Plant Growth Regulators: What They Are & Why You Should Avoid Them

Plant Growth Regulators: What They Are & Why You Should Avoid Them

Original Post: Cannabis Aficionado: Plant Growth Regulators: What They Are & Why You Should Avoid Them

[Canniseur: Everyone should read this story. Really. Whether you’re a grower or not, these Plant Growth Regulators can be carcinogenic in our smokable weed and in our extracts and concentrates as well. It’s serious. Serious enough that I believe that some growers in Michigan are using them as well as California and probably all the other states. A hard dense nug is NOT necessarily a good thing. I believe I reported on some nugs a few weeks ago that were ‘over manicured’ and dense. I believe the grower used PGRs. Another reason not to like this grower.]

The dark years of cannabis prohibition here in California created an innovative and highly competitive black market for weed that thrives to this day despite the state’s relatively progressive path toward legalization. Risk has always been high for illicit growers and their tactics to avoid the prying eyes of law enforcement have evolved over time. Decades ago, the use of helicopters and spotter planes to target pot farms forced growers to camouflage their cultivation, or in many cases, move it all the way indoors.

This radical change in the way cannabis was grown, particularly in Cali, led to a massive leap in quality control as indoor growers could now “play god” and manipulate all environmental conditions to their liking. However, it also led to a drastic drop in overall yields.

Remember, we are talking about the Nineties, so most of these were not yet warehouse-style grows. They were closets, garages, basements, and spare rooms for the most part and even though you could flip each room a few times per year, the overall weight harvested paled in comparison to the massive trees that could be grown outdoors.

With a limited footprint to grow in, and a limited canopy above (ie. the ceiling and lights), growers began looking for any way they could to boost the number of grams of finished buds that they could pull from each square foot of cultivation space.

For some, like our friend Josh D, that meant revolutionizing hydroponic grow systems and optimizing that method for cannabis production while at the same time introducing and perfecting the ultimate indoor strain — OG Kush. The optimal genetics of this iconic strain naturally produced shorter, bushier plants with massive, dense, and potent buds, making it ideal for indoor cultivation.

Not all growers were blessed with such genetics or know-how, though, and it didn’t take long for some of them to start to seek out some rather unsavory store-bought shortcuts to try to compensate for lackluster harvests.

Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs)

Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs) date back well before the Nineties cannabis boom. First introduced to American agriculture in the 1920s, these chemical compounds were used for nearly half a century to either boost or slow down the natural rate of growth of plants through phytohormonal manipulation.

For example, groves of fruit or nut trees could be filled with shorter trees that yielded more produce thereby reducing the time and risk of harvesting and, in turn, increasing profits.

However, when independent lab studies showed that certain synthetic PGRs could potentially be carcinogenic, the FDA stepped in and banned the use of such products on consumable food crops in the 1970s.

Those products did not vanish, though. They continued to be used to keep trees at parks from growing too tall, or to make bouquets of grocery store flowers bloom brighter and grow at such uniform sizes and, as we know, to artificially boost cannabis yields. In fact, the global demand for PGRs has more than doubled in the past six years and now stands as a $6.4 billion sector of the agricultural industry.

Some growers are using this particular shortcut knowingly but many others may be pumping their pot full of PGRs without even knowing it as this controversial compound has been found (often unlabeled) in many popular brands of fertilizers and nutrients. If growers use those products and just so happen to see tighter, denser, and heavier nugs as a result… win/win, right? What’s wrong with increased yields and solid buds, anyway?

Guaranteed Mids

It’s no secret that, for the most part, the regulated cannabis market in California is flooded with mid-grade weed that is barely worthy of a blunt wrap for most seasoned smokers. The logistics of the supply chain and the way things have to be packaged in today’s market can mutilate even the best-grown buds by the time they reach the end-user but, sadly, most of the supply these days was pretty shoddy to begin with. We call it California’s “Mids Life Crisis”.

As many state-sanctioned cultivators struggle to stay afloat in the new legal market, too many are feeling the pressure of whatever deal they signed with the devil to fund their startup and are willing to do whatever it takes to make their numbers make sense. PGRs are the perfect tool for such an unscrupulous job.

Simply put, the way that PGRs boost cannabis yields is by pumping those nugs full of water at the cellular level which leads to the expansion. You are not boosting the vigor or potency of the plant, that added weight is literally moisture and cellulose. So while California cannabis testing labs are not required to flag samples for PGR levels, they will show lower overall THC levels – bigger buds do not always equal stronger buds.

So how can you tell if that herb you are inspecting at the dispensary has been treated with Plant Growth Regulators? Here are a few telltale signs to look for:

  • Buds that are extremely hard or dense in structure
  • Buds with an excessive amount of pistils, often matted or intertwined
  • Pistils often have more of a brown hue than the rusty orange seen on healthy buds
  • Distinct lack of visible developed trichomes
  • Lack of strain-appropriate aroma

Still unsure? Ask the budtender direct questions about it. Who grew it? Where was it grown? Research that feedback or pass on those products if that information is unknown. At the end of the day, it is our job as consumers to do the due diligence to ensure that what we put into our bodies is legit. Relying on any company or corporation to do that for you is naïve, particularly when it comes to the Wild West of legal weed.

Safety Meeting

Roughly a decade after the FDA banned the use of synthetic Plant Growth Regulators on crops meant for human consumption, the Environmental Protection Agency followed suit in the 1980s by placing even heavier restrictions on the use of certain PGRs and labeling them as environmental pollutants. The EPA warned that exposure to these synth PGRs could elevate a person’s risk of cancer 240 times higher than the acceptable standard.

That being said, many of those studies involved subjecting rats to astronomical levels of various PGRs in order to trigger negative reactions and there is no hard evidence that smoking weed treated with PGRs is much different than eating In n’ Out instead of a home-cooked burger. But, to us, it does matter and we will avoid synthetic PGR weed at all costs. We don’t want to smoke it, we don’t want to vape it, and we certainly have no interest in extracting it to create full-spectrum cannabis oil. Nothing about Plant Growth Regulators benefits the consumer, period.

Now, that’s not to say that all PGRs are bad news. In fact, there are many natural sources for Plant Growth Regulators that can be useful and healthy supplements for your fertilizer or nutrient base. But as a grower, you should feel obligated to thoroughly understand how they are sourced from nature and exactly how they work with the balanced chemistry of your plants before putting them to use. Failure to do so can take you from “Top Shelf” to “Midzotics” real quick!

Remember, fellow cultivators: If your SOP calls for more PGRs, then your QC is probably BS.

What’s Next?

Look for PGRs to make a major splash in the newly established American hemp marketplace as the importance of higher yields compounds dramatically at the large scale that those farms will be operating at. Combine that with the relative lack of lab testing requirements and Plant Growth Regulators figure to play a large role in helping the U.S. compete in the global market. American hemp is mandated by federal law to produce a ridiculously low 0.3% THC content, so the fact that PGRs murder trichomes only helps growers and manufacturers.

