijuana grow from seed to harvest. It sure beats scouring forums on the internet for that little bit of information or any clarification you need.Head on over to grab your copy of Growing Elite Marijuana:
The Complete Guide by Ryan Riley.
Before getting into what all these cannabinoids are and what they do, it’s important to first understand the endocannabinoid system and what it does for your health. In short, the endocannabinoid system exists within your central and peripheral nervous system and contains receptors that send messages throughout your body to help achieve and maintain homeostasis.
These endocannabinoid receptors are the same as the phytocannabinoids found in cannabis, which will either modulate or stimulate your existing receptors when ingested, which can cause the psychoactive, pain-relieving effects you know and love.
A single cannabis plant can contain 100 or more cannabinoids, but today we’re going to focus on those that are the most commonly occurring and potent. You’ll notice that some of these cannabinoids are the raw acid version of another cannabinoid, which is the natural state it’s in before the molecular structure is changed through a heating process called decarboxylation.
Raw cannabinoids exist within the trichomes of fresh cannabis flowers. The raw chemical state contains what is called an extra carboxyl ring in its chain, which slowly breaks down when exposed to light, heat, and air, eventually converting into the decarboxylated version that is actively absorbed by the body. This process happens in smaller doses during the curing process that dries the cannabis leaves, but it’s not until you put a flame to the flower and take a big inhale that you’ll truly decarb the cannabinoids and get, for example, psychoactive THC instead of raw THCA.
Each cannabinoid has a different boiling point where decarboxylation will occur, but it typically happens between 200 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now that you have the basics on the endocannabinoid system and decarboxylation, here are the 11 most common cannabinoids you’re most likely to find in any given cannabis plant.
Cannabigerolic Acid aka CBGA
Cannabigerolic Acid is the “stem cell” cannabinoid, meaning all cannabinoids first start off as CBGA before they are broken down by enzymes and evolve into either THCA, CBDA, or CBCA (more on those ahead). The ability to produce CBGA is what sets cannabis apart from other plants. Once the enzymes break down CBGA and it molds into its intended branch, these different cannabinoid lines provide unique sets of benefits. Then, once those raw cannabinoid compounds are decarboxylated when smoked or vaped, you get a whole different cannabinoid yet again.
Cannabigerol aka CBG
CBG is a minor cannabinoid that is not as well known as CBD or THC, but should be; it’s the chemical parent of both of those cannabinoids, meaning CBG turns into THC or CBD when it is exposed to UV light or heat. Typically, cannabis plants contain less than 1% CBG. Medicinally, it is a powerful vasodilator that may have the ability to reduce intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients. It has also shown a beneficial effect on patients with inflammatory bowel disease and Huntington’s Disease. Breeders are working on creating more CBG-heavy strains by cross-breeding and experimenting with extraction times, and a medicinal strain is in the works by a Dutch medicine company.
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid aka THCA
THCA is the precursor to THC, the most popular cannabinoid. The two abbreviations are used interchangeably on many dispensary labels despite the fact that THCA and THC are technically two different cannabinoids. THCA in its own form, which exists in the trichomes of raw and live plants, does not contain the same psychoactive effects as THC. Preliminary research on THCA is showing some promising medical and therapeutic benefits like slowing cell growth in prostate cancer and helping reduce seizures in epilepsy patients. These benefits are why superfood lovers add raw cannabis leaves to juices, smoothies, and salads.
When cannabis flowers are trimmed and left to cure, the heat exposure allows the decarboxylation process to begin, which slowly starts to convert the plant’s THCA content to THC. But it’s not until you either heat it up and make some cannabutter or pack a bowl and put a flame to it that the decarboxylation process reaches the right temperature and you get…
Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol aka THC
When THCA is heated to its boiling point of about 315 degrees Fahrenheit, it takes on the psychoactive form of THC we all know and love. THC works by binding to CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system in a process that works like a lock and key. The stimulation from THC is what produces the euphoria and psychoactivity of cannabis, which can affectpeople in many different ways depending on the strain and quality of herb you’re smoking. If you’re smoking an indica strain, it’s more likely to mellow you out and help you fall asleep, but if it’s a sativa, you might find a jolt of euphoric energy or a case of the giggles. Some people don’t even notice significant differences from one strain to another.
