The Plant and Cultivation: Cannabis 101

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants (cannabaceae) consisting of three species, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. These species have been around for thousands of years, with evidence linking its origination to Asia. Cannabis has been used for its medicinal and psychoactive elements, as well as for industrial biomass.  There are several key differences between the species, which we’ll delve into. You’ve probably heard of sativa and indica, but not ruderalis…..and that’s because it is rarely used for recreational purposes, and some consider it a subspecies of sativa. Some also use it to breed with sativa plants for specific characteristics, just like indica and sativa are used to make hybrids. 


What is the difference between sativa and indica?

Sativa has nine fan leaves, while indica has five fan leaves. Sativa plants are taller and slimmer, and its fan leaves are longer and thinner. Indica plants are shorter and bushier, and its fan leaves are shorter and wider. Species are also used to describe the different possible feelings one may get from consuming sativa or indica strains. 


What is the legal status of cannabis?

In 2018, the federal government legalized “hemp” and defined it as cannabis with no more than 0.3 % of  the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Here is an excerpt from the FDA’s website:

In December of 2018, the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law. It removed hemp, defined as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) and derivatives of cannabis with extremely low concentrations of the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis), from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).


Many states, including California, have passed both medicinal and recreational use measures passed by Voters. 



Where is cannabis grown?

Cannabis is grown everywhere in the world, though it's thought to have originated in parts of Northern Africa and Southwestern Asia. It has been cultivated for thousands of years according to some records indicating that people have used it for ritualistic and recreational purposes since then. We all know how it feels to smoke but only some of us know the blood sweat and tears it takes to grow the stuff ;) Once prohibition of cannabis became mainstream :( growers of cannabis had to find ways to grow without getting busted, this pushed people to figure out how to grow cannabis Hydroponically, something that at the time was the cutting edge of technology. Though what these people didn't realize was that they were unlocking the way to grow the best quality cannabis anywhere in the world. Oooohhhhh yeah!



Indoor, greenhouse, and outdoor 


Indoor Cannabis is grown in close to a 100% controlled growing environment. Everything about where the plant is, is tailored towards the best life for that plant. Almost cruel but the plants haven't said anything about it yet so we just keep on chugging. 


Greenhouse cannabis is more similar to indoor cannabis apart from the fact that most of the light that the plants receive is natural. These conditions offer more control than just growing in the wild but are more prone than indoors to some of the dangers of outdoor growing, such as temperature changes, pests and contamination. Though when properly planned and controlled by the right people and with love, cannabis can be just as good as any indoor flowers.


Outdoor Cannabis is by far the most natural. It's grown in the soil, outdoors, under the sun with all the creepy crawlies that come with it. Oftentimes Outdoor cannabis is lower quality due to harsher conditions and less attention to detail. But don't be fooled, you probably smoked some yesterday. Outdoor cannabis is great for extraction purposes because you can grow more of it and waste it more freely, also the concentrations of THC and other cannabinoids is usually lower in outdoor plants which makes extraction make more sense when it comes to how to sell it.

Cultivation Facility

 

What type of nutrients are fed to cannabis plants during the cultivation process?


Cannabis plants can be fed two types of food depending on what type of medium they are growing in. For a cannabis plant living in Living Soil, the food given to the plant is basically raw, almost unchewed in a sense. When the food is given to the soil the live microorganisms in the soil decompose the food and turn it into basic nutrients that the plant needs. Cannabis plants living in Living soil are basically spoon fed the poop of the microorganisms living around them. So a great way to think of it is you are feeding the soil and not the plant. This in turn allows the soil to feed the plant.


More commonly, Hydroponic growing is directly feeding the plant. When a plant is given the salts or mixes of nutrients that are given to hydroponic plants you skip the soil and go straight to the plant. Basically we have engineered ways to do the work of the microorganisms and give calculated concentrations of nutrients in specific sequences to have the ability to completely control the life of the plant. This sounds like torture but infact the plants often respond better to hydroponic systems as its easier to predict what is going to happen. This doesn't mean that one is better than the other because that is all down to the cultivator. The person actually feeding the plants is the one who knows their systems best and will be able to cultivate in their respective fashions. 


What are the grow phases in cultivation?


  1. Seedling / Clone
    1. This is the first stage of a plant's life cycle. As a seedling the plant has just germinated from a seed and has begun its life above and below ground. As a Clone, a cutting was taken from a more mature plant that has been given the things it needs in order to grow new roots and begin life as a separate plant from its Mother.
    2. A Clone will have basically exactly the same genetics as the mother plant it comes from. This means growers can give you the same type of bud time after time, ensuring that the smell, look and smoke are extremely similar every time. This is not the case with seedlings. With seedlings it's like playing the lottery, with better odds of course. Plants can be different when grown from seeds. These are called Phenotypes. These phenotypes can all be the same strain and from the same plant but they all have their own different characteristics. Growers use this process, often called “Pheno-Hunting”, in order to find and grow the newest and best weed they can.
  2. Vegitative
    1. This is the structural part of growth. In the vegitative stage the plants only focus is to grow its structure up and out. Often the plant will outgrow itself and create weak spots which if left alone will cause the plant to decrease its yield. This is why growers take the time in the vegetative stage to focus on “training” the plants strength by altering the stems and branches to grow in specific directions and regrow their internal structures to build up scar tissue and become stronger.
  3. Flowering
    1. In the flowering stage is when all the sticky goodness begins to appear. It all starts with nodes of plants starting to show bud-sites. The plant begins its switch after the photoperiod (when it's light and when it's dark) has changed from longer days to closer to 12hrs light and 12hrs dark, more similar to the summer months. After about 8-12 weeks after the switch to flowering, depending on the strain, the cannabis will be ready to harvest and the flower will be in full ripeness. Smelling the strongest and at its capacity in terms of size.


Post Processing

After the cannabis has been harvested it needs to dry and cure. This is a lengthy and finicky process when done naturally but there are machines today that make it very simple. The cannabis needs to have the water taken out and the terpenes need time to almost “ferment” and become the stinky and effect-driving oils in the cannabis. This means that even if two buds are from the same plant, if they are cured differently they can have different effects when smoked.

 

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