by Mel Frank and Ed Rosenthal
Typed by Ben Dawson
Revised 1992

NOTE:- Footnotes have been placed in double brackets (()). Numbers throughout refer to bibliography and are sometimes in brackets, sometimes they aren't. All dates are for northern hemisphere only. Comments on pictures are in curly brackets {}. Please distribute this widely so we can all smoke better marijuana. Legalise marijuana.

4 October 1996

Copying this book was a megamission that took about 3 weeks in the September of 1993. Everything in the book has been copied - even the bibliography. The online version of this guide is available at: Ben Dawson

January 1998

Hyperlinks were added throughout the document for easy navigation. Also the text was formated to be more readable. Alonso Acuña.




History and Taxonomy of Cannabis                        [1]
Cannabis and Ancient History                            [1.2]
Cannabis and American History                           [1.3]
Cannabis and: Species or Varieties                      [1.4]

Cannabinoids : The Active Ingredients of Marijuana      [2]
Cannabinoids and the High                               [2.2]
Resin and Resin Glands                                  [2.3]
Production of Cannabinoids by Cannabis                  [2.4]
Cannabis Chemotypes                                     [2.5]

Before Cultivation Begins                               [3]
Choosing Seeds                                          [3.2]
Cannabis Life Cycle                                     [3.3]
Photoperiod and Flowering                               [3.4]
Inherent Variations in Potency                          [3.5]
Cultivation: Indoors or Outdoors?                       [3.6]

         Indoor Gardening

Introduction                                            [4]

Artificial Light                                        [5]
Features                                                [5.2]
Sources                                                 [5.3]
Setting up the Garden                                   [5.4]
Electricity                                             [5.5]

Soil and Containers for it                              [6]
Pots and Other Containers                               [6.2]
Properties of Soil                                      [6.3]
Preparing Commercial Soils and Mixers                   [6.4]
Buying Soil Components                                  [6.5]
Digging Soil                                            [6.6]
Growing Methods                                         [6.7]

Maintaining the Correct Environment                     [7]
Requirements for Germination                            [7.2]
Light Cycle and Distance of Lights from Plants          [7.3]
Water                                                   [7.4]
Air                                                     [7.5]
Humidity                                                [7.6]

Gardening Techniques                                    [8]
Thinning                                                [8.2]
Transplanting                                           [8.3]
Supports for Plants                                     [8.4]
Uniform Growth                                          [8.5]
Pruning                                                 [8.6]
Training                                                [8.7]

Nutrients and Fertilising                               [9]
Nutrients                                               [9.2]
Application: Fertilising                                [9.3]
Nutrient Deficiencies                                   [9.4]
Soilless Mixtures                                       [9.5]

Diseases and Plant Pests                                [10]
Microbial Diseases                                      [10.2]
Nutrient Diseases                                       [10.3]
Plant Pests                                             [10.4]

Maintenance and Restarting                              [11]

      Outdoor Cultivation

Choosing a Site                                         [12]
Where to Grow                                           [12.2]
Light                                                   [12.3]

Soil                                                    [13]
Types of Soil                                           [13.2]
Humus and Composts                                      [13.3]
Texture                                                 [13.4]
pH                                                      [13.5]
Fertilisers                                             [13.6]
Techniques for Preparing Soils                          [13.7]
Guerrilla Farming                                       [13.8]

Planting and Transplanting                              [14]
When to Plant                                           [14.2]
Preparing to Sow                                        [14.3]
Germination                                             [14.4]
Transplanting                                           [14.5]

Caring for the Growing Plants                           [15]
Weeding                                                 [15.2]
Watering                                                [15.3]
Thinning                                                [15.4]
Staking                                                 [15.5]
Pruning                                                 [15.6]
Gardening Tips                                          [15.7]

Insects and Other Pests                                 [16]
Biological Control                                      [16.2]
Chemical Insecticides                                   [16.3]
Common Pests                                            [16.4]
Vertebrate Pests                                        [16.5]