What’s important to remember about THC’s effects is that everyone’s endocannabinoid system is unique and the effects will vary depending on your body’s existing cannabinoid levels. If you’ve ever felt paranoid or anxious after smoking weed, it could be an overexpression of CB1 receptors, which will mellow out quickly if you can center your thoughts and focus on one thing for a couple minutes. On the contrary, if you’re suffering from depression, PTSD, or have other mental health concerns that affect your quality of life, the CB1 stimulation could be exactly what your system needs to find balance again. Other potential health benefits of THC include treatment for nausea, loss of appetite, and similar symptoms in chemotherapy patients. One pilot clinical study showed THC to inhibit tumor cell proliferation in glioblastoma multiforme patients and increased life expectancy by 24 weeks.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin aka THCV
THCV is made of the same intoxicating molecules and acts on the same receptors as THC, but the effects are quite different. It’s said that the ‘high’ you get from THCV is more psychedelic but also more fleeting than the high from THC. This is why it’s called the “race car” cannabinoid – it comes on fast and leaves almost as quickly, unlike the slower onset of other cannabinoids. THCV is most potent in landrace African sativas like Durban Poison and other strains made with its genetics, which probably explains why strains with poison in the name come on so intensely for some people. The boiling point of THCV is 428 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you’re vaping this one you’re going to want to turn it up to a higher than usual setting.
Studies have shown THCV to act as an appetite regulator, as cannabis users are less likely to be obese than non-cannabis users. Another study suggests that cannabis users have lower levels of fasting insulin, which could show potential for cannabis as a medication for diabetics.
Cannabinol aka CBN
CBN is a popular therapeutic and non-psychoactive cannabinoid known for its insomnia-fighting effects. Unlike most cannabinoids that originate as CBG, CBN stems from THC that has degraded after overexposure to air, light, or heat. If you have a poor storage system (get your hands on a Cannador) or some old herb lying around, save those nugs for nighttime as they will be higher in CBN, which is a great sleep aid and appetite stimulant. According to Steep Hill Labs, 5mg of CBN is equivalent to 10mg of Diazepam.
Cannabidiolic Acid aka CBDA
CBDA is another raw cannabinoid that exists in the trichomes of raw cannabis leaves. As decarboxylation occurs it converts to CBD, the medical cannabis powerhouse. This is another cannabinoid that exists in only trace amounts, so breeders are working on strains higher in CBDA rather than THCA in order to increase the availability of its effects. If you add raw cannabis leaves to a juice, smoothie, or salad, you may experience some of the anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects that are similar to CBD, although there is little data to determine its effectiveness versus that of the decarboxylated version.
Cannabidiol aka CBD
As you’ve probably figured out, CBD is the decarboxylated version of CBDA and it’s responsible for most of the health benefits when it comes to cannabis products. CBD is so popular around he world that there’s actually industry focus on that. In short, CBD modulates CB2 receptors located throughout the central and peripheral nervous system while stalling the fatty acid that breaks down these receptors. This process helps the endocannabinoid system achieve and maintain homeostasis, which is why CBD has demonstrated anti-seizure, anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving properties that offer alternative relief for a variety of conditions. CBD has no psychoactive properties, so you can reap all of these benefits without the high.
Cannabichromenate Acid aka CBCA / Cannabichromene aka CBC
CBCA/CBC is the third most commonly occurring cannabinoid after THC and CBD. These non-psychoactive compounds are known for powerful anti-inflammatory effects that can also be used to control swelling, and CBC’s effects are supposedly more potent when combined with THC and CBD to produce an entourage effect, in which cannabinoids work together to intensify their benefits. One study showed CBC to block pain and inflammatory responses, and another suggests that the way it acts on inflammation with a lack of side effects is safer than NSAIDs like ibuprofen.
Cannabidivarin aka CBDV
CBDV is similar to CBD in that it is non-psychoactive and boasts some serious medical potential. One study has shown CBDV to decrease the severity of certain types of seizures, and scientists have been researching its effects as an anticonvulsant for people with epilepsy. GW Pharmaceuticals is currently testing CBDV’s effects on patients with autism, Rett syndrome, and epilepsy. CBDV-heavy strains are most commonly found in landrace Indica strains throughout northwest India and Pakistan.