As for what role Plant Growth Regulators will play in the future of cannabis, that will likely come down to regulation since we see that there are too many growers who are willing to cut that corner when it is left up to them. At the very least, plant fertilizer and nutrient companies should be mandated by law to accurately list all ingredients and contents of their products. That way the growers who are trying to do the right thing can make informed decisions about how they treat their gardens, farms, and warehouse grows.

Finally, as consumers, we can speak with our hard-earned dollars. Quit buying PGR tainted buds! Tell your favorite dispensary that you aren’t interested in buying those products. If enough of us do exactly that, the free market will… ahem… weed out the PGR growers and those who push their products.

Beard Bros. Pharms has earned their reputation as a trusted source for cannabis news, content creation, and culture preservation. With decades of experience in cultivation and marketing, their fearless voice for the plant includes advocacy for veterans, inmates, people of color, and anyone else who has been oppressed by generations of cannabis prohibition. See what they’re up to now at BeardBrosPharms.com

The post Plant Growth Regulators: What They Are & Why You Should Avoid Them appeared first on Cannabis Aficionado.

Original Post: Cannabis Aficionado: Plant Growth Regulators: What They Are & Why You Should Avoid Them

Trichomes Are the Key to Most Potent Cannabis Flowers

Trichomes Are the Key to Most Potent Cannabis Flowers

Original Post: Cannabis Now: Trichomes Are the Key to Most Potent Cannabis Flowers

[Canniseur: It’s in the trichomes. The balance between THC, terpenes and other compounds in the trichomes is just being discovered. Trichomes are where all the good stuff in cannabis is made. This doesn’t necessarily mean that frostier buds are better. Frosty buds means there are a lot of trichomes. And not all are created equal. The frosty look to our favorite buds are finally being researched for what they are and science is discovering they’re not all created equal.]

For the diehard cannabis connoisseur, one whose only mission in life is the quest for the eternal buzz, tracking down that one marijuana strain that really kicks them in the boo-boo can be tough. It means visiting one dispensary after another, where, often, none of the staff ever seems willing to break out the secret stash from the back. And we know they’ve got one! So there is a lot of trial and error in this process. And this search for perpetual highness can also dwindle away at the old bank account, too, which really sucks, because it can be difficult to hold down a steady job when one’s life’s work consists of only hunting down the strongest marijuana in the land.

If only there were a way to determine the potency of a plant without having to dedicate so much time, money and lung power to the cause.

Well, it turns out there are some old school physical properties of a cannabis plant that are meant to tell us just how mighty the marijuana is before we ever put in our pipes and smoke it. A recent study published in the Plant Journal finds that the frostier the buds, the more likely it is for the pot to pack a punch.

These crystalized hairs (trichomes) that have been held in high regard for decades by marijuana aficionados are what produces the chemicals that give the plant all of its psychoactive and medical properties, the study, which was conducted by the University of British Columbia, has confirmed.

This means that the more tiny, mushroom-shaped fibers on the cannabis flower, the more cannabinoids are present. These frosty attributes, which are a defense mechanism to protect the cannabis plant from UV rays and animals, also give the plant its pungent aroma, the study finds. In other words, cultivators that are hellbent on producing the best, stickiest, stinkiest cannabis known to mankind are going to need to be well-versed in manufacturing plants that are abundant in trichomes.

“Despite its high economic value, our understanding of the biology of the cannabis plant is still in its infancy due to restricted legal access,” Teagen Quilichini, one of the study authors and postdoctoral fellow at UBC Botany told Science Daily. “Trichomes are the biochemical factories of the cannabis plant and this study is the foundation for understanding how they make and store their valuable products.”

For years, cannabis experts have focused on three trichomes: bulbous, sessile and stalked. Although science has had a pretty solid grip on the function of these components for a long time, little has been known, up until now, about their involvement in shaping the potential of this magnificent plant.

To come up with the latest findings, researchers used chemical profiling and microscopic techniques to get to the bottom of internal structures and individual trichomes. What they found was that all three emitted different colors when put to the test under ultraviolet light.

“We saw that stalked glandular trichomes have expanded ‘cellular factories’ to make more cannabinoids and fragrant terpenes,” said Sam Livingston, lead author and Ph.D. candidate at UBC Botany. “We also found that they grow from sessile-like precursors and undergo a dramatic shift during development that can be visualized using new microscopy tools.”

As the study points out, this ultraviolet testing method could be used in the cultivation process to monitor trichome maturity and ensure that harvests are made at the appropriate times.

Researchers also said that additional discoveries involving trichome DNA could revolutionize cannabis production.

“We found a treasure trove of genes that support the production of cannabinoids and terpenes,” said principal investigator Anne Lacey Samuels, a professor of botany at UBC. “With further investigation, this could be used to produce desirable traits like more productive marijuana strains or strains with specific cannabinoid and terpene profiles using molecular genetics and conventional breeding techniques.”

In the end, more details about how trichomes work will only serve to create better pot products for the consumer, the researchers said.

Trichomes Are the Key to Most Potent Cannabis Flowers was posted on Cannabis Now.

Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice

Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice

Original Post: High Times: Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice

[Canniseur: Always good advice from Danny Danko. And lots of good practices even for budding growers. Growing cannabis isn’t easy. Even though it’s called weed and will grow wild, cultivation takes some attention. Adhere to these practices, even if your ‘growroom’ is just a closet or small cabinet and you’ll grow great cannabis.]

High Times’ cultivation specialist Danny Danko answers all your burning questions about being the best grower you can be. But first, some quick tips from the expert himself:

  • Root-bound plants in a coco or soilless mix should be transplanted into larger containers.
  • Keep your plant nutrients stored in light- and airtight containers in a cool, dark place instead of under lights in your growroom.
  • Change your clothing and shoes before entering your growroom to avoid bringing in pests.

Subject: Plant Labeling
From: Billy the Kidd

I keep my different strains labeled when I’m growing them, but what do you think is the best way to keep track of them while they’re drying? Keep in mind that I grow over a dozen different plants and smoke a ton of cannabis, so I can’t just remember where I hung everything up and in which order.

Dear Billy,

The best way to keep track is to attach a label to the plant or branch you’re drying. It’s best to move the branches around a bit in your drying space to ensure that everything dries evenly, and attaching a label will help you avoid any confusion later.

Each strain should be cured separately from any others in sealed glass jars. Different strains will require different rates of “burping” or opening the jars to release and replenish the air inside. Denser strains will take longer to cure than wispier ones.

Subject: Burned Tips
From: Jay Farmer

No matter what I do, I always get burned leaf tips! I’m following the instructions on my nutrient bottles (General Hydroponics’ three-part system) to a T, and yet I always have this issue. The buds end up tasting and smoking all right, but I know something is off when I see the tips turning brown and drying up.

Dear Jay,

You are overfeeding your plants. The recommended amounts listed on the labels of nutrient bottles tend to lean toward the maximum your plants can absorb, sometimes leading to slight overfeeding issues such as yours. Most nutrient companies want you to run out of plant food and return to the grow store to buy more.