           Flowering, Breeding and Propagation

Genetics and Sex in Cannabis                            [17]
Flowering                                               [17.2]
Sexual Variants in Cannabis                             [17.3]
Sexing the Plants                                       [17.4]
Sinsemilla                                              [17.5]

Propagation and Breeding                                [18]
Producing Seeds                                         [18.2]
Producing Female Seeds                                  [18.3]
Breeding                                                [18.4]
Cuttings                                                [18.5]
Grafting                                                [18.6]
Polyploids                                              [18.7]

Effects of the Environment on Potency                   [19]
Stress                                                  [19.2]
Nutrients                                               [19.3]

          Harvesting, Curing and Drying

Harvesting                                              [20]
Harvesting During Growth: Leaves and Growing Shoots	[20.2]
Male Plants                                             [20.3]
Harvesting Female Buds                                  [20.4]
Weather                                                 [20.5]
Potency and Decomposition                               [20.6]
Timing the Harvest                                      [20.7]
Final Harvest                                           [20.8]

After the Harvest                                       [21]
Stripping                                               [21.2]
Grading and Manicuring                                  [21.3]
Curing                                                  [21.4]
Drying                                                  [21.5]
Fermentation                                            [21.6]
Storage                                                 [21.7]

Bibliography                                            [22]


Marijuana, or cannabis as it is known internationally, is a plant whose presence is almost universal in our world today. Conservative international reports estimate that there are now 300 million cannabis users. Recent reports indicate that 10 percent of the adult population in the United States are regular users, a figure which is probably similar for many countries in Europe. Its use is also widespread in Africa, Asia, many Arab nations, parts of South America and the Caribbean, as well as Australia and New Zealand. In 1978, more than 5.2 million kilograms (12 million pounds) of cannabis were seized by police worldwide. Authorities estimated that this did not exceed 10 percent of the total traffic.

What has been the response of officials around the world to the use of this plant by its citizens? Regrettably, the climate has been one of almost universal repression, hostility and open violence. Despite gains made in the United States and Europe throughout the 1970's, a new wave of ignorance regarding the use of this plant seems to be sweeping the world. Predictably, the United States has sought to export this "neo-Reefer Madness" to other countries. A united Nations sub-commission of drug enforcement officials in the Far East released a report some time ago extremely critical of the efforts of some countries to decriminalize (i.e. remove criminal penalties for possession of a small amount) cannabis. The sub-commission stated that any such reduction of penalties would vastly increase use, and strongly urged that all countries continue to keep strict laws on the books even for possession of cannabis1. Others requested that publicity campaign be conducted in the media against cannabis, and that more funding be given to "scientific" work to prove that cannabis was harmful2.

US officials, alarmed by reports of cannabis use among adolescents (which, although undesirably high, is in fact leveling off), and by political pressure from reactionary elements, have attempted to depict cannabis as the greatest threat since the atomic bomb. The results of this new hysteria have been great confusion among the public and a slowdown in the progress of cannabis law reform. The results have been predictable: in 1979, over 448,000 people were arrested in the USA for cannabis possession, 80 percent for simple possession. The estimated direct arrests cost to our increasingly debt-ridden government was over $600 million. But no one has ever attempted to account for the total cost of the immense law enforcement efforts against cannabis: for the salaries of Drug Enforcement Administration agents and federal and state narcotics agents and support personnel, the cost of incarcerating the thousands of people sentences to jail (estimated at 10 percent of the total arrests, or 48.000 people), the costs of the anti-cannabis media campaign, the secret grants from NSA/CIA for cannabis eradications, and the economic cost to society created by turning law-abiding citizens into criminals. When these factors are taken into consideration, the cost goes into the billions. By contrast, in the eleven states which have enacted decriminalization since 1972, millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of court, police and administrative work-hours have been saved.