The more you know about the different cannabinoids and how they interact with your body, the easier it will be to discover different strains and products that work best for you. Knowledge is power when taking charge of your own wellness, so keep learning, stay curious, and smoke up those cannabinoids.
To say that CBD is having a moment would be a grand understatement. Thanks to a growing cultural acceptance of cannabis, the legal weed market is flooding with new products touting unfamiliar, often ambiguous labels – CBD supplements, CBD beauty products, CBD lube, even CBD water – sounds exciting, but what’s it all about? What does it do to my insides? Will that CBD lube get me high down there? (Probably not). We’ve compiled this guide to break down the basics of what CBD is, how it works with the human body, and whether it’s as life-changing as everyone claims. What is cannabidiol/CBD? CBD is one of about ~113 cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant. It is a fat-soluble lipid that can be extracted from the stems and stalks by dissolving it in oil or alcohol. You’ve probably heard of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid that gets you high when you smoke weed. THC is wonderful, but for decades, CBD has been the Jan to THC’s Marcia – left in the background, but no less worthy of attention. CBD on its own will not get you high, but it is known for producing calming, stress-relieving effects. How does CBD work? Both THC and CBD work with the naturally-occurring cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which exists in the central and peripheral nervous systems of all vertebrates. THC works by binding to CB1 receptors in the brain and spinal cord, which hold a ton of influence over things like memory, pain, and motor control. THC acts as a stimulator to these receptors; if you’ve ever felt a little anxiety or paranoia from a certain strain of weed, it’s likely due to an overexpression of CB1 receptors. CBD is not like other girls and does not bind to receptors. Instead, CBD works as a modulator for CB2 receptors, which exist in small quantities in the brain but mostly throughout the peripheral nervous system, immune system, and gastrointestinal system, where they help facilitate pain and inflammatory responses while helping the body achieve and maintain homeostasis. CBD also helps to inhibit fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which breaks down valuable endo and phytocannabinoids at the receptor site and thus reduces the overall quality of the system and receptor messages. This inhibition by CBD makes it easier for endocannabinoids to replenish themselves and improve signal quality without excessive interference from FAAH. One fascinating detail is that changes in CB2 receptor expressions or endocannabinoid levels is a reported symptom of nearly all diseases affecting humans. That includes gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, kidney, liver, autoimmune, chronic pain, psychiatric, bone, and skin disorders, among others. Are there health benefits to CBD? As for the health benefits of CBD, the science is still out. Clinical trials on federally illegal schedule 1 narcotics are difficult to pull off if you can believe it, so you won’t find unequivocal scientific proof that CBD can treat or cure anything, although that will likely change soon. And because it has not been approved by the FDA, manufacturers cannot make any medical claims. However, that doesn’t change the overwhelming amounts of anecdotal evidence and small studies that have shown promising effects of pure CBD on the body. Here are some CBD studies and clinical trials worth checking out: Trial of Cannabidiol for Drug-Resistant Seizures in Dravet Syndrome. Over a 14-week treatment period of orally-consumed CBD oil, the median number of seizures dropped by 39% each month compared to 13% for patients treated with a placebo. The reported side effects were minimal – mostly drowsiness and diarrhea – far better than seizures or traditional epilepsy drug side effects. Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States. Between 1999 and 2010, states with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower average annual opioid overdose mortality rate versus states with no legal cannabis. Next time your Uncle Scott says cannabis is a gateway drug, tell him it’s actually an exit drug that could help him cut down on pain pills for arthritis if he’d just be cool, for once. In this 2011 study, CBD “significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort” in the public speaking performance of people with social anxiety. A University of Utah clinical trial is currently underway which will examine the effects of THC and CBD on chronic pain symptoms and how different doses of each can improve quality of life. The study is expected to be completed early next year. This clinical trial is studying the efficiency of CBD as a treatment intervention for opioid relapse. This one is studying its effects on alcohol use disorder and comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder. On a more anecdotal level, CBD users have reported that it’s helped relieve symptoms like menstrual cramps, headaches and migraines, nausea, inflammation caused by diseases like Arthritis and Crohn’s, insomnia, anxiety, depression, IBS… the list goes on. Since CBD is only supplementing what’s already happening in your body, the effects you feel from CBD can vary significantly depending on the quality of your product, the size of your dose, your experience with cannabis products, the