Frequently Asked Questions About Marijuana Use
Q: Is marijuana addictive?
A: The definition of addiction is “A compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance”. It is possible to develop a psychological addiction to most things that are taken to excess, however cannabis is not physically addictive, although it is accepted that in some cases a psychological
Dependence can occur in heavy to chronic users. Among marijuana users it is relatively rare, although few users develop dependence, some do.
But they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs.” Even heavy cannabis users wont suffer withdrawal as is the case with alcohol, hard drugs and prescription medicines.
Chronic users who stop using cannabis report experiencing irritability, restlessness and find it difficult to sleep for at least a week after discontinuing use.
Q: Does using cannabis lead to harder drug use?
A: There is no evidence that cannabis leads to hard drug use. According to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicines 1999 report, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base:
“There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs. There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular physiological effect.”
This presentation presents irrefutable evidence that pot is not dangerous and shows how ridiculous the War on Drugs as a whole is.
Cannabis is one of the safest medicines available.
There has never been a single recorded fatality in over 5000 years of known human use.
Q: Is marijuana more dangerous than tobacco?
A: Cannabis is not more dangerous than tobacco. Research shows that daily cannabis smoking does not lead to increased rates of respiratory illness.
Unlike tobacco, research has never shown that cannabis increases rates of lung cancer or other cancers usually associated with cigarette smoking. In May 2006, Dr. Donald Tashkin of UCLA presented results of a new study showing that even chronic marijuana smokers had no increased risk of lung cancer.
Q: What are the different strains of cannabis?
A: There are three distinct types of cannabis plant that are grown for their psychoactive content. These are Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis ruderalis.
The fourth classification is given to what is now referred to as Hemp, this is the name given to non psychoactive cannabis plants that are grown commercially for seeds, oil and fiber.
These plants typically contain around 3% THC content, however, hemp strains have been artificially bred to contain very little cannabinoid content to satisfy the prohibition lobby.
In reality if farmers could grow regular cannabis they would be able to utilize more of the plant and earn extra income from the cannabinoids which could be used as medicine. This would effectively cripple the black market in cannabis as it would be so readily available.
This variety originated from the mountainous regions of Central Asia. Local strains were collected from Kashmir, Pakistan, Northern India and Nepal during the early 1960’s and these native plants became the gene pool for many of today’s varieties. They are characteristically stocky and hardy plants that produce broad, maple like leaves and rarely reach heights in excess of 2m (7ft) outdoors, producing heavy, tight flowers that are high in psychoactive content.
These varieties originate from equatorial regions and can reach heights in excess of 15 ft (4.5m). They produce thin, spiky leaves and massive colas that are not very dense. Cannabis sativa varieties are high in THC content and give the user a more profound and uplifting experience when compared to the more sedative effect experienced when using mainly indica varieties.
This is a debated third variety of cannabis found in Russia, Poland, and other eastern European countries. Schultes classified cannabis as having three species: Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis based on the formation of the seedpods. There is still some debate as to whether there is justification for this third category. Some features of Cannabis ruderalis are large seeds, weedy plants around 150cm (5ft) tall and a lower level of THC than C.sativas or C.indicas.
Q: Is hemp oil the same as cannabis oil
A: No hemp oil is very beneficial and should be used daily by anyone suffering from illness but it does not contain the cannabioids found in cannabis oils that are required to cure cancer and other serious conditions.
Q: Does cannabis smoking damage brain cells?
A: There is some evidence from a study carried out in New Zealand that individuals who smoke cannabis whilst in their teenage years have a lower IQ score in adult life than others who have never used the plant, this suggests that it is not beneficial to use cannabis whilst the brain is still developing.
However, a North American study conducted by think tank Source Watch found a correlation between the smoking of certain sativa strains of cannabis and academic achievement. Use of these sativa strains led to the stimulation of chords within cerebellum which otherwise remain dead throughout daily activity.
Q: I’ve been informed that today’s cannabis strains are stronger and more dangerous?
A: Claims of a dramatic increase in today’s cannabis potency are used by prohibitionists to bolster their dubious case against cannabis use.
The statistic is based on the assertion that cannabis in the 1960’s and 1970’s contained only 1% THC but this makes no sense whatsoever as 1% cannabinoid content would not make the cannabis even slightly psychoactive.