My advice is to feed at half the rate recommended on the package or bottle unless you see signs of underfeeding. Better to err on the side of caution than to have to deal with the nightmare of overdoing it. You can always add more nutes, but it’s more difficult to remove them in case they over-accumulate. Also, be sure to water with plain pH-balanced water between feedings to give your plants a break. Follow these two simple rules and you’ll never see those dreaded burned tips again.

Subject: Send in the Clones
From: Curious Bones

I sent in a question a few weeks ago about the best way to sex some regular seeds, and although you haven’t answered it yet, I have come to the conclusion, based on another panel discussion on episode No. 49 of your podcast, that taking a cutting and sexing it is the way to go. I have never taken cuttings, and have always grown directly from seed. How long does it take a cutting to root? How soon will that newly rooted cutting flower?

Dear Curious,

In proper conditions, cuttings should root 5-10 days from when they were taken from the mother plant. In order for this to happen, you must keep your cloning chamber warm and humid (around 80°F; and 80 percent humidity). I recommend using a tray with a clear plastic dome under a bank of fluorescent lighting. Cut a hole about the size of a quarter in the clear plastic at either end of the tray to allow for some airflow, and you’ll see roots popping out of the bottom of your medium in a week or so.

If you’re flowering the cutting in order to determine the sex of the mother plant, you can begin flowering it as soon as the clone shows roots. You won’t get much to smoke off of it, but you’ll know the sex of the corresponding plant within a couple of weeks. Tiny yellow spikes that look like small bunches of bananas are a sign of male flowers, while white hairs emerging from a bulbous, teardrop-shaped calyx are indicative of females.

Subject: Slow and Low
From: Unhappy Dwarf

I have had a couple of plants turn out short with tiny leaves. One that I planted around December 1 is only about a foot tall. Another is about 18 inches tall with lots of leaves and branches. It should be 4-5 feet tall by now. Am I causing this, or were the seeds bad? Please help! Should I give up on them?

Dear UD,

Your plants’ lack of growth could be caused by several factors. First and foremost is light. They must receive enough light to perform photosynthesis and create new cells. If you’re growing outdoors, the plants need full, direct sunlight for at least 14 hours a day. Indoors, you need to ensure they’re getting enough lumens from your grow light, which should also be positioned close to the plants.

Your plants could also be suffering from a lack of food. Plants need nutrients to grow, and they eventually use up whatever might be present in their medium. You must provide them with a nutrient solution that will provide the macro- and micronutrients necessary for healthy growth.

The third factor is genetics. It doesn’t sound like you’re familiar with the strains you planted, and so they could have bunk genes. Seeds pulled out of a baggie of buds don’t tend to perform nearly as satisfactorily as well-bred F1 hybrids with hybrid vigor.

You don’t have to give up on your plants, but you should definitely change their situation by adding light and nutrients. If that doesn’t help, then you’ll know it was the seeds themselves that are to blame and you can move on to better genetics in the future.

Subject: Planting Seeds
From: Thomas G.

Should I germinate my seeds before I plant them? I’ve heard differing opinions, and I’d like to know the best way to get them started for optimal growth.

Dear Thomas,

Some people choose to use the moist-paper-towel method to germinate their seeds, but I recommend just sowing them directly into the medium you plan to grow in. This reduces any stress the seedling might suffer during the transplanting process and secures the young plant firmly into your chosen mix. It’s important not to plant too deeply (a quarter-inch deep is perfect) and to keep the medium moist and warm for the best germination success rate.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with using a moist paper towel, though, as long as you’re gentle with the emerging lap root and you don’t let it grow too long before planting. I prefer simply to start the plant in its own medium, which reduces the likelihood of damaging the tender young roots and shoots. Additionally, always keep your grow light close enough to your seedling so that it won’t stretch too much and become long and lanky.

Subject: Vegging Again
From: Gary

I’ve heard some very interesting things about growing that make me wonder. A friend of a friend claims she has clipped buds from her mature plant and returned it to an 18/6-hour day/night light cycle, and it started growing again. Have you ever heard about this? Is it a bunch of fertilizer?

Dear Gary,

Yes, it is absolutely possible to do this. It’s called re-vegging. After you’ve harvested most of your plant, leave some fan leaves on a few branches and place it under a vegging light cycle, and you’ll see new leaves and branches begin to develop after a week or two. This is a particularly good technique if you are trying to save a certain strain and the plant is your only genetic connection to it. Once enough leaves and branches have formed, take a clone from your re-vegged plant and root it in order to keep that strain in your motherplant library.

I don’t recommend re-vegging in order to re-flower the plant, however. The law of diminishing returns is at play, and while you will get some buds out of the plant, your yield won’t be worth the effort and time spent on accomplishing the task. You’re always better off starting with a fresh seedling or rooted clone than with a re-vegged plant. So consider re-vegging as a last resort to save particular genetic material, and not as a way to get a second harvest from the same plant.

Subject: Curled Leaves
From: Barry F.

Can [you] tell me why my leaves are curling under on my indoor pot plants?

Dear Barry,

There are several things that might be causing your leaves to curl under, but the most probable is water stress. Most likely, you are overwatering your plants. The other possibilities are over-fertilization, high temperatures or nutrient lockout caused by pH variation. Check your temperature, nutrient and pH levels; if all of them are within the proper parameters, then water stress is the likely culprit. Let your plants’ medium dry out between waterings and the symptoms should go away.

One last thing I should mention is that there are also plant viruses that cause leaves to curl under, but I’d have to see a photo to correctly diagnose that malady.

Subject: Bud Boosters
From: Glen J.

I have a few plants outside. The buds are really small and it’s starting to get cold. Is there any way to boost bud production before I’m forced to cut them due to frost?

Dear Glen,

While there is no way to get buds to grow any faster than they are genetically disposed to grow, there are a couple of things you can do to still harvest a decent crop. First, you can utilize some sort of greenhouse structure in order to extend your growing season.

A hoop house or small greenhouse can retain heat in cold-weather conditions and keep your plants safe from frost for at least a few weeks before it gets too cold. If the greenhouse is heated or attached to a heated residence, you can continue growing well into the winter.

You should also consider bringing your plants indoors to finish growing under grow lights. If the plants are in the ground, carefully dig them up, trying to avoid damaging the root system, and put them into containers that have drainage holes.

Send your cannabis-cultivation questions to deardanko@hightimes.com.

This feature was published in the May, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.

Dear Danko: Expert Grow Advice was posted on High Times.

8 Plant-Training Techniques Explained

8 Plant-Training Techniques Explained

Original Post: High Times: 8 Plant-Training Techniques Explained

Well trained plants yield far more than those left to their own devices/ Erik Biksa

[Canniseur: There many ways to trim and promote growth to create a larger crop. Different methods to promote plant growth are described in this article for an excellent primer.]

From basic to advanced, here are some methods that increase plant size and provide bigger yields.

Topping

Removing the main crown shoot of your growing tip will ensure that two new shoots will grow back in its place. Pinching out once will create two tops; pinching out twice will create four tops; and so on. This technique is as simple as cleanly removing the growth tip until a lighter, fleshy-colored part of the plant tissue is exposed.