severity of your symptoms, your endocannabinoid levels, the makeup of your genetics, the cut of your jib… all of these vary from person to person, and so your experience will be unique to your body. How is CBD consumed? Vapes, dabs, oils, tinctures, salves, balms, edibles, waters… if it’s extractable or infusible, someone has probably added CBD. However, that doesn’t mean that all CBD products are created equal and you should always check the ingredients list first. With any CBD product, the active ingredient should be a phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil that’s been extracted from organic, pesticide-free cannabis plants using a supercritical CO2 extraction method that requires no butane and leaves no residual solvent behind. This is the cleanest method of extraction that will ensure you’re not ingesting anything you shouldn’t be. Is CBD legal? Yes and no but mostly yes. Confused? Good, so is everyone else. THC and marijuana are the only parts of the plant listed under the Controlled Substances Act, which does not specifically mention CBD. In 2014 the Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp for research purposes, which was defined as the rest of the plant like the stalks, stems, and any other pieces that contain less than 0.3% THC (like CBD). So it’s legal, unless your state regulators decide it’s marijuana, then apparently it’s not unless you have a card or recreational access. Before making any purchases, it’s best to check your state laws and be sure to vote out the anti-pot people at midterm elections. Will CBD show up on a drug test? Nah, you’re good as long as you’re using a THC-free product. Drug tests look for THC only, so if your CBD is made with less than 0.3% of THC, as it should be if it’s labeled CBD oil, you’ll be fine. CBD Product Recommendations Kurvana’s PureCBD Crystals Calm Pen by Dosist Hemp Signature 6X Oil Concentrate by Bluebird Botanicals Full Spectrum CBD Oil by NuLeaf Naturals CBD Gummies by HempBombs
CBD oil is an amazing supplement that has exploded in popularity over the last couple of years. When I tell people I work in cannabis, so many questions come up about CBD oil – does it work, is it all the same, how do I know which brand to buy? These are all valid questions and a prime example of why you have to be your own advocate whether you are a cannabis consumer, employee, or activist. What I mean by “be your own advocate” is that you are going to have to know how to do your research if you want to find a high-quality product that offers the benefits many CBD oil companies claim you will find with their oil. In this industry, nobody else is guaranteed to do that for you. When you buy CBD, there are no laws or regulations to ensure a baseline standard of quality, purity, or potency. This means it’s super easy for a money-hungry serial entrepreneur to buy wholesale white-label CBD oil, slap a trendy label on it, and tell everyone on Instagram that they’re selling the next best thing in holistic healthcare (don’t get any ideas!). If I stood in the middle of all my Instagram followers, I could throw a rock and hit someone claiming their CBD oil will cure glaucoma but can’t tell you where the endocannabinoid system is located. This post contains all of the information I want you to arm yourself with before your first or next CBD oil purchase. This information can be applied to any cannabis concentrate like vape cartridges, waxes, and shatters, but for the sake of convenience, I am gearing this toward CBD. That’s where the most interest is right now and therefore where most of the snake oil artists like to hang out. (For information on how CBD interacts with your body and can benefit your health, check out my guide to cannabidiol here). If you use these standards to choose a CBD product, you will not have to worry about wasting money on snake oil. In fact, most credible and ethical manufacturers will have all of this information readily available on their website so you shouldn’t have any issues finding it. If you do have a hard time finding any of this info, send a message to customer support. If the answers you get are wishy-washy (AKA “we have a direct and close relationship with our manufacturer”), do not purchase from them. Maybe that sounds extreme, but when it comes to something you’re putting in your body you have the right to know exactly what is in it. Chances are any ethical company selling a high-quality oil will agree with me in that this information should be the standard for required information. Here’s what I want you to know before buying CBD oil. How and where are the plants grown? Not only do most companies not grow their own plants, but they are also not required to tell you their source. Many companies buy cheap plants from halfway across the country (or globe) with no knowledge of the soil they grew in, whether they were chemically treated, or whether they are potent enough for a decent product. This is problematic because cannabis is a “hyperaccumulator,” so if it’s grown in soil that contains a lot of heavy metals or is sprayed with pesticides, at least some of that is going to end up in the plants and then your oil. Quality companies are transparent about the origins of their plants, whether they grow cannabis themselves or work with a local supplier. My suggestion is to look for companies that use USA-grown organic hemp because farmers are at least required to get certified through their state. Trust me when I say that companies who grow their own plants or work with a good supplier take great pride in this because