Before cannabis was made illegal, drug stores in the U.S. and Britain sold tinctures of cannabis which were over 40% THC.
It can be argued that in reality there is no increase in potency, more that many modern varieties contain significantly more THC and reduced CBD that has a calming effect on the psychoative high, however THC is not toxic at high doses and modern strains may actually minimize the risk for lung problems because less is required to achieve the desired effects.
The truth is, cannabis has not increased in potency to any great extend, if at all, in the last several hundred years and even if it is shown that today’s cannabis is stronger, it would still not be harmful to the user.
Q: Which medical conditions can cannabis treat?
A: Alcohol and opiate abuse, Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Anorexia nervosa, Loss of appetite,Asthma, Arthritis (rheumatoid or osteo), Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Atherosclerosis (also known as ASVD), Autism, Bipolar disorder, Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis, Depression, Diabetes mellitus, Emphysema, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia (FM or FMS), Glaucoma, Glioma, Hepatitis C, Herpes, High blood pressure, HIV, Huntington’s disease, Incontinence, Insomnia, Leukemia, MRSA, Migraines, Multiple sclerosis, Nausea and vomiting, Osteoporosis, Pain relief (analgesia), Parkinson’s syndrome, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Pregnancy, Pruritus, Psoriasis, Sickle-cell disease, Spinal cord injuries, Tourette syndrome. More information is available on cannabis treatment pages.
Q: What is the best way to use cannabis medicinally?
A: If you are treating a serious illness such as cancer and have access to cannabis oil then this is best taken orally by placing a small amount either under your tongue or inside of the cheek.
It is not advisable to smoke cannabis in tobacco joints for obvious health reasons.
Q: How long is the cannabis growth cycle?
Cannabis is an annual, meaning it germinates, grows, reproduces and dies in one year. It is photosensitive and produces a chemical called phytochrome that enables the plant to measure the amount of light it receives. Flowering is triggered when light exposure reaches 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness. This occurs naturally when winter approaches and the days shorten.
Under artificial lighting this is mirrored by switching the light cycle to a 12 hour regime. Outdoor crops require a full growing season which means they are generally planted out in the spring and harvested mid to end of October, depending on variety. Indoor plants can be manipulated by changing the light cycle and can be flowered after as little as 10 days vegetative growth. The flowering process itself takes approximately 8 weeks once again, depending on variety.
Q: What is the difference between annual and perennial plants?
Annual plants such as cannabis live, reproduce and die in one year. Perennial plants return every year, growing in size and stature until full maturity is reached. Despite cannabis being an annual plant it can be manipulated to regenerate after flowering and therefore it can be argued that it shows some perennial traits.
Q: Which varieties are better suited for indoor cultivation?
Pure sativa varieties grow too tall for successful indoor cultivation, although pruning can reduce the size and shape of these plants, indica and ruderalis grow shorter and yield more. Hybrids combining different traits are ideal for indoor cultivation.
Q: What is the difference between male and female plants?
Cannabis is dioecious, meaning the plant is either male or female. Hermaphrodite plants that exhibit both male and female characteristics can also occur. Only female cannabis plants produce buds. The female calyxes will swell and they are easier to distinguish at a younger age than males. The first female calyxes tend to lack paired pistils, however, they soon appear in abundance.
As soon as you see tiny white hairs appear you can confirm your plant is female.
The exterior surface of the male calyx is covered with non-glandular trichomes. The tiny pollen grains (25 to 30 microns in diameter) are almost round in shape when viewed under a microscope and appear slightly yellow when collected. In order to determine the sex of your plants you need to induce flowering.
Males will begin to form small green, ball like clusters whereas females can be identified by small, white hair like pistils emerging from the top of the calyx. Once identified the females can be reverted to the vegetative state by placing them in a light regime exceeding 18 hours of constant daylight. Males are generally removed and destroyed. Link.
Q: What are Preflowers?
These are located differently to the actual bud sites but can still be a good way of determining gender in advance of the main flower formation, use a magnifying glass or loupe to make a positive identification. The undifferentiated preflowers (primordia) appear along the main stem at the nodes (intersections) and behind the leaf spurs (stipule). Look for general trends in shape and the appearance of two white pistils to indicate a female; who often show one to two weeks before male preflowers, despite the main male flowers appearing before the female.