This will heal over and then form new growth shoots. It is very important to create a clean cut to avoid “fimming” (see below). I personally like to use a clean pair of nail cutters and to really get in and cut as close as possible. When incorporating a screen into the garden, topping is essential in creating a symmetrical canopy base from which to work.

Benefits: A plant’s height is basically cut in half-instead of one tall plant, the plant is separated into two parts. With this technique, the growth hormone that is responsible for apical dominance-in which a plant’s central stem is dominant-is cut off and a new hormone is emitted that promotes lateral growth. When the canopy is pinched out until the plant is flat-topped and multi-branched, canopy control is at its maximum.

Topping plants out will produce a greater number of smaller-size colas, as opposed to a main cola with supporting side branches if left untrained. This technique is ideal for growers who have limited space and want to avoid tall, lanky plants, and those growing plants with long vegetative periods, as this technique will produce a vibrant plant with eight heads in about 4-5 weeks.

Fimming

When fimming, 80 percent of the crown shoot is removed, with a very small amount left behind. In response, the plant will cease to produce upper growth, focusing its energy on the rest of itself underneath the highest part where it has been fimmed. Growth at the low part of the plant, from the very base of the pot and each internode upward, will increase, creating a thicker-looking plant. To use this technique, simply take a pair of scissors and snip away three-quarters of the tip of the crown shoot of the main cola or on the top shoots of the supporting side branches. “Fimming” is short for “Fuck, I missed!” because the technique was discovered by accident.

Benefits: Plants will have time to focus on enhancing the growth tips that are below the fimmed shoot. The lowest buds will have a chance to catch up with the rest of the upper growth, so when the top shoot does grow back to normal, the entire plant has increased in size. Fimming can create really bushy plants, and it can help avoid weak-producing lower buds.

Super Cropping

This is my favorite technique for pushing my plants to the limit. It’s a hands-on high-stress method that involves breaking the inner cell walls of a branch by popping it between your fingers. When successfully performing this technique, you’ll be able to hear an audible snap as the plant’s inner walls collapse-or at least feel a change in the pressure inside the plant.

With young softwood plants, popping the center parts of each internode will suffice; however, with plants that are more woody, it’s much easier to twist and a bend, and there’s a quicker healing response.

Benefits: If you have ever seen a plant that has an almost-round, knuckle-shaped growth forming over a bent branch, it’s been super-cropped. Once the inner cell walls in a branch collapse, growth hormones are sent to the break.

The result is a hardwood, protective growth that will not only provide added support, it will also boost the plant’s vigor and ability to respond to stress. A plant that has been super-cropped will be noticeably stronger in terms of vigor, stature and overall yield.

Tie and Bend

Otherwise known as low-stress training (LST), this technique involves tying and bending certain parts of the plant at certain times to compel the canopy to grow symmetrically. This technique involves tying the plant down with string or metal cables and lowering the highest point of the crown shoot. The plant will respond with the rest of the growth tips now competing to produce the main cola. Through careful calculation and planning, a grower can simply use leverage to compel the plant to form into a short and stout bush in which the main cola is unidentifiable come flowering time.

Benefits: The benefit of LST is that the canopy will be round with heavy side branches. Additionally, as the plant grows sideways, the axillary shoots that would’ve once produced small flowering sites will not grow upward and toward the light.

The end result comes down to how many times the plant’s been tied down to create new vertical shoots. This technique is also very important when using a screen, and it’s a great way to make those once tiny nugs into main colas.


Screens provide a trellis for branches to fill/ Erik Biksa

Using a Screen

Referred to as screen of green or ScrOG, this technique involves the application of a screen or net to act as a trellis through which your upper canopy will grow while clearing away the lowest part of the plant below the screen, ensuring a maximum yield of symmetrical flowering sites.

This method requires longer vegetative times than other plant-training techniques, as selected shoots must be fed through the screen over the growing phase. Making a screen is as simple as laying chicken wire over a wooden frame, tying bamboo shoots together in a square formation or even using wire or pea netting.

Benefits: Using a screen not only allows the grower to be totally hands-on with his plants; it also allows those with very small plant counts to achieve large yields in a small grow space. The plants have no choice but to dedicate all their growth above the screen, resulting in no low-hanging schwag buds and improved air flow below the canopy.

Pruning

Getting rid of fan leaves and low-growing tips is something that all growers should consider doing, but only at the proper time. Plants use their energy on whatever growth there is, so knowing when to cut away and strip the parts that are less productive than the upper parts is important. Take a pair of scissors and, as if you were taking clones, cut away the lowest growth of the plant that will take away from the prize buds you desire.

You should cut away everything from side branches to big healthy fan leaves. A good rule of thumb is to remove around 60 to 70 percent of the growth from the base of pots upward. You can also use your finger and thumb to strip away from the branches. Be vigilant to check for any new growth forming where the pruning took place.

Benefits: During the flowering stage, plants will exhibit the lollipop effect, where the main central stem has been stripped bare under a healthy, vibrant top canopy.

If you don’t prune the lowest parts of the plants, you’ll always struggle with the low-producing, light-deprived growth.

By clearing away a large proportion of the lowest plant parts, you can be assured that during the blooming phase the plant’s energy is being used as efficiently as possible and is focused on the heavy nugs on top. Pruning can make a big difference in the overall production of a cannabis plant, ranging from flower size to overall consistency.

Mainlining

This technique is slightly more complicated than traditional low-stress training, and it focuses solely on symmetrical plant growth. The principle behind mainlining is to remove the top shoot and all of a plant’s lower growth to create a bare stem. This allows the two axillary shoots to grow upward to form two primary shoots. If you picture a capital-Y shape and then grow from this starting figure, you can then tie the two shoots down to allow them to grow in a letter-T figure.

Benefits: Although it can seem like a very stressful training method and can certainly feel counterproductive, the important thing is to stick with it. Due to a carefully arranged symmetrical design, the plant will send signals to each pathway to make sure that each bud flowers and grows the same as all the others. The end result can be very impressive, but keep in mind that this method is for more experienced gardeners and requires much patience.

Strip and Flip

This method involves pruning away everything underneath the top internode of the plant’s branches a few days before flowering. This focuses all the plant’s energy into the remaining nodes. A full-scale prune can be quite drastic, and it’s the last thing anyone would do to their precious plants, yet this technique works. What’s left is a very skinny-looking structure with only one top shoot, but when it flowers it grows quite top-heavy.

Benefits: This technique removes the risk of any lower-producing popcorn nugs, provides an excellent opportunity to take some healthy cuttings for future grows, improves air flow and reduces insect and pest infestations. The flowers that the plant produces will be thick and dense. The end result will be uniform nugs that are each around 3-5 inches in size with substantial biomass.

Using proper techniques, growers can produce plenty of flowers with fewer plants/ Erik Biksa

Top Tips on Plant Count

Large Plants

Growing large-size plants that take up quite a bit of room requires long vegetative periods to produce as much productive foliage as possible. One can argue about which method produces larger yields: one large plant or many smaller plants under the same grow light. My tip here is to dedicate a grow tent for one or two very large plants. Avoid vegging many plants in a tent as they’ll fight for light and overshadow one another as blooming commences.