What can the concerned cannabis consumer do to end this climate of hysteria and ignorance? First, we must stress that cannabis legalisation would entail adult use only, and that social and legal restrictions on the use of cannabis would curtail, not increase, use by adolescents. Second, we must educate the public about the genuine effects of cannabis and stress moderate responsible use. This is what we stress about the user of society's legal drugs - alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, and we should take the same approach toward cannabis. Third, the public should be educated about the limits of the law and the rights of citizens; we should not seek to regulate private behaviour through the use of the criminal sanction. Laws protecting public safety, such as driving while under the influence of any substance, would still be kept on the books.

However, as consumers we have an additional responsibility: we must begin to address the problems of supply and demand. It is essential that we take upon ourselves the task of proposing viable solutions to the current unworkable prohibition.

With this is mind, numerous cannabis reform organizations around the world have begun exploring models for the legalization of cannabis. Under the auspices of the International Cannabis Alliance for Reform (ICAR), an international organization of cannabis law-reform groups, many of these organizations met in Amsterdam, Holland in February, 1980, at the first International Cannabis Legalization Conference to discuss legalization plans and proposals. The many plans presented reflected the various backgrounds and interests of the countries they represented some called for a totally open-market system run by cooperatives, others employed elaborate organizational systems with varying degrees of governmental control, and still others called for total control by the private sector. Emphasis was placed on the need for all groups to develop legalization models suited to their own particular climate and country and that a single, monolithic legalization plan was neither feasible nor desirable.

However, virtually all the plans had one important element in common: every person would have the right to grow cannabis for his or her own personal use. This is the very minimum requirement upon which all legalisation models are based, for this would allow the consumer the chance to remove himself or herself from the black market, whether it be licit or illicit.

This is an essential aspect of cannabis reform: to convince consumers to diversify their sources of supply by growing their own cannabis. Growing cannabis enables one to reduce drastically the costs and at the same time establish a closer relationship with the plant itself. Its amazing adaptability, acquired through centuries of travel to all four corners of the earth, users that it can grow and thrive anywhere there is sunlight and water. By learning the relatively simple techniques involved in cannabis horticulture, the consumer can avoid the illicit market with all its attendant problems, and concentrate on growing the plant itself, on producing and consuming the product of one's own labor, a product which is pure and can be produced at a cost of pennies per ounce.

We must take this step, for just as the nations of the world are seeking energy, self-sufficiency, so now must we seek cannabis self-sufficiency.

The willingness of consumers greatly to diversify their sources has caused tremendous changes in the manner in which cannabis is grown and marketed. Plagued by ridiculously high prices, dangers in purchasing, wild fluctuations in quantity and quality, impurities, and continual police harassment, consumers all over the world are discovering that anyone can grow good cannabis just about anywhere.

In Central and South America, production has increased so rapidly in the last few years that large quantities are now being exported to Europe. Arab countries, traditionally dependent on Lebanon and Syria, are now reporting increasing domestic cultivation attempts. Many countries of Europe, especially the southern countries of Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, are reporting cultivation. India noted that both its legal (in the states of West Bengal, Orissa and Madhya Predesh) and illegal (all other states) under a similar scheme. In the Near and Middle East, notably Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the people are continuing their traditional production of cannabis for local and export use.

Australia, a country whose huge size (roughly that of the US) and relatively sparse population make it virtually ideal for cultivation, reported widespread cultivation and seizures of over 70,000 kilos of cannabis, 2,500 kilos of hashish, and 850,000 plants uprooted in a two-year period between 1977 and 1978. Many people living on Pacific islands such as New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji, the Cook Islands and elsewhere have discovered that cannabis will grow very well in their environment; Jamaica and other islands in the Caribbean are also experiencing an increase in cultivation. Recent newspaper reports from that country indicate that as many as 1/2 million Jamaican farmers out of a total population of 2 million may be producing cannabis to satisfy domestic and export demand. The total gross income from the Jamaican cannabis business is estimated to exceed $200 million a year3.

