All posts by bccannabis

Michigan medical cannabis grower and patient with a passion for writing and learning about weed and its growing culture.

My Personal Germination Method

Throughout the cultivation process, every grower uses their own unique technique in the way that they care for their plants.  There are a ton of paths one can take to end up with a premium grade harvest.  The germination stage is just one step in that process and there are also a variety of unique ways this stage can be initiated by the grower.  Like most new growers, when I first started I went with one of the more popular methods using paper towels.  There is no doubt plenty of growers who have had success using this technique, but I still would not recommend pursuing it unless you have a lot of time on your hands.

The paper towel method involves placing one or more cannabis seeds between a few moist paper towels and placing it in a dark area of the house.  It seems that the main issue with this strategy is the fact that paper towels are very absorbent by nature and will not stay moist for a long period of time.  So unless you are able to dampen the paper towels every few hours, the environment will be far to dry for the taproot to emerge.  Remember that moisture and darkness are the two key environmental factors that a seed needs in order to start germination.  Another reason I avoid the paper towel method is that the taproots are extremely delicate and can be exposed to potential damage when transplanted to the growing medium.  Taproots are the foundation of your plant’s structure and should not be touched or exposed outside of the soil.

The number one method I have had the most success with and find the easiest is germinating directly in the soil or another preferred growing medium.  It’s simplistic, but every time I have tried it with healthy seeds a stem broke the surface just 5-6 days after planting.  Make sure that the seed is not too deep below the surface of the soil.  This is a common mistake and for whatever reason people assume the seed should be a half inch or deeper into the dirt. Ideally, there should only be a 1/4 inch of space or a sprinkled amount of soil covering the seed.  It’s important to keep a thin layer of growing medium above the plant so that moisture is still present and it also won’t take too long to break the surface once sprouted.  Leave 7 days time before digging up the seed to see what is causing it not to sprout.  Patience is key and checking on its status too early could damage the taproot and potentially kill your plant before it can even grow.

There is some disagreement among growers about when exactly a planted seed should be exposed to a light source.  I would argue from experience that the seed will sprout just fine without any light.  The optimal time to turn on the light would be right after the main stem becomes visible above the soil.  This is when the plant will need UV rays in order to continue to grow more sets of leaves and stronger roots.  Others have claimed using a light before the seed sprouts add heat to the process which helps speeds it up.  In my opinion, if you can’t wait 4-7 days for a sprout then growing isn’t the hobby for you.  Either way, the best type of light to use for the beginning of the seedling stage is CFLs or Compact Fluorescent Lights.  They generally have the spiral design and do not generate much heat which is perfect.  Young plants shouldn’t be exposed to high wattage lighting because it will be overwhelming and can drastically stunt growth.  It’s best to change the light type after the seedling stage has passed and there are several sets of mature leaves and branches.

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Michigan Increases it’s Number of Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana

Yesterday was a major victory for patients suffering from a variety of serious diseases in Michigan.  People who couldn’t qualify to use marijuana legally either risked prosecution or continued to use less effective pharmecutical drugs.  The existing list before the change took effect only included eight conditions.  They more than doubled that list by adding 10 new qualifying conditions that a physician can legally recommend marijuana for.  The old list included cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Chron’s disease, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Now protection will be expanded to those suffering from arthritis, autism, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injury, Tourette’s syndrome, and colitis.  I would expect to see an explosion in the number of registered patients in my state as a result of this change.  The number of people who have one of these new conditions is enormous, but many will not take advantage of the expanded coverage.

I think that the most noticeable difference will be an increase in the amount of elderly medical marijuana users.  One of the key conditions that now qualifies is arthritis.  This disease is more common among the older generation and its addition to the list will likely attract some senior citizens.  I also believe that with the success of marijuana legalization across the country and in Canada, more people will be questioning their negative attitude surrounding the plant.  When I have visited local dispensaries rarely did I see anyone over the age of 65 in there.  However, this is likely because they have registered caregivers that grow or acquire their medicine for them so they don’t have to travel.  This age group is generally known for their opposition to drugs that have been illegal their entire lives.  Those facing old age are the ones who need cannabis the most and hopefully, these new conditions will lead more elderly patients to try alternative medicine.

There seems to only be positive results when more conditions are allowed to be treated using marijuana.  If I were to write the law it wouldn’t be a list of qualifying conditions, but rather discretion would be given to physicians. They should be able to recommend marijuana whenever they feel it could positively benefit their patient.  Leaving it up to the government to decide what conditions should qualify doesn’t make sense.  Doctors are the ones who have the most knowledge regarding the side effects of diseases and are familiar with each patient’s unique scenario.  Either way, there will be a noticeable growth in the economy of medical marijuana businesses in order to meet the demand of more registered patients.  More jobs are going to come to the state if recreational marijuana passes in November and now we don’t need to wait until then.  Dispensaries and cultivation facilities will need additional help and more new facilities will probably start springing up as well.