Light Output

You may have purchased a 10-pack of the latest and greatest genetics, and although you calculate that planting 9 seeds under a 600-watt lamp will result in a 9-ounce yield, it really depends on the integrity of your lighting setup. Grow lights are measured in lumen count and photosynthetic active radiation (PAR). My tip here is to find out the amount of PAR your lights are emitting, then work out if it’s adequate enough to produce heavy-yielding plants.

Sea-of-Green Method

This method requires very short vegging times and a quick introduction to flowering.

The principle behind SOG is to grow as many small plants as possible in a limited space. The turnaround time may be a week longer than the flowering period for commercial growers. Make sure the strain you’re growing is well suited for a SOG grow (such as a short-flowering /nd/’ca-dominant variety) to make the process as straightforward as possible.

Strain Selection

There are many varieties of cannabis on the market these days, each displaying traits of indica, sativa or a mixture of both. Growing indica-dominant varieties will allow a grower to produce smaller-size plants. Hybrids can extend taller, and saf/Va-dominant strains will tend to stretch out even more. My tip here is to learn as much as possible about the strain you’re growing. It can determine a short or long vegging period, as well as if SOG or ScrOG is the right method to use.

Skill Level and Experience

If you’re new to growing cannabis, it’s better to grow a few smaller-size plants at first to learn the ways of the plant. If you’re more experienced, then generally having a larger plant is the norm, and the level of plant training that can be provided will result in a huge difference in terms of canopy control and final yield. A shorter vegetative time is more forgiving to the beginner, providing less time

to make catastrophic mistakes. Grow according to your skill level in terms of plant count, strain selection and nutrient use.

Budget

Your plant count and vegging time may be limited due to your budget; for example, electricity costs soar during the longer 18-hour lights-on periods. You may also be limited in nutrients and prefer to flower as soon as possible to save more during the growing stage. You may also be restricted to pot size, lighting capacity and many other things due to financial restrictions, so plan ahead to spend and grow within your time and financial constraints.

Vegging Room

For growers who have a vegging tent and a flowering tent, growing larger plants is probably not necessary, as a constant rotation of smaller-size plants is beneficial and practical. Invest in a tent solely for growing seedlings and clones until they are mature enough to be transferred to the flowering tent.

With the above options for training your plants, you’ll be able to find a technique that is well-suited for your individual space, time and financial considerations. Experiment and have fun-when harvest time comes around you’ll have some dank nugs to celebrate with and begin to plan your next grow!

Originally published in the March, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.

8 Plant-Training Techniques Explained was posted on High Times.

Starting to Homegrow? Here’s What to Look for in a Cannabis Grow Shop

Starting to Homegrow? Here’s What to Look for in a Cannabis Grow Shop

[Canniseur: I you want to grow your own, you’ll need supplies. Here’s a good guide to what you should be looking for in a grow shop. It’s kind of like home brewing your beer. You need some equipment to be able to grow your best plants possible.]

With most types of gardening, you can get everything you need, soil, fertilizer, tools, solid growing advice, and the plants themselves, from one spot—a nursery. Cannabis, however, is anything but one-stop shopping.

Deciding to grow is a big decision in and of itself and finding the right resources to nail the experience can be challenging. Plus, if you’re growing indoors, you’ll have even more factors to think about.

Here’s what to consider when looking for your cannabis supplies and a tribe of mentors.

Original Post: Leafly: Starting to Homegrow? Here’s What to Look for in a Cannabis Grow Shop

A Quick and Easy Guide to Getting Started with Growing Cannabis Indoors

A Quick and Easy Guide to Getting Started with Growing Cannabis Indoors

Original Post: High Times: A Quick and Easy Guide to Getting Started with Growing Cannabis Indoors

[Canniseur: As summer turns to autumn, thoughts turn to growing cannabis indoors. If you want to have a nice supply of your favorite plant during the cold short days of winter, here’s a terrific guide to starting your own grow indoors. You can’t start too soon – there are only about 16 or 17 weeks until the end of the year.]

Planting Seeds

We all want to see big frosty buds but, as with everything else in the plant world, you have to start at the beginning—by germinating the seeds. Although they should pop open within a couple of days, be patient—it can take up to 7 days for a seedling to emerge from the surface of your growing medium.

Things to Consider: Seedlings require warm and wet conditions to thrive. If you think of typical spring weather, this will give you a great idea of how warm and moist the environment should be.

The taproot of your seedling will grow deep down into your growing medium, searching for moisture and nutrients as it expands its root hairs to every corner of the grow pot. Avoid overwatering the seedlings and always encourage the roots to grow as deeply as possible by creating a wet-to-dry cycle, only watering when necessary.

Foliar feeding, or misting your seedlings using a spray bottle, will help keep the environment humid while also allowing the leaves to utilize any mild nutrients in the spray. Be sure to spray with a light mist, taking care to spray the undersides of the leaves as well to keep them clean.

Use feminized seeds to ensure that all your seeds produce only female plants. The advantage in using these seeds is that there’s no need to determine the sex of the plants and remove the males from the garden, allowing the grower to maximize space at all times.

When using regular seeds, the grower will be required to look for pre-flowers to identify male and female plants. Some growers prefer to use regular seeds to grow out a mother plant from which to take clones, so both regular and feminized seeds have their advantages.

The Vegetative Stage

When plants are kept under a lighting regime timed to replicate the spring and summer months, they remain in their vegetative stage, growing only leaves and branches but no flowers. During this stage, most growers set their light timers for an 18/6-hour day/night light cycle (18 hours on and 6 hours off). The plants will only begin blooming later, after the light cycle is changed to 12/12-hour day/night. Unless you are working against a deadline, it’s a good idea to keep your plants in the vegetative stage for 4 to 6 weeks.

Things to Consider: It’s very important to make sure that your vegging room’s temperatures and humidity are on point. You want to achieve an average temperature of 68-75°F (20-24°C) with a relative humidity between 60 and 70 percent. Buy a humidity-and temperature-reading device. They are inexpensive and will tell you how far you are off the ideal range.

Use an exhaust fan to remove hot, stagnant air from inside your tent. A constant exchange of cool, fresh air is key. Most grow tents give you the option to install an intake fan at the base, or you can open the mesh windows, which will help bring fresh air in.

If the garden is too hot due to excessive lighting, the plants will respond by ceasing growth and eventually dying. Remove heat judiciously.

The vegetative stage is an opportune time in which to train your plants. During this period, you will be able to perform a number of techniques to improve canopy coverage and overall yield. These methods include tying and bending, pruning, snapping and twisting, ScrOG (screen of green), topping and fimming.

During this stage, plants consume nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, with nitrogen as the primary nutrient used for leaf growth and some phosphorus used for the root zone.

The Flowering Stage

Now that your plants are strong and healthy, they’re triggered to begin flowering as they respond to shorter days by your changing of the settings on your lighting timer. You’re replicating August through October by giving the plants alternating periods of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark, which will get your plants blooming.