Q: How do I ensure an all female crop?
Most growers use cuttings taken from a known female mother plant. The cuttings will have identical genetic traits to the mother, ensuring more predictable crops. Seedlings can be sprouted and flowered after a few weeks growth. Once gender has been identified the plants are reverted to the vegetative state. Feminized seeds are a better option.
Q: What are the most common mistakes made by novice growers?
Over watering organic plants is probably the most common mistake. You only need to water when the top 5cm of compost becomes dry to the touch. If your plants appear yellow this is generally an early indicator of over watering. Many novice growers mistake this for nutrient deficiency and apply fertilizers. The second mistake is generally over fertilizing. Hydroponic growers should start their feeding regime at 25% of the manufacturers recommended dilution rates. Work your way up to full strength as the plants develop. Organic growers should also take care when feeding and leach the compost at least every fortnight to prevent nutrient build up.
Q: Is it possible to grow bonsai cannabis plants?
Bonsai is the Japanese art of growing and maintaining miniature trees, primarily hardwood perennials. Cannabis is a soft wooded annual and as such cant be grown as a bonsai in the true sense of the word. Bonsai type cannabis plants can be cultivated by trimming the roots and shoots during vegetative growth. The plant can be flowered when the desired shape has been achieved or used as a mother plant.
Q: What are hybrids?
Cannabis breeder’s will start with homozygous, true breeding strains, that show little variation in traits and characteristic such as size, yield, potency and flavour, these traits and characteristics are called phenotypes. When breeders cross these true breeding strains with other true breeders they produce what are known as heterozygous or hybrid strains. Hybrids will display something called, ‘hybrid vigour’ (heterosis), which is the term used to describe stronger, more vigorous plants created by a fresh combination of different genes.
Homozygous means a true breeding strain. Heterozygous means a hybrid with variation in plants. Phenotypes describes the characteristics of different strains.
F1 hybrid – is the first generation of a cross between any two unrelated seed lines. F1 hybrids are the most desirable crosses and will grow 25% bigger and faster than other crosses, the resultant offspring can be uniform or slightly variable depending on the parent stock used.
F2 hybrid – is the offspring of a cross between two F1 plants. These plants will have more variation than the F1. Out of a pack of 10 seeds, less than half will exhibit traits and characteristics as described by the breeder but they should have similar potency and yield.
How long do seeds remain viable?
If seeds are stored in cool and dry conditions they will have a shelf life of around five years. This can be extended by freezing them, however, as seeds age they become less viable and germination rates fall.
Q: What is the best way to germinate seeds?
There are several ways to successfully germinate seeds. The simplest method is to place the seeds into small pots containing compost or hydroponic medium and water them. Plant the seeds just below the surface, ensuring they are covered. Keep them moist, warm and subject to at least 18 hours of daylight. Some growers like to soak the seeds before planting. Place the jar in a warm place and check the seeds regularly. As soon as the seed appears to crack open it is removed and placed into your chosen growing medium.
Q: Why are my seedlings stretching?
This is primarily due to insufficient light levels, the seedlings are trying to reach the light. If your seedlings have stretched you need to increase the light available and it is better to re-pot the seedling, burying most of the stretched stem. High humidity has also been known to encourage stretching so keep an eye on your humidity levels.
Q: What are the main problems when germinating seeds?
Seedlings can be prone to fungal infections such as damping off, so ensure all equipment is clean and sterile. Keep humidity levels down by not over watering the seedlings. Cannabis is a hardy plant and providing you keep light levels at optimum and ensure fungal infections cant set in you should have few problems.
Q: What is the best method for cloning?
Chose a mother plant that exhibits vigorous growth and is positively identified as a female. Select a lower branch and remove this from the mother plant with a sharp blade or clean scissors. Many growers prefer a blade as scissors can pinch and damage the cut section, however, it doesn’t really affect strike rates. Dip the cutting into a rooting gel and then place it in your well drained medium. As the clone has no roots you need to initially keep it in a humid environment, such as a propagator. It is a good idea to mist the cuttings regularly during the early rooting stage. The cuttings should root in around two weeks.
Q: What is scarification?