Compared to other states medical marijuana programs, Michigan is definitely blessed.  Looking at Ohio cities banning home cultivation or other states like Texas only allowing CBD oil for seizures makes our laws feel relaxed.  We pretty much lie right in the middle of the spectrum of marijuana enforcement.  There are lots of dispensaries to shop from across the state but only in large cities like Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, and a few others.  For people who live far away from these areas, their selection is limited to the black market or what they themselves can grow.  At least these patients are still being provided protection from the law despite accessibility issues.  Ten years down the line I envision Michigan’s marijuana industry to be developed like the west coast currently is.  We are just a little behind the marijuana pioneers but still on the right track.

Growing Buds with Noticeable Flavor

Outside of paying close attention to your plant throughout its entire lifecycle, there are two specific stages that a grower can strategically use to maximize the flavor of their harvests.  They include the flushing period that makes up the last two weeks of the crop’s flowering cycle and the final step to the process, curing.  It blows my mind when growers spend 5 months or more of their time and effort growing their plants but then destroy their crops flavor by failing to flush nutrients out of the buds.  This causes an extremely harsh taste that will likely mask any flavor that your crop may have contained.  Not only will there be no taste, but you’ll likely find yourself coughing much more than normal.  People new to marijuana or occasional users may not notice any differences because they likely find any smoke to be harsh.  It takes some experience to differentiate from batch to batch which still contain nutrients.  Another way to tell if weed has been properly flushed outside of the taste is to look at the ashes.  If they are completely black and do not contain any white coloring, that is indicative of a poor flush.

There are a few easy steps a grower can take to avoid any issues with nutrient build up.  The most important thing is not to get caught up in abnormally fast growth that results from feeding the plants too much at a time or too frequently.  Do not get impatient with your garden and give it the required time it needs to grow at a healthy, natural rate.  Otherwise, you will be dealing with nutrient burn or best case scenario, some large plump buds that burn extremely harsh.  Cannabis should be given just water for a complete two weeks at the end of its growing cycle.  If you were using the correct amount of nutrients throughout the process, this is an adequate amount of time to ensure great flavor and a smooth smoke.  However, if you were just boosting your plants with as many nutrients as possible, then flushing all that out will be very tricky.  Cutting out a plants nutrients before the final two weeks could really impact the bud production negatively.  It’s extremely important that during weeks 5-7 the plants are absorbing a lot of phosphorous so giving them just water is not a good plan.

Just like following a proper flushing technique it’s also super easy to correctly cure your buds.  This is where a grower’s patience is really going to be tested.  There is nothing like having smokeable buds lying around that you must resist breaking into.  The difference between cannabis that has just finished drying and one that has been placed in jars for weeks, is night and day.  You won’t gain any weight to your buds over time but the flavor and scent profile will be recognizable.  I would argue that they also gain potency throughout the curing process.  The buds are still maturing just like they do as you progress through the flowering period of growth.  The texture and taste change and bud that has been cured always has a stronger scent.  So I would bet there is going to be some maturing in the potency from my personal experience.  Even if it didn’t increase the strength of the weed it is worthwhile to wait it out for 2 weeks.  For the first week be sure to burp the jars for 10 minutes of open time a day.  For the second and following weeks just leave the jars closed.  I usually always break into my stash after 2 weeks, but if you want to wait longer, it is supposed to get even better with time.

 

Arizona Marijuana Initiative will not make the 2018 Ballot

The state of Arizona has not had much luck when it comes to passing marijuana laws.  Despite their geographic location putting them close to many states that have progressive weed laws, they still only permit those with qualifying medical conditions to indulge.  Nevada, California, and Colorado all allow different legal protections for those older than 21, with some minor differences in what exactly is allowed.  This week on July 5th, was the deadline for The Safer Arizona Cannabis Legalization Act to submit the required amount of signatures to qualify for the ballot.  Altogether they were able to collect just over 75,000 but the requirement calls for over 150,000.  So this initiative missed by a long shot.  This is extremely disappointing news and yet another heartbreak for those living there.  Just two years back in 2016, a similar initiative had qualified for the ballot but narrowly failed to receive the popular vote.  The opposition received more funding than those supporting legalization and it had a major effect.  One of the largest donors was Insys Therapeutics a company that produces synthetic painkillers.  The pharmaceutical companies have no shame in admitting with their large contributions that they don’t want their drugs to be replaced by something they can not sell and is also not physically addictive.