Things to Consider: Your plants will go through a transition stage once the lighting regime has changed. This will involve the plants stretching and growing up to 150-250 percent in size by the end of the flowering cycle. The plant’s growth spurt will be most noticeable during the first 3 weeks of flowering.

Just as it’s essential to maintain the correct temperature and humidity in the growing stage, the same is true for the flowering stage. You will want the temperatures at 70-75°F (22-24°C) with a relative humidity of 30-40 percent.

The plants will also need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; however, they’ll need phosphorus and potassium more in the flowering stage than in the vegetative stage to help produce buds.

Keep your oscillating and exhaust fans on permanently to prevent stagnant and moist air from surrounding your plants. Poor air circulation can result in mold and mildew on the flowers and foliage of your plants.

An Indoor Grow Checklist for Beginners

Below is a list of the essential equipment for setting up an indoor grow, and the perfect guide for a beginner grower to get started properly.

Choosing a Grow Light

Your choice of a grow light depends on your budgetary concerns, spatial logistics, growing experience and a few other factors mainly based around practicality. The cheapest option is generally a fluorescent system, which uses minimal electricity while producing little heat. An HID (high-intensity discharge) lighting setup such as HPS (high-pressure sodium) or MH (metal halide) is a pricier option that generates more heat, but it also produces fuller, denser flowers. LED (light-emitting diode) technology runs cooler and shows promising gains in production, but it remains an expensive choice due to the initial upfront costs.

Do You Need a Ballast?

A ballast is required when operating an HID lighting system. There are a range of ballasts available, from basic cheaper versions to more high-tech digital models with optional power outputs.

Intake Fan

Intake fans bring in fresh air from the bottom of the grow tent. The intake fan will have a smaller capacity than the main exhaust fan. which is connected to the carbon filter at the top of the tent. An intake fan, which provides fresh air throughout the tent and increases the integrity of the air exchange, is not absolutely essential if your exhaust fan works well and there is a good amount of air being sucked through the filtered vents placed at the lowest parts of the tent.

Exhaust Air Out

Generally, you will want to select a powerful fan to expel stagnant air from inside the grow tent.

This fan is also connected to a charcoal filter, which will control odor. A good exhaust fan will ensure that the airflow in the tent is recycled at a rate that is ideal for the plants, along with temperature and humidity levels.

Carbon Filter for Odor Control

The carbon filter is installed in the upper part of the grow tent, through which the exhaust fan blows the air directly outside and away from the fresh-air intake. Make sure that your filter and fan have the same airflow-rate capacity.

Acoustic Ducting

This silver flexible tubing is what facilitates air movement from the intake fan and the exhaust fan.

A cheap alternative is standard ducting; however, if you spend a bit more, you can invest in a noise-proof version. This is well worth the investment and will distribute the airflow as quietly as possible. When setting up ducting, make sure that there is no sagging to make it efficient as possible.

Plastic or Felt Pots

Traditional plastic pots are cheap and easy to find, while felt pots cost a bit more. Felt pots have their advantages—they keep roots warmer and make pruning them easier—and I would personally advise investing in them as they can be recycled and are much more beneficial to the overall health of the plant roots.

Selecting a Growing Medium

If this is your first grow, then selecting an organic growing medium is probably the easiest solution. There are many “soils” available, but most are actually soilless mixes based on peat or coco coir. I also advise beginning growers to avoid hydroponic growing until they’ve mastered the more forgiving soilless or coco mediums.

Nutrients

You should buy a sufficient amount of nutrients for your entire your first grow, making an effort to cover all the bases in terms of nutrition. There are many nutrient brands available with a wide range of foods covering all parts of a plant’s life cycle. Most nutrient companies provide a grow chart, so you can follow the weekly step-by-step guide, but err on the side of caution and avoid overfeeding your plants.

Temperature and Humidity Monitor

These small displays can fit anywhere and use sensors to determine and display the temperature and humidity of your indoor environment. Some also have the option to check the lowest and highest readings to see if the grow conditions are off in any way, and some even have apps so that you can read the data remotely on your phone.

Humidifier

During the vegetative stage, humidity should be close to 60 percent and decreased as the flowering stage commences. A humidifier generates a fine mist and can be placed either directly in the tent or in the room from where the tent is pulling air.

Dehumidifier

A dehumidifier will remove the moisture content of the air. This is important during the flowering stage. If you’re pulling fresh air from outside where the humidity is very high, it can cause an imbalance and lead to serious problems.

PPM OR EC Pen

These pen-size devices measure the parts per million and electrical conductivity of your nutrient solution. It’s extremely important for the grower to have an accurate measure in order to avoid issues with toxicity or deficiencies.

pH Pen

This device measures the acidity or alkalinity of your nutrient solution on a scale of 1-14 (from most acidic to most alkaline). Roots require a certain pH in order to absorb primary nutrients and trace elements. In soil, a solution should have a pH of 6.0-6.5; a hydroponic grow requires a slightly lower pH of 5.5-6.0. You’ll also need solutions to adjust the acidity or alkalinity of your nutrient solution (pH up and down).

Chains and Hooks

I’m old-school and still use chains and hooks for everything. Sourcing precut chain and metal S hooks is an easy task, and you know that you can’t go wrong with metal. Using modern bungee cords and metal wire works well, but when it comes to suspending heavy fans, large-size carbon filters and heavy LED grow lights, chains and metal hooks are the most reliable.

Thick Waterproof Tape

Always make sure you have a thick, waterproof packaging tape to firmly wrap all the connecting parts of your ducting and fans. This will keep everything airtight and waterproof—and it’s just handy to have some industrial-strength tape close by. Plastic cable ties and metal clips also work well; however, thick tape is cheap and easy to find.

Oscillating Fans

Once you have an exhaust fan and an intake fan set up and working, you’ll next want to add some additional airflow at the bottoms and tops of your plants. Oscillating fans will create a gentle breeze that will keep C02-rich air flowing around the leaves.

Timers

A timer is required to control all of the electrical devices inside the tent, according to your light regime of either a 18/6- or 12/12-hour day/night light cycle. Carbon filters and fans should be left on permanently. Don’t skimp on your timer, as cheap ones can easily malfunction or break.

Plug Extensions

You can never have too many plug sockets available when growing indoors. To avoid a mess of wires, I personally like to have all my fans connected to one plug extension, which is left on permanently. I have a second separate plug extension for the grow lights and ballast. Some timers are quite chunky and can take up a lot of the space, so having extra plugs is always a good plan.

Spray Bottles

Foliar feeding with water or a mild nutrient solution contributes greatly to a plant’s health and vigor, so it’s a good idea to purchase a few different spray bottles from your local hardware store. Spray bottles become smelly over time, so they’ll eventually need replacing.

White Sticky Labels

I personally like to have a few packs of white sticky labels lying around for when I’m growing many different strains. It can be too easy to mix up the strains, so I avoid any confusion by labeling the pots early on.

Now that you have your equipment, get growing!

A Quick and Easy Guide to Getting Started with Growing Cannabis Indoors was posted on High Times.