they know the market is saturated with companies who don’t bother. They will be more than happy to share this information with you whether it’s already on the website or you reach out to them through customer service. Does it contain THC? Tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC, is the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis that gets you high. (Check out our post on the most popular cannabinoids and their effects). CBD and THC both come from the same plant, but not everyone who wants CBD also wants to get high on THC. If CBD oil is processed poorly or not lab-tested before bottling, it could contain more than 0.03% THC, which is the maximum amount that can exist in legal CBD products. Any CBD oil you purchase should state that it contains less than 0.03% THC. What’s the concentration of CBD? Your oil label should always state how much CBD is in the bottle. It’s common for oils to contain anywhere from 200mg of CBD in a 4-ounce bottle, to 1,000mg a bottle and higher. The higher the concentration, the higher the amount you’ll get per dose and the quicker you’ll feel the cumulative effects. Is it third-party lab tested? This is the golden ticket to verifying CBD and THC levels as well as the purity of your oil. If you only take one piece of advice from this blog post, please let it be this. Any good company will provide lab-testing results for the batch of CBD oil you are purchasing. Lab tests will look for pesticides, herbicides, bacteria, fungus, heavy metals, foreign matter, and residual solvents from extraction. This is crucial for people with compromised immune systems. It is also important to know how to read these lab results, so if any of the information is confusing I recommend reaching out to the company with any questions. NuLeaf Naturals is my preferred oil company because all of their products tested at Steep Hill Labs, one of the most reputable labs in the industry. The results are available right on NuLeaf’s product pages. What is the extraction method? The extraction method used to make your oil can have a significant effect on the end result. Some of the cheaper methods require solvents like butane, hexane, or propane which can leave unwanted residue in the final product. These methods are also known to yield lower amounts of cannabinoids, which is why some companies can get away with such cheap prices. Pharmaceutical-grade ethanol is a safer solvent option, and it also yields a much higher cannabinoid content without the petroleum residue. The absolute best way to extract CBD from cannabis plants is through a process called supercritical CO2 extraction, which uses high pressure in a cold environment to extract the cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes without the use of solvents. This is a more complex process that requires expensive equipment, but it’s the best way to ensure your oil is pure and potent. Is the company making dubious medical claims? I was on Instagram the other day and saw this: First of all, this company runs like a pyramid scheme so for that reason alone I would never trust their product. Secondly, this is straight up unethical advertising. There are some small studies that show CBD may have potential in slowing tumor growth, protecting the brain from trauma, helping with symptoms of epilepsy, reducing mental health complications, etc., but trustworthy companies will err on the side of caution before throwing out any medical claims, which usually means they’re not going to tell you it will slow your HIV progression. The best way to determine what CBD could do for your health is to understand how it works within your endocannabinoid system. Everybody’s endocannabinoid system is different. Your experience with CBD can vary depending on your experience with cannabis and tolerance levels, any illnesses or symptoms, your current endocannabinoid levels and tone, your metabolism, how much food you eat, and so much more. One product could change your life and relieve all your symptoms while doing absolutely nothing for someone else. Bottom line: It is intellectually dishonest to say there are no benefits to CBD. The amount of anecdotal evidence alone should tell you that it does actually help people feel better. However, that doesn’t mean it’s OK for a company to claim their products will get you off your prescription medication or cure your Tourette’s. That is ridiculous and unethical. Is it a broad/full-spectrum oil or CBD isolate? Full-spectrum oils contain more than just CBD – they also contain other important plant materials like terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids that work together to create what is known as an “entourage effect.” These oils are usually labeled “full spectrum” or “whole plant”. If the oil has had the CBD removed, it will likely say “broad spectrum” on the label, which is what you want if you’re looking for an oil with non-detectable THC levels. CBD isolate is a fine powder containing cannabidiol and no other cannabinoids or plant ingredients. It is usually consumed through vaping, or by adding it to food and beverages. The moral of the story here is that transparency is key to finding a CBD company that is ethical, trustworthy, and selling a high-quality product. This is a ‘new’ industry and there are no set standards to protect us or ensure that we’re getting what we’re buying. The best thing we can do as consumers is to require this information from any company we purchase from to encourage a safe, transparent marketplace that puts people’s health and safety above profits.