These large contributions from companies help spread a lot of misinformation about the post-legalization effects that have yet to happen in the 9 states that have legalized it.  While different businesses have targeted every single state that has successfully got an initiative on a ballot, they have had very little success outside the state of Arizona recently.  Within the past four years, the only other legal marijuana ballot initiative to fail was in 2014 when Florida tried to pass medical marijuana.  Many attribute that failure to the high supermajority requirement of 60%.  It narrowly missed it with a 57.6% approval vote.  These opponents should stop wasting their money on funding the opposition and use it to innovate and react to the change in the economic environment.  It should make it easier for them to do so considering people are being thrown in jail and having their future destroyed as a result of their contributions.

This year it seems it should have been easier to reach success considering as more time goes on more people seem to join the marijuana movement.  The group collecting signatures, Safer Arizona, claims that the main reason they were not much able to get support was medical marijuana dispensary owners.  I believe there are plenty of dispensary owners out there who might not want recreational marijuana to pass yet so that they can cash in as long as possible.  However, I also know there are plenty of dispensary owners who can’t wait for legalization because that would give them the opportunity to apply for a license and expand to a larger market with an advantage of already having a location and experience.  It would not be easy for dispensaries to convince patients at their stores and other people they know to keep weed illegal and have people continue to get prosecuted for possession.  This ballot failure more than likely came down to the group doing a poor job of hiring volunteers or targetting the right locations for signatures.  Polls nationwide have shown over 60% of the population wants weed to be legal for adults.  There simply is no excuse for them to fail to meet even half the required number of signatures.  Hopefully in the future, a more organized campaign can spread the word more efficiently and develop a more solid framework for the bill.

FDA gives Approval to CBD based Epidiolex Drug

The drug that was given approval this week, is a liquid medicine treatment derived from CBD-dominant strains that have been cultivated by GW Pharmaceuticals.  There have been sufficient clinical trials to prove that it significantly reduces the number of seizures suffered by epileptic patients.  Nothing related to the cannabis plant has ever come close to approval from an entity as important as the FDA.  The closest thing to marijuana that has been approved by the FDA is a synthetic version of THC called dronabinol.  It is a man-made version of tetrahydrocannabinol and is not derived from any natural plants.  Its prescribed to cancer patients suffering from nausea as a result of chemotherapy.  This ruling is a much larger step in the right direction because in order for it to be marketed to patients with Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, it must be rescheduled by the DEA.  CBD still currently holds a schedule 1 status preventing it from being prescribed to patients.  The Drug Enforcement Agency is expected to do so within 90 days due to the scientific confirmation of its effectiveness through numerous trials.

I believe this is going to start a wave of cannabis-based medicines being introduced into the pharmaceutical environment.  People are going to see the acceptance of Epidiolex as an open door to try and treat other ailments using derivatives from the plant.  The Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies can not make money off something that can be grown from a seed so none of these medicines will be cannabis in its natural form.  In the case of epileptic patients, especially children, smoking the buds from plants is not a viable option.  Children suffering from these awful diseases will no longer have to fear criminal punishment on top of trying to just live a somewhat functional life.  Patients suffering from Dravet Syndrome have an average life expectancy of 8 years (National Institute of Health).

The other disease that this drug can soon be prescribed for is Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.  According to the LGS Foundation, one clinical trial at New York University showed a 47% of patients showed a 50% reduction in seizures after 3 months of treatment.  It’s also important to mention that 9% of these people were actually seizure free at that time frame.  This is just incredible that it is actually eliminating seizures altogether for certain patients.  Results like these are backed up by many other studies that show even higher numbers of participants seeing a large reduction in the number of their seizures. The DEA should see rescheduling CBD as a number one priority for these children.  With limited years to live and any seizure having the potential to be their last, officials need to act fast to provide a reliable source of the medication.  It will be treated like any other prescribed drug and can be picked up from local pharmacies, not compassion centers or dispensaries.

Traditional medical marijuana dispensaries offer a variety of extracts that could work well with seizures as well.  The only difference is they have not been given the attention from government officials that Epidiolex received likely due to its non-psychoactive properties and its easy to use liquid consistency.  Patients will be able to ingest the medicine by the use of a dropper for precise dosing.  This can be done anywhere without drawing any attention that smoking marijuana brings.  It’s also possible that there will be additional medical uses approved by the FDA for this exact same drug with no chemical changes being made.  Its unique features give it a higher potential of being approved than other new and existing marijuana medicines that may be tested by the FDA.