What Is Hash and What Makes It So Sticky?

What Is Hash and What Makes It So Sticky?

Original Post: Merry Jane: What Is Hash and What Makes It So Sticky?

[Canniseur: Hash is…wonderful. There’s a significant difference between concentrates (hash) and extracts (shatter and oils). Concentrates are like hash; concentrated cannabis, done naturally. Extracts are anything that uses chemicals (other than water) to extract the essence of the cannabis.]

How do you make hash, where did it come from, and why is it popular? If you’ve ever asked yourself this — or attempted to use hot knives to smoke — you’ve come to the right place.

Most tokers are familiar with kief — you know, the stuff that’s collected from cannabis flower once it’s been torn up in a grinder. What you might not know is that kief contains trichomes, or potent crystals, that coat the bud. Trichomes are made of oils and natural plant chemicals that can be compressed and made into something called hashish. This variant of concentrate, which likely originated in Central Asia, is extremely potent because trichomes are loaded with more intoxicating cannabinoids than any other part of the plant.

A Brief History of Hash

Historians believe hash has been around since 900 AD, inarguably making it the concentrate of antiquity. Made by hand, it was — and still is — the modality in which people from India, Morocco, Persia, Lebanon, and Afghanistan tend to favor.

Traditional hash-makers usually rubbed mature buds in their hands until the kief and other natural oils separated from the nugs. The hash-maker’s hands would then be covered in sticky brown puddy made of plant matter and oil. This is when they’d mold the hash together into consumable (read: sellable) amounts. It was most often molded into balls or flat hash coins, in which people would break apart and then smoke.

But the size, shape, and color of hash really depended on where it came from. For instance, in a story MERRY JANE wrote about the history of hashish, writer Randy Robinson explains that “Lebanese-style hashish comes in two forms: red and yellow. Yellow hash is made from plants cultivated at early maturation, when the buds mainly contain THC. Red hash is made from plants harvested later in the grow-cycle, where much of the THC has converted to CBN, which likely contributed to Lebanese red’s sedative effects.”

And the technique used to make this fine Lebanese hash is unique to the area, too. Robinson explains that for red and yellow Lebanese hash, cannabis buds are rubbed over fine screens to separate and collect kief. From there, the kief is stored where it settles and transforms into a sticky, dark chunk of delectable hash.

In India, on the other hand, hash balls known as charas reign supreme. Nicknamed “Temple balls,” this form of hash parallels Lebonese hash. The difference is that Indians only use live plants to run through screens instead of dried plants.

Fast forward several centuries, and weed technology has grown exponentially. Today, new machines allow cultivators to create ultra-concentrates such as waxes, shatters, oils, and rosins. Do people still smoke hash in 2019? Sure. But it is no longer the beloved delicacy it once was.

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Why Do People Like Hash?

Compared to shatter that’s been blasted with butane, or wax cartridges made with CO2, hash is a chemical-free, natural concentrate made by the hands of someone who probably loves weed as much as you. Old-school stoners who grew up on smoking straight plant matter love hash. Why? Because they are the purists who believe in the naturalness of marijuana, making them hesitant to delve into the complicated (often chemical-ridden) waxy concentrates sold at modern dispensaries.

Tradition aside, the main appeal of hash is that it produces a vigorously intense high. And what weed lover wouldn’t be down with that? While every hash consumption experience is unique, most people report experiencing a hazier, longer, more drastic high from smoking hash as compared to smoking regular flower. Some even claim that visual and audio perceptions are skewed after using hash!

Similar to flower, an indica hash high versus a sativa high are drastically different. Usually, when one smokes an indica-dominant hash, you’ll experience a strong couch-lock effect in your body, as well as cerebral effects. Sativa hash will stimulate your creativity, making you feel more euphoric than ever. Regardless of sativa or indica, though, you’re going to be high as hell.

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How Is Hash Made? Continued…

When hash is made, the oils and trichomes are separated from the bud, leaving behind a brown-green, sticky substance. Depending on the method used to make the hash, the concentrate’s final form can vary from a powder to a rock-like slab.

The different types of hash are each made in a unique way. For example, making a dry, sifted hash is an easy process that most cannabis consumers can do. All it requires is some bud, a few screens to sift the bud, and something to catch the falling trichomes. This is a quick way of making hash at home. Here are more detailed instructions if you’re so inclined.

Another option is making bubble hash. This process is significantly more complex, but can produce some of the highest-quality hash around. In fact, most of the hash in America (if you can find it!) is bubble hash. If you’re interested in a step-by-step walk-through on doing it at home, you can find that here.

Beyond what you can do yourself, other types of hash take significantly more time and experience to create. Royal Afghani Hash, for example, is made with water or tea, and is typically molded into slabs. Lebanese Hash is even more difficult to make, as its creation process takes several seasons. These other variations of hash are sometimes difficult to find, but if you’re lucky, you can purchase a slab at your favorite licensed dispensary.

1565827368861_beUNZP5.jpg

How Do You Smoke Hash?

Most tokers enjoy adding little pieces of hash directly to their bowls or joints, creating an all-encompassing high. Hash can also be dabbed, but it can seriously taint your rig: hash usually leaves a chunky, sticky residue on dab nails due to its plant components — mainly waxes and leafy particles.

Gallery — The Stoners of Antiquity:

TLDR

Hash is a potent, OG form of cannabis concentrate that’s less and less common at a time when dabs, waxes, budders, and shatters are omnipresent. But the cannabis of antiquity won’t be forgotten by veteran weed lovers, especially those who appreciate artisanal, craft cannabis. Sure, the days of hot knives are well behind us — but hash will never be forgotten!

Original Post: Merry Jane: What Is Hash and What Makes It So Sticky?

Stoned Sex: Why Growing Weed Can Be Incredibly Therapeutic for Sexual Assault Survivors

Stoned Sex: Why Growing Weed Can Be Incredibly Therapeutic for Sexual Assault Survivors

Original Post: Merry Jane: Stoned Sex: Why Growing Weed Can Be Incredibly Therapeutic for Sexual Assault Survivors

[Canniseur: The consequences of sexual assault can be long lasting. PTSD becomes a big part of survival. This article explores surviving PTSD by using, and especially growing, cannabis. Growing and gardening provides its own rhythm and peace to victims of sexual assault.]

Welcome back to Stoned Sex, the column where I’ll be exploring the intersection of sex and sativas, intercourse and indicas, often through first-hand experience and interviews with experts.

For this week’s edition, we’ll be discussing PTSD from sexual assault and how growing your own cannabis can be a useful tool for addressing symptoms and aiding with recovery. Stoned Sex will be running every other week, so make sure to stay tuned for the next dose.

* Names in this story have been changed to protect anonymity

It doesn’t matter how much you love the person. Sometimes certain words, sexual acts, or touching will send a sexual assault survivor right back to the scene of the incident.