Virtually every country in South America reported at least some cannabis cultivations. In addition to increased production in Colombia, whose 1978 crop was estimated to be worth between $1.5 and $2 billion, other countries are experiencing an increase in cultivation. Over 50,000 acres of cannabis were discovered under cultivation in western Venezuela in 1978. In 1976 in Brazil, 271 kilos of cannabis were reported seized, but the next year increased to 91,207 kilos, and by 1978, authorities seized over 276,000 kilos. Cultivation was also reported in Argentina, Ecuador, Guyana, Surinam and Uruguay. Soviet officials go to inordinate lengths to deny that cannabis-use exists in their country though Russia is known to be a large cannabis producer, and not just for commercial purposes. (Soviet officials reported to the United Nations that they seized only 227 grams of cannabis in the entire country4 in 1978; the few offender were immediately sent to psychiatric hospitals.) In several Eastern European countries the best hashish is knows as "Tashkenti," named for the major city in south-central Russia. Tashkent is ethnically dominated by Turkic tribesmen and shares the Hindu Kush mountain range with Afghanistan.

The key to stability in the cannabis market is clearly domestic production, which offers many economic and social advantages over continued importation.

Domestic varieties offer ease of access and supply, and help to diversify the overall market by offering new products which compete in quality and price with the imported varieties. In addition, they serve to stimulate the local concentrating bulk of the profits in the region in which they were produced. This is a noticeable reversal of the previous consumer-producer relationship, where most of the profits were realized by exporters and middlepersons who operated outside the source country. Expanded domestic production would decrease the influence of these middlepersons and greatly strengthen the overall market.

This book was written to make the consumer aware of how easy (and important) it is to cultivate cannabis. In a clear and simply style, Mel Frank and Ed Rosenthal describe everything you need to know about growing cannabis. By employing some of these simple methods you can greatly reduce your dependence on foreign products and at the same time gain a greater understanding of a plant whose relationship with humanity dates to prehistoric times.

Be fruitful, and multiply...

Bob Pisani Coordinator, International Cannabis Alliance for Reform (ICAR) Philadelphia, PA


The purpose of this book is to show you how to grow enough marijuana to supply all your family's needs. It doesn't matter where you live, or even if you are growing your first plant, because all the information needed to become a master marijuana farmer in your own home, or in the field, is provided in these pages.

The world has seen an enormous increase in marijuana use in the past ten years. Consequently, many governments have sponsored research in order to understand the nature of the plant as well as its psychoactive compounds - substances that are being smoked or ingested by more then 400 million people all over the world. Before the recent interest, marijuanaphiles had only research papers (mostly on hemp varieties) to glean for information about the plants and their cultivation. Now there are thousands of papers dealing directly with the plants and their use as marijuana. This doesn't mean all is known about marijuana. In fact, much of what is discussed deals with unknown aspects of these ancient and mysterious plants. The mysteries, however, are beginning to unravel.

Our information resources include our personal experience with growing and the experience and knowledge shared with us by marijuana growers all across the country. We also rely on the professional research of many scientists (see the Bibliographic Notes). For the experienced growers, we've included the latest research on increasing potency, some ideas for improving yield and controlling flowering (time of harvest), and also procedures for breeding quality strains suited to a particular growing situation.

Some of the best grass in the world is grown right here in the United States (that is our very own stoned opinion of homegrown gratefully sampled from Hawaii to Maine). You can do it too - it's not magic, and it's not difficult to do. Highly potent plants can be grown indoors, as well as in gardens, fields, and the wilds. Indoor growers must create an environment, whereas outdoor gardeners work within the environment. Following these two approaches to cultivation, this book is divided into separate, parallel parts on indoor and outdoor sections, preceded by some background information on marijuana plants, and followed by general procedures for breeding, harvesting, etc., that are independent of the type of growing site.

Cultivation is not a complicated process, and we hope we don't make it appear difficult. But even if you're a novice when you first sow your seeds, your questions on the plants and their cultivation will become more complex as you gain experience and insight. We hope we have anticipated your questions with solid and clearly stated answers; we intend this book to serve as a guide long after your first reading and harvest.