The stem of your freshly taken cutting can be scarified to increase the surface area available for root development. The clone shoot is firstly cut at a 45 degree angle and then a sharp blade is used to gently scrape away the outer layer of surface tissue, start at the cut and work up 2cm. This process improves your clones chances of rooting.
Q: Which is better, hydro or organic cultivation?
For novice growers a compost setup is far more forgiving than a complicated hydroponic system and requires less equipment and outlay. Hydroponic growing ensures your plants receive optimum nutrition levels and will maximise your yields but there will be no difference in potency between the two methods.
Novice growers should start with a compost based grow before attempting a hydroponic setup. There is some question about the use of hydroponics with cannabis as unlike other crops it is generally smoked. Many nutrient solutions use aggressive chemicals and there is some concern over chemical residue that may remain in the plant tissue after harvest. There are now some excellent organic based fertilizers available and compost based yields can easily match hydroponic crops.
Q: Which compost should I use?
Commercially available potting composts are inexpensive, pH adjusted and sterilized. Choose a loam-based mixture. If this is not available, a general purpose potting compost will produce good results. Tomatoes have similar nutritional requirements to cannabis, so any compost mixes designed specifically for their cultivation are ideal, including growbags. The John Innes range of potting compost mixes are ideal for cannabis cultivation and come graded between 1 and 3, 1 being for seeds and cuttings, 2 and 3 for maturing plants. There are compost mixes available that are designed specifically for cannabis and although more expensive they do produce good results.
Q: Can I make my own compost?
Compost itself is made from organic materials, kitchen waste, grass trimming etc, that have been broken down in a compost heap or bin; water the heap regularly to provide sufficient moisture for composting. If you’re using an open-air heap, turn it over regularly to assist in the decomposition process. As the material begins to decompose, it becomes hot. This is a sign that it’s curing well. When the heap is cold and the material completely broken down it is ready for use; but remember this will need to be blended with sand, sphagnum moss peat and a base fertilizer to make your ideal potting compost mix. You can easily mix John Innes formula potting compost yourself.
To improve the water-holding ability of the potting compost you can add perlite, vermiculite, soil less mixes or coconut coir to the blend. These are all naturally occurring, nutrient free, soil additives or amendments, available from garden stores. Worm castings can be used and are high in Nitrogen.
Q: How do I blend a perfect compost mix?
These basic recipes can be used to blend your compost for a perfect organic mix:
- 30% Compost
- 30% Vermiculite
- 30% Perlite
- 10% Worm casts
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your compost blends, you may wish to add composted manures, guano, peat moss or even grit. Once you have mixed your potting compost it is advisable to check the pH level. Organic cannabis grows best at levels of around 6.5, with 6 and 7 being acceptable extremes. The pH level can be tested with a probe that is inserted into the soil or with a chemical testing kit. To raise pH levels add ground lime. To lower pH levels add sulphate of ammonia.
Q: What is the best pot size for indoor organics?
The larger the pot the better, however, you need to consider optimum use of space, especially if you are using a grow tent or small area. The minimum pot size should be 15cm across and preferably square as this allows you to pack the plants closer during early growth. It is a good idea to start your crop in smaller pots and plant them on as they develop.
Q: What does N-P-K mean on fertilizer packs?
This refers to the nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium levels contained in the fertilizer. These are commonly referred to as the major elements, along with calcium, magnesium and sulphur. These are the essential compounds for plant growth. A fertilizer labelled (N-P-K) 30-10-10 would have 30% nitrogen content (N) 10% phosphorous content (P) and 10% potassium content (K). In practice some fertilizers can have up to 80% nitrogen content and still be correctly labelled. They can also have any combination of phosphorous and potassium as long as it has at least the minimum listed. There are cannabis specific nutrient solutions readily available and these are safer.
Q: What does cannabis require during vegetative growth?
Cannabis in its vegetative state requires high amounts of nitrogen in its feed. Nitrogen promotes vigorous growth and stem development; it also increases protein synthesis in the plant. Drying of the leaves and reddening of the stems, as well as stunted growth, are all signs of N deficiencies. Fertilizer with an NPK of 30-15-15 is ideal for vegetative growth.
Q: What does cannabis require during the flowering stage?
Cannabis that has entered the flowering stage requires higher amounts of phosphorous and lower levels of nitrogen. Phosphorous promotes blooming and flower production in cannabis. Dark blue/green leaves and small bud formations indicate deficiencies. Fertilizers with an NPK of 15-30-30 are ideal for flowering.
