Most of us know it as the ingredient that gets us high, but it goes much deeper than that. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is a psychoactive compound, but its chemical makeup is quite similar to that of CBD. In some users, THC affects memory, thinking, movement, coordination, concentration, and time perception, among other qualities. For those reasons, it may be dangerous to drive or operate heavy machinery while using products containing THC. The compound’s stigma is largely undeserved, as it shows promise as a treatment for PTSD, epilepsy, depression, and eating disorders.
Cannabidiol or CBD is a compound derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, otherwise known as hemp or marijuana. This natural compound is often used in edibles, oils, and other products to provide consumers with feelings of calm and relaxation. Unlike its chemical cousin, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, cannabidiol is non-psychoactive.
This is another non-psychoactive compound, but it differs from cannabidiol in that it’s found in greater concentrations when marijuana products age. While smoking “old weed” may be an undesirable prospect to some, others seek it out just to take advantage of CBN’s effects. Studies show that CBN has antibacterial properties; it’s been tested on several strains of resistant MRSA. In the future, this compound may be used to fight off infections that other antibiotics cannot heal.
CBG or cannabigerol is just one of over 120 natural cannabinoids found in whole plants. It was first found in 1964, and though research is still in preliminary stages, it suggests that CBG has considerable therapeutic properties. CBG’s analgesic aspects may exceed those of THC without the euphoric effects. Furthermore, there’s evidence that suggests CBG may offer antibacterial, anticancer, and antidepressant qualities.
Another non-intoxicating compound with significant anti-inflammatory aspects, CBC or cannabichromene bonds to the TRPA1 receptors found in the human endocannabinoid system. Produced in a cannabis plant’s trichomes, CBC may also have antibacterial properties.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the most well-known compounds found in cannabis, we’ll delve into the world of terpenes.
What Are Terpenes?
Terpenes are compounds found in many plants, including cannabis. Not only do they give these plants their distinctive aroma, they offer protection from herbivores and they attract pollinating insects. Some plants have several terpenes, but cannabis has over 120! They’re found in the crystalline hairs that cover good buds. If you’ve ever used the word “dank” to refer to weed, it means that its terpene content has made it pungent and fresh.
What in Cannabis Makes You Sleepy?
Herbal remedies containing myrcene have long been used as sleep aids. Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes in commercially available cannabis, making up more than 20% of the terpene profile of the average strain. Also found in plants such as lemongrass, basil, and thyme, this sleep-inducing botanical is thought to increase the “couch lock” effect of indica-dominant strains.
What in Cannabis Makes You Hungry?
Another cannabinoid called b-caryophyllene is found in spices, herbs, and even cannabis plants. It’s known for its sharp, woods, and peppery aroma, as well as its anti-anxiety and gastrointestinal protective effects. If you’ve ever had a case of the munchies after smoking a joint, it’s likely due to the presence of b-caryophyllene.
What in Cannabis Makes You Energized?
This cannabinoid gives weed its energetic effects, and it’s commonly found in strains such as Dutch Treat, Orange Haze, and Jack Herer. Though terpinolene has sedative effects when taken alone, those effects are negated when it’s ingested along with THC. If you’re looking for an uplifting high, choose a strain that’s high in terpinolene.
What in Cannabis Makes You Relaxed?
As many consumers already know, cannabis is an excellent natural treatment for anxiety. Fewer people know why this is the case, or which chemicals imbue the herb with its reputation for providing relaxation and calm. Limonene is one such terpene. It’s known to treat anxiety and depression, as well as restlessness and paranoia.
These terpenes, among others, will help bring feelings of relaxation, calm, appetite stimulation, and overall well-being. Next, we’ll cover the stages in the cannabis life cycle.
Basic Stages of Cannabis Growth
Cannabis plants go through several stages as they develop, and each stage calls for a different amount of water, light, and nutrients. It’s important to learn about these stages and their duration to determine what your plants need and when they need it.
Like most other plants, the life cycle of a cannabis plant starts with a seed. Cannabis seeds should feel dry and hard and they should be brown in color. Underdeveloped seeds are typically soft and white, and they are unlikely to germinate. Once the seed has sprouted or germinated, it’s ready to be put into soil or another growth medium. In most cases, seeds will germinate within three to ten days.
When cannabis plants become seedlings, they tend to develop distinctive fan leaves. Mature plants usually have five to seven blades on each leaf, but some cannabis plants may have more. The seedling stage starts about two to three weeks after germination takes place.