Canadian Senate Legalizes Marijuana

Smoking, possessing, and growing cannabis will no longer be a criminal offense across the nation of Canada thanks to the approval of a legalization bill by the Senate this past Tuesday.  The bill passed with a vote of 52-29.  As of today, the bill has been given royal assent, the final step in the Canadian legislative process.  While it is officially passed, the law does not take effect until October 17th so don’t become careless and be aware you can still be charged with a crime.  The regulation of cannabis will be done in a much different way then it has been done in individual U.S. states.  One of these differences is the minimum age required to legally consume and purchase the plant.  The federal government has set the age at 18, but provinces can set some of their own unique rules and many are expected to add another year to that federal requirement.  Canadian officials argue that setting the age too high will encourage many young adults who will use cannabis regardless to seek out their weed from the black market.  Youth consumption rates in Canda are among the highest in the world, and they believe that setting a similar age to the states will only encourage criminal organizations.

When it comes to possession limits the maximum amount a person can possess is 30 grams.  While an oz is a decent amount for personal use, setting magical limits is kind of a ridiculous practice.  You aren’t allowed to only have 30 cans of beer per person.  Every state so far has also set their own unique limits in the U.S.  The cool thing about the legislation in Canada is there is no possession limit within a private dwelling.  This is a key addition to the law because growing the 4 allowed plants will provide much more than 30 grams of usable cannabis and that’s not taking into consideration leftovers from the last harvest.

Another aspect of the law that makes it unique is the idea of mail order weed.  This is already a practice in the medical marijuana industry for registered patients.  Soon it will become available for recreational users as well.  To protect against youth accessing marijuana, it will not be delivered unless someone is home and able to show I.D. for the package.  There aren’t any specific details regarding how much can be ordered at a time but it can be assumed that it’s the possession limit of 30 grams.  It will be interesting to see how popular this method of purchase will become in comparison to the retail shops that will also be dispensing marijuana.  The convenience of a quick delivery could cause the same problems Amazon has caused for retail shopping giants.

Altogether the Parliment did a good job drafting a well thought out piece of legislation.  They thought about many different factors when drafting the rules with the main one being protecting the youth.  Limiting advertising and lowering the legal age of consumption are just two of the steps they have taken to eliminate the damage from years of prohibition.  The only thing that wasn’t mentioned in the bill that I would have liked to see included would be the expungement of records for those previously convicted of cannabis possession or cultivation crimes.  This will likely be something that happens in the future after the law takes effect but it is a crucial step nonetheless.

Chocolope Strain Report

When I think of strains that are always in rotation at local medical marijuana gardens, one that quickly comes to mind is Chocolope.  This sativa is not hybrid-like in its effects at all.  Its genetics come from two parents who are known for having clear energetic highs.  Chocolate Thai was bred with Cannalope Haze to create this patient favorite.  From the growers’ point of view, it is a great choice because it has a short flowering period of around 9 weeks.  That time period is more common in indica strains that grow short and bushy.  Leave space in the grow room because the branches will grow tall and reach high come flowering season.  It has all the characteristics people expect out of a sativa besides a quicker harvest.

The buds are relatively dense but not to the degree of a kush strain or something like Green Crack.  The name fits perfectly because in my experience those buds are usually as heavy as rocks.  The potency is everything you could ask for and it is astonishing to me how I can stay motivated in this state of mind.  I also noticed that I can still use it after a long day at work to unwind and easily fall asleep, while other times my mind will run for hours with a sativa.  Opening up a jar results in a very sweet coffee-like scent, which I find hilarious.  Matching up the scent of the bud with another stimulating drug is a perfect way to show the consumer what they’re in for effect wise.  A lot of times its easy to tell what the flavor might be like based on scent, but this is next level.  Flavor isn’t so much coffee-like, but it has more of an earthy piney taste.  My grower hasn’t gotten the medicine tested for cannabinoid percentages but based on experience and the degree of trichome coverage, it won’t disappoint when it does.

When it comes to medical uses, I would say it shouldn’t be the first choice for those trying to alleviate pain.  That is unless the pain originates in the head due to migraines or another condition.  There are other strains that do a better job of relaxing the entire body and removing painful discomfort.  It is very uplifting in even small doses so someone with depression could greatly benefit from using Chocolope.  It worked great for me when I was under lots of stress in college worrying too much about deadlines and performance.  I would highly recommend students to use this strain during their daily routine because they can lower anxiety levels without losing the drive to get things done.  Food definitely tastes great like with all types of weed, but this one isn’t anywhere near the strongest of appetite stimulators available to those struggling to eat food regularly.  This strain will always be one of my go-to strains for energy for as long as the growing community keeps it around.