There are probably as many ways to grow marijuana as there are marijuana farmers. We hope to impart an understanding of the plants and their cultivation, so that you can adapt the knowledge to fit your particular situation - where you live, the land or space available, and the time, energy, and funds at your disposal.

Modest indoor gardens are quite simple to set up and care for. All the materials you'll need are available at nurseries, garden shops, and hardware and lighting stores, or they may be found around the house or streets. The cost will depend on how large and elaborate you make the garden and on whether you buy or scavenge your materials. With a little ingenuity, the cost can be negligible.

It takes about an hour every three or four days to water and tend to a medium-sized indoor garden.

Outdoors, a small patch in your summer garden can supply all your smoking needs with little or no expense. Generally, marijuana requires less care than most other crops, because of its natural tenacity and ability to compete with indigenous weeds. Hardy Cannabis resists mild frost, extreme heat, deluge, and drought. In this country, few diseases attack marijuana; once the plants are growing, they develop their own natural protection against most insects.

In some areas of the country, such as parts of the Midwest and East, the plants may require no more attention than sowing the seeds in spring and harvesting the plants in autumn. But if you're like most growers, you'll find yourself spending more and more time in your garden, watching the tiny sprouts emerge, then following their development into large, lush, and finally resinous, flowering plants.

Nurturing and watching these beautiful plants as they respond can be a humanising experience. Marijuana farmers know their plants as vital living organisms. If you already are a plant grower, you may understand. If not, read through this book, imagining the various decisions you, as grower, would be making to help your plants reach a full and potent maturity. Then make your plans and get started. There's just no reason to pay $50 an ounce for superior smoke when it grows for free. Free, grass, free yourself.

This book is the result of the efforts of many people, each of whom contributed uniquely to its final form and content. First there are the many growers who opened their hearts and gardens to us. Our love and thanks to our friends in California (Calistoga, Calavaras, Humbolt, Orange counties, and the Bay Area), the Umpqua Valley, Oregon, Eastern Colorado, Central Florida, Eastern Massachusetts, Upstate New York, New York City, Atlanta, Hawaii, and Port Antonio, Jamaica. We would also like to thank everyone who wrote and shared their growing experiences with us.

Specifically, we would like to acknowledge the contributions of the following: Editors; Aiden Kelly, Peter Beren, Ron Lichty, and Sayre Can Young. Preparation of the manuscript; Carlene Schnabel, Ron Lichty, Aiden Kelly, Marina La Palma. Index by Sayre Van Young. Layout and Design; Bonnie Smetts. Graphics; maps and charts by E.N. Lainca; illustration by Oliver Williams; and molecules by Marlyn Amann. Special Services; Gorden Brownell, Al Karger, Michael Starks, Peter Webster, and special thanks to Sandy Weinstein for help with the photography. Also thank you M.T., A.P., and C.T. Special thanks; Sebastian Orfila and John Orfali.

We were fortunate to have had the use of the following libraries: Bronx Botanical Gardens, City College of New York, Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library, Harvard Botanical Museum, New York City Public Libraries, University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco, University of Mississippi, Oxford.

Chapter One
History and Taxonomy of Cannabis


The ancestors of Cannabis originated in Asia, possibly on the more gentle slopes of the Himalayas or the Altai Mountains to the north. The exact origin, obscured by Stone Age trails the cross the continent, is not known.

We don't know when Cannabis and humanity first met. Given the growth habit of the plant and the curiosity of humanity, such a meeting was inevitable. In the plant world, Cannabis is a coloniser. It establishes new territory when running water or seed-eating animals carry seed to cleared and fertile soil open to the sun. Fertile soil, clear of competing plants, is rare and short-lived in nature, and is commonly caused by catastrophe such as flood or earthslide. Natural dissemination is slow and the plats tend to grow in thick stands by dropping seed about the spread of their branches.