Once you’ve been assaulted, you live in a state of constant vigilance, always ready for an attack. You don’t feel safe in your own body, so sometimes you disassociate. You want to relax and enjoy your partner going down on you. But instead, you’re disconnected from your body floating in the corner of the room. You’re trying to escape the vivid flashbacks that play like a movie of your assaulter performing the same act against your will. Panic rises in your chest until it feels like you’ve swallowed flames. Eventually, you stop trying to power through it — and you try not to feel defeated.

Survivors deserve to enjoy consensual sex, but their bodies tells them otherwise. The symptoms of PTSD occur after an assault and can feel like they’re draining the life from you. Thankfully, many survivors use cannabis for relief. They can also find healing through mindfulness activities, such as gardening. Combining the two has a whole host of benefits for assault survivors, including connecting to their medicine, sharing it with others, and saving money — all of which induce mindfulness.

Growing Your Own Plants Grounds You in the Moment

Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment. Meditation and yoga, or anything that helps you be (and stay) present in your body, helps trigger this type of grounded awareness, which is why it’s beneficial to those with PTSD.

According to somatic psychologist and sex therapist Dr. Holly Richmond, gardening is an established tool that helps people get back into the moment and connect with the Earth. Using your senses helps you root: The feel and touch of dirt, the smell of fresh air and soil, and the sounds of nature all act as an anchor to keep you existing in the now.

“It’s all about being present in the moment,” said Dr. Richmond. “So much of my work with survivors is about moving into the present versus holding onto the past or reliving those triggers from the past. Gardening brings us more fully into the moment.”

Growing not only helps tether your feelings and thoughts, but it’s also the best way to ensure clean and safe access to medicine — medicine you grew.

“My garden is my sanctuary,” said Kristina Gandy, a grower and sexual assault survivor who has PTSD. “I’d go down there, and I’d tend to [the plants]. I’d sing, smoke, and hang out with the girls. Just being in the room — even if I wasn’t smoking — would make me feel better. Watching them grow from clones or little tiny seeds into these beautiful giant plants of medicine is the most incredible thing.”

Mindfulness aside, however, cultivating your own medicine is also a visual barometer for tracking your healing. “There’s something tangible you can see about moving from survivor to thriver when growing a plant,” Dr. Richmond said. “You have a little seed in the ground, and you’re nurturing it and growing it into something different than it was before, and for every survivor that’s part of what our goal is.”

The goal is not for survivors to forget or undo what happened. Rather, it’s to carry on with life without flashbacks (and other symptoms) becoming debilitating. “It’s about reframing the trauma,” Dr. Richmond explained, “and telling that narrative in a different way.”

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It’s Physical and Connects You to a Greater Cause 

A common symptom of PTSD from sexual assault is dissociation, in which the survivor will mentally check out and leave their body. It’s a coping mechanism, and one that might have been used to survive abuse. But it can prevent survivors from fully experiencing life after the abuse is over.

Unfortunately, research on cannabis and PTSD symptoms is limited due to federal laws. But in addition to anecdotal evidence gathered from patients, research suggests that weed can reduce PTSD symptoms, including the nauseating ones of dissociation. Others report that cannabis makes dissociation worse, however. That’s why it’s so important for patients to have access to different strains and intake methods to find what works for them. The benefit of home growing gives you direct access to the plant, and you’re not limited to what’s available at the dispensary (or from your dealer).

“When I began cultivating cannabis, I slowly became more grounded in myself,” said Reba*, a professional cannabis farmer who’s been cultivating for 20 years and is also a sexual assault survivor. “In the act of cultivating, you’re moving your body and being physical when it’s hard to find any peace in your world.”

Research shows that cardiovascular exercise helps with PTSD treatment because it reduces symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. Growing not only gets the body moving, but it also helps survivors feel less alone.

“If survivors have the opportunity to get their hands into the earth, they have a better chance of remembering that they are not alone,” said Dr. Denise Renye, a renowned psychologist and sexologist. “It will hopefully remind them that they are part of something much greater than themselves, and that they are part of the Earth. It decreases isolation, allows for greater somatic awareness, embodiment, and provides a space for possibility.”

This sense of connection heightens when survivors can share their medicine with others. “Tending to these plants is not just participating in the healing of yourself,” said Reba. “What you’re doing is participating in the healing of others who are going to connect with the plant that’s been with us for over 10,000 years.”

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Home Growing Is Practical for Survivors

Survivors don’t need to work as professional cannabis farmers to share their plants with others, however. When Grady, a California home grower, finished cultivating her first crop, she shared it with friends, family, and other survivors she knew who also struggle with PTSD. She’s fortunate to live in California, a state that permits the sharing of homegrown pot without monetary exchange. But “sharing” laws vary across the US. For instance, you can give up to 2.5 ounces away in Michigan, but in California, you can only gift up to one ounce of cannabis at a time.

Massachusetts also operates under the one-ounce “sharing” rule, where Shanel Lindsay, a social equity advocate and founder of Ardent, is based. Lindsay was once arrested for growing her own medicine in Massachusetts. That’s why she diligently fights for others’ right to grow. “People love to share the wealth within the growing community,” said Lindsay, “meaning people will give cuts of rare strains and things that would not be commercially viable.”

Lindsay began growing four different strains: Girl Scout Cookies for a high-THC option; Cherry OG for a balanced hybrid; Critical Mass for an anti-anxiety CBD strain; and Bubba Kush for nighttime relaxation. While she loves them all, she says Cherry OG is best for daytime use. Plus, PTSD management generally works best with strains that treat symptoms and don’t totally knock you out. That’s why hybrids like Cherry OG make sense.

In addition to its therapeutic values, growing your own cannabis is simply more affordable. “Dispensaries can be very, very expensive, especially in very tightly regulated environments,” Lindsay said. “When you see growing communities form, what you see is that there’s very little expense around getting the plant.”

Even in legal states, black market cannabis continues to thrive. Who wants to pay $80 for an eighth of legal herb when cultivating at home can cut the cost by 80 percent? While the initial startup (and maintenance!) cost can be pricey upfront, once you’re up and running, the price point of using cannabis drops significantly.

States with medical marijuana programs require that patients have a cannabis card, which can cost anywhere between $30-$150 — sometimes more. People also often have to hand over sensitive, personal information.

Such hoops can be especially burdensome for people of color, LGBTQ+, and lower income communities, who face higher levels of persecution. These marginalized groups are also at higher risk for sexual assault than others.

“What we don’t want is to make people who have already been victimized be victims again and restrict their access [to medicine],” Lindsay said. “The easiest, best, and most private way to go about that is growing on your own.”

Not every sexual assault survivor who uses cannabis for PTSD can grow their own weed, and not everyone wants to. However, all cannabis users should educate themselves on local grow laws. If it’s an option, know that you have the power to create your own medicine.

“You get to pick your strains. You get to watch your medicine grow. You don’t have to depend on somebody else,” Grady said. “When the plant blossoms, we get to reap the benefits of Mother Nature.” Sometimes, those benefits can help us in more ways than one.

Follow Sophie Saint Thomas on Twitter

Original Post: Merry Jane: Stoned Sex: Why Growing Weed Can Be Incredibly Therapeutic for Sexual Assault Survivors

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