The vegetative stage is when growth really starts. By this time, the plants have been moved into bigger pots and their foliage and roots are growing quickly. This is the right time to start training or topping your plants, but it’s important to water them more as they develop. If you need to separate plants by gender to prevent accidental pollination, they’ll start to show sex characteristics a few weeks into the vegetative stage.
This is the final growth stage a cannabis plant goes through. Here, the plants start to grow sticky buds and all your hard work will pay off. The flowering stage usually starts about eight to 11 weeks after germination, unless a plant is forced to stay in the vegetative stage. Flowering occurs when outdoor crops receive less light as fall comes, but an indoor grower can replicate the results by manipulating the plants’ light cycle. Once the plants’ buds have matured, it’s time to harvest them.
To have a successful harvest, you’ll need to know the date the plants entered the flowering stage. Flowering times vary by strain, and it’s important to get the timing as close as possible. For instance, indica-dominant strains may finish as soon as eight weeks after flowering starts, while sativa-dominant varieties may require up to 24 weeks in some cases.
Drying and Curing
Proper drying and curing allow users to store their cannabis for longer without worrying about lost cannabinoids or mold growth. Cured flower can be stored in airtight containers in a dark place for about two years without losing potency. There are numerous curing methods, such as dry ice, water, and freeze dry curing, but most home growers prefer the sealed container method because it’s the easiest.
Where Can You Grow Cannabis in the USA?
While the rules and regulations vary by state, almost all states with marijuana legalization initiatives allow some form of at-home cultivation. Even though it’s legal in some places, though, many people aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity because they believe it’s too difficult. In this part of the guide, we’ll discuss how easy it is to grow weed indoors and outdoors.
When growing marijuana indoors, one of the most important things is to ensure that the space is clean and sanitized. Messy spaces encourage the growth of mold, bacteria, and other harmful pathogens, but a bi-weekly cleaning with a wet microfiber cloth will keep them off hard surfaces. Cannabis plants tend to absorb everything around them, whether it’s in the soil or the air. By keeping the area around your plants clean, you’ll keep contaminants out.
Many new cannabis cultivators choose to grow their crops in soil for simplicity’s sake. Soil has organic and mineral content that’s hard to duplicate with other methods, and many growers add nutrient-laden materials such as manure and earthworm castings to their soil as an enhancement.
On the other hand, hydroponic gardening takes away much of the unpredictability associated with growing cannabis in soil. In a hydroponic garden, the roots of the plants are in continuous contact with a water-based solution to which nutrients are sometimes added. In a hydroponic cannabis garden, the grower has more control over the results.
Outdoor cannabis growers use Nature’s best offerings to produce high-quality crops. Many enthusiasts agree that the best weed they’ve ever enjoyed is grown outdoors in natural light. The full spectrum of sunlight creates a wider range of terpenes and cannabinoids than indoor grow lighting, which is often used to produce products with high THC content.
Though marijuana has been grown outdoors for centuries, it’s still a complex process. Before planting seedlings in the ground, in pots, or in a greenhouse, it’s best to learn how the cultivation process works and about the conditions required for successful growth. Growing cannabis outdoors is a great choice for new cultivators and those seeking a more natural crop. Outdoor gardening is cost-efficient, as it requires few environmental controls and other resources.
Advanced Growing Techniques for Cannabis
Once you’ve mastered the basics of cultivation, it’s time to move on to bigger and better things. Here, we’ll offer a few advanced cannabis growing techniques.
SCROG or screen of green is a plant training technique that helps indoor growers maximize light usage and the number of colas or top buds the plants produce. A single plant left to grow on its own will likely develop one central bud, but with this technique each branch will develop into a cola.
In this technique, the grower places a screen about 15” above the plants. Once the plants’ branches have grown through the screen, they’re bent and tied to it, which trains them to grow outward rather than upward. The screen of green technique is a relatively low-stress option for new and experienced growers alike, and it’s a great way to maximize the yield of a small garden.
Also known as sea of green, SOG is a way to force cannabis plants to flower at an early age, or about two weeks into the vegetative stage. The SOG method allows growers to harvest their crops earlier than if the plants had been grown normally. It’s great for small grow rooms as it allows you to maximize the space without sacrificing crop yields.
When the plants are forced into the flowering stage via a 12/12 light cycle, SOG allows you to fit more plants into a smaller space. Though individual plants’ yields may decrease slightly, the garden’s cumulative yield will be larger and it will come sooner. Though certain strains take more than ten weeks to get through the vegetative stage, the SOG method makes it possible to increase harvest frequency and crop size.