During the Neolithic era, some 10,000 years ago nomadic groups scavenged, hunted, fished, and gathered plants in an unending search for food. The search ended when they learned to plant the native grains (grasses) and developed agriculture. Agriculture requires a commitment to the land and grants a steady food supply which enables people to form permanent settlements. Cannabis and Neolithic bands probably came in contact often as the plants invaded the fertile clearings - the campsites, roadsides, fields and garbage heaps - that occur wherever people live.

In 1926 the Russian botanist Vavilov summarised the observations of his comrade, Sinkaia, on the domestication of hemp by peasants of the Altai Mountains: "1. wild hemp; 2. spreading of hemp from wild centers of distribution into populated areas (formation of weedy hemp); 3. utilisation of weedy hemp by the population; 4. cultivation of hemp."24

The plants which people learn to use help define aspects of their way of life, including perceptions of the world, health, and the directions their technologies and economies flow. The plants you are about to grow are descended from one of the ancient plants that made the transition to civilisation possible.

The earliest cultural evidence of Cannabis comes from the oldest known Neolithic culture in China, the Yang-shao, which appeared along the Yellow River valley about 6,500 years ago (*Cannabis is known to have been used in the Bylony culture of Central Europe (about 7,000 years ago).184). The clothes the people wore, the nets they fished and hunted with, and the ropes they used in the earliest machines were all made of the long, strong, and durable fibre, hemp. This valuable fibre separates from>

Transfer interrupted!

ecays (rets).

In the early classics of the Chou dynasty, written over 3,000 years ago, mention is often made of "a prehistoric culture based on fishing and hunting, a culture without written language but which kept records by tying knots in ropes. Nets were used for fishing and hunting and the weaving of nets eventually developed into clothmaking."8 These references may well be to the Yang-shao people.

As their culture advanced, these prehistoric people replaced their animal skins with hemp cloth. At first, hemp cloth was worn only by the more prosperous, but when silk became available, hemp clothed the masses.

People in China relied on Cannabis for many more products than fibre. Cannabis seeds were one of the grains of early China along with river barley, millet, and soybeans. The seeds were ground into a meal, or roasted whole, or cooked in porridge. The ancient tombs of China had sacrificial vessels filled with hemp seed and other grains for the afterlife. From prehistoric times there is a continuos record of the importance of hemp seed for food until the first to second century BC when the seed had been replaced by more palatable cereal grains.7 (an interesting note from the Tung-kuan archives (28 AD) records that after a war-caused famine the people subsisted on "wild" Cannabis and soybean.8)

The effects of Cannabis' resinous leaves and flowers did not go unnoticed. The Oen-ts-ao Ching, the oldest pharmacopoeia known, states that the fruits (flowering tops) of hemp, "if taken in excess will produce hallucinations" (literally "seeing devils"). The ancient medical work also says, "If taken over a long term, it makes one communicate with spirits and lightens one's body."9 Marijuana, with a powerful effect on the psyche, must have been considered a magical herb at a time when medical concepts were just being formed. The P[e hat]n-ts'ao Ching, speaking for the legendary Emperor Sh[e hat]n-nung of about 2000 BC, prescribes marijuana preparations for "malaria, beriberi, constipation, rheumatic pains, absent-mindedness, and female disorders."15 Even the Cannabis root found its place in early medicine. Ground to form a paste, it was applied to relive the pain of broken bones and surgery.

New uses were discovered for Cannabis as Chinese civilisation progressed and developed new technologies. The ancient Chinese leaned to mill, heat, and then wedge-press Cannabis seeds to extract the valuable oil, a technique still used in the western world in the twentieth century. Pressed seeds yielded almost 20 percent oil by weight. Cannabis oil, much like linseed oil, could be used for cooking, to fuel lamps, for lubrication, and as the base in paint, varnish, and soap making. After oil extraction, the residue or "hemp cake" still contained about 10 percent oil and 30 percent protein, a nutritious feed for domesticated animals.

Another advancement came with the Chinese invention of paper. Hemp fibres recycled from old rags and fish nets made a paper so durable that some was recently found in graves in the Shense province that predates 100 BC (9) Hemp paper is known for its longevity and resistance to tearing, and is presently used for paper money (Canada) and for fine Bibles.

The ancient Chinese learned to use virtually every part of the Cannabis plant: the root for medicine,; the stem for textiles, rope and paper making; the leaves and flowers for intoxication and medicine; and the seeds for food and oil. Some of the products fell into disuse only to be rediscovered by other people at other times.

While the Chinese were building their hemp culture, the cotton cultures of India and the linen (flax) cultures of the Mediterranean began to learn of Cannabis through expanding trade and from wandering tribes of Aryans, Mongols, and Scythians who had bordered China since Neolithic times.

The Aryans (Indo-Persians) brought Cannabis culture to India nearly 4,000 years ago. They worshipped the spirits of plants and animals, and marijuana played an active role in their rituals. In China, with the strong influence of philosophic and moralistic religions, use of marijuana all but disappeared. But in India, the Aryan religion grew through oral tradition, until it was recorded in the four Vedas, compiled between 1400 and 1000 BC. In that tradition, unlike the Chinese, marijuana was sacred, and the bhangas spirit was appealed to "for freedom of distress" and as a "reliever of anxiety" (from the Atharva Veda).1 A gift from the gods, according to Indian mythology, the magical Cannabis "lowered fevers, fostered sleep, relieved dysentery, and cured sundry other ills; it also stimulated the appetite, prolonged life, quickened the mind, and improved the judgement."15

The Scythians brought Cannabis to Europe via a northern route where remnants of their campsites, from the Altai Mountains to Germany, date back 2,800 years. Seafaring Europe never smoked marijuana extensively, but hemp fibre became a major crop in the history of almost every European country. Pollen analysis dates the cultivation of Cannabis to 400 BC in Norway, although it is believed the plant was cultivated in the British Isles several centuries earlier.2 The Greeks and Romans used hemp for rope and sail but imported the fibre from Sicily and Gaul. And it has been said the "Caesar invaded Gaul in order to tie up the Roman Empire," an allusion to the Romans' need for hemp.

Marijuana, from its stronghold in India, moved westward through Persia, Assyria and Arabs by 500 AD. With the rising power if Islam, marijuana flourished in a popular form as hashish. In 1378, the Emir Soudon Sheikhouni tried to end the use of Indian hashish by destroying all such plants, and imprisoning all users (first removing their teeth for good measure). Yet in a few years marijuana consumption had increased.1

Islam had a strong influence on the use of marijuana in Africa. However, its use is so ingrained in some ancient cultures of the Zambezi Valley that is appearance clearly predated Islam. Tribes from the Congo, East Africa, Lake Victoria, and South Africa smoke marijuana in ritual and leisure. The ancient Riamba cult is still practiced in the Congo. According to the Riamba beliefs, marijuana is a god, protector from physical and spiritual harm. Throughout Africa treaties and business transactions are sealed with a puff of smoke from a yard-long pipe.(15)

With increased travel and trade, Cannabis seed was brought to all parts of the known world by ships and caravans rigged with the fibre of its kind. And when the first settlers came to the Americas, they brought the seed with them.


Like their European forbears, Americans cultivated Cannabis primarily for hemp fibre. Hemp seed was planted in Chile in 1545,(64) Canada in 1606, Virginia in 1611, and in the Puritan settlements in Massachusetts in the 1630s(15). Hemp-fibre production was especially important to the embryonic colonies for homespun cloth and for ship rigging. In 1637, the General Court at Hartford ordered that "every family within this plantation shall procure and plant this present year one spoonful of English hemp seed in some soyle."(12)

Hemp growing was encouraged by the British parliament to meet the need for fibre to rig the British fleets. Partly to dissuade the colonists from growing only tobacco, bounties were paid for hemp and manuals on hemp cultivation were distributed. In 1762, that state of Virginia rewarded hemp growers and "imposed penalties upon those that did not produce it."(2)