Q: How does cannabis use individual elements?
Nitrogen (N): Nitrogen is a component of proteins, which form an essential part of protoplasm (plant cells living material) and also occur as stored foods in plant cells. Nitrogen is also a part of other organic compounds in plants such as chlorophyll (plant colour pigment), amino acids, alkaloids and some plant hormones.
Plants need lots of Nitrogen during vegetative growth, but it is easy to overdose.
Sulphur (S): This forms an essential part of the protein molecule. Plant proteins may have from 0.5- 1.5% of this element. The Sulphur group is essential for the action of certain enzymes and coenzymes. In addition sulphur is a constituent of ferredoxin and of some lipids, which are used to construct plant cells during growth
Magnesium (Mg): This is a constituent of chlorophyll. It occupies a central position in the molecule. Chlorophylls are the only major compounds of plants that contain magnesium as a stable component. Many enzyme reactions, particularly those involving a transfer of phosphate, are activated by magnesium (Mg) ions; deficiency is common. (Mg) deficiency can be treated with an Epsom salts solution. In overdose (Mg) can lock up other nutrients
Potassium (K): Potassium accumulates in rapidly growing plant tissues. However, it will also migrate from older tissues; during the maturing of the crop there is movement of potassium from leaves into the flowers. Too much sodium (Na) displaces (K), causing a (K) deficiency. Sources of high salinity are: baking soda (sodium bicarbonate pH-up), too much manure and the use of water-softening filters (which should not be used). If the problem is (Na), leach and flush the soil. (K) Can also become locked by too much (Ca) or ammonium nitrogen.
Phosphorous (P): This element is also a component of some plant proteins, phospholipids, sugar phosphates, nucleic acids, ATP and NADP. The highest percentages of phosphorous occur in the parts of the plant that are growing rapidly. Some deficiency during flowering is normal, but too much shouldn’t be tolerated. Red petioles and stems are a normal, genetic characteristic for many cannabis varieties but can also be a symptom of deficiencies; in overdose (P) can lead to iron deficiency.
Calcium (Ca): All green plants require calcium. It is one of the constituents of the middle lamella of the cell wall, where it occurs in the form of calcium pectate. Calcium affects the permeability of cytoplasmic membranes and the hydration of colloids. Calcium may be found in combination with organic acids in the plant.
Iron (Fe): A number of essential compounds in plants contain iron in a form that is bound firmly into the molecule. Iron plays a very important role in energy conversion reactions of both photosynthesis and transpiration. (Fe) is unavailable to plants when the pH of the water or soil is too high. If deficient, lower the pH and check that you’re not adding too much (P), which can lock up iron. Use chelated iron (EDTA) for maximum availability.
Manganese (Mn): Manganese is an activator of aerobic respiration and has disruptive effects of when on metabolism when deficient. The most obvious sign of a manganese deficiency is chlorosis Manganese chlorosis results in the leaf taking on a mottled appearance. (Mn) gets locked out when the pH is too high, and when there’s too much iron.
Copper (Cu): Copper is a constituent of certain enzymes that regulate plant metabolism. In addition copper is part of the electron-transport chain in photosynthesis.
Molybdenum (Mo): Molybdenum is also important in enzyme systems that are involved in nitrogen fixation and nitrate reduction. Plants suffering molybdenum deficiency can absorb nitrate ions but are unable to use this form of nitrogen and growth slows.
Boron (B): Although the exact function of boron in plant metabolism is unclear, boron assists in carbohydrate breakdown. Symptoms of boron deficiency include stunted roots and shoot elongation, lack of flowering, darkening of tissues and growth abnormalities.
Zinc (Zn): Zinc is essential to the normal development of a variety of plants. However, large quantities of zinc are toxic to plants. (Zn) becomes locked out due to high pH. (Zn), (Fe), and (Mn) deficiencies often occur together, and are usually caused by high pH levels.
Chlorine (Ci): This is also an essential nutrient, but not much attention has been paid to it until recently. There is a current debate as to whether silicon, nickel and cobalt are also essential nutrients. Along with essential nutrients, all plants also require Carbon, Oxygen and Hydrogen, which are supplied by water and the atmosphere.
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