The hemp industry started in Kentucky in 1775 and in Missouri some 50 years later. By 1860, hemp production in Kentucky alone exceeded 40,000 tons and the industry was second only to cotton in the South. The Civil War disrupted production and the industry never recovered, despite several attempts by the United States Department of Agriculture to stimulate cultivation by importing Chinese and Italian hemp seed to Illinois, Nebraska, and California. Competition from imported jute and "hemp" (Musa textiles) kept domestic production under 10,000 tons per year. In the early 1900s, a last effort by the USDA failed to offset the economic difficulties of a labour shortage and the lack of development of modern machinery for the hemp industry (64). However, it was legal force that would bring an end to US hemp production.

For thousands of years marijuana had been valued and respected for its medicinal and euphoric properties. The Encyclopaedia Brittanica of 1894 estimated that 300 million people, mostly from Eastern countries, were regular marijuana users. Millions more in both the East and the West received prescription marijuana for such wide-ranging ills as hydrophobia and tetanus.

By the turn of the century, many doctors had dropped marijuana from the pharmacopoeias: drugs such as aspirin, though less safe (marijuana has never kill anyone), were more convenient, more predictable, and more specific to the condition being treated. Pill-popping would become an American institution.

Marijuana was not a legal issue in the United States until the turn of the twentieth century. Few Americans smoked marijuana, and those that did were mostly minority groups. According to author Michael Aldrich, (1) "The illegalisation of Cannabis came about because of who was using it" - Mexican labourers, southern blacks, and the newly subjugated Filipinos.

In states where there were large non-white populations, racist politicians created the myths that marijuana caused insanity, lust, violence and crime. One joint and you were addicted, and marijuana led the way to the use of "equivalent drugs" - cocaine, opium and heroin. These myths were promoted by ignorant politicians and journalists, who had neither experience nor knowledge of Cannabis, and grew into an anti-marijuana hysteria by the next generation.

For example, the first states to pass restriction on marijuana use were in the Southwest, where there were large populations of migrant workers from Mexico. One of the first states to act was California, which, "with its huge Chicano population and opium smoking Chinatowns, labelled marijuana 'poison' in 1907, prohibited its possession unless prescribed by a physician in 1915, and included it among hard narcotics, morphine and cocaine in 1929." (1)

In marijuana, the mainstream society found a defenceless scapegoat to cover the ills of poverty, racism, and cultural prejudice. San Franciscans "were frightened by the 'large influx of Hindoos ... demanding Cannabis indica' who were initiating 'the whites into their habit.'" (11) Editorialists heightened public fears with nightmarish headlines of the "marijuana menace" and "killer weed," and fear of Cannabis gradually spread through the West. By 1929, 16 western states had passed punitive restrictions governing marijuana use.

{Figure 5.  (Sample -- Warning card to be placed in R. R. Trains, Buses,
Street Cars, etc.)
Beware! Young and Old - People in All Walks of Life!
This {joint} may be handed you by the friendly stranger.
It contains the Killer Drug "Marihuana" -- a powerful narcotic
in which lurks Murder!  Insanity!  Death!
Dope peddlers are shrewd!  They may put some of this drug in the {teapot}
or in the {cocktail} or in the tobacco cigarette.
(Incorporated not for profit)
52W Jackson Blvd.   Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

{'This may be handed you by the ...' is a mistake on the poster}}

Marijuana was not singled out be anti-drug campaigners. During this time, Congress not only banned "hard" narcotics, but also had prohibited alcohol and considered the prohibition of medical pain killers and even caffeine.

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was established in 1930 with Harry Anslinger as its first commissioner. During the first few years of operation, the bureau minimised the marijuana problem, limited mostly to the Southwest and certain ghettos in the big cities of the East. However, the bureau was besieged with pleas from local police and sheriffs to help with marijuana problems. The FBN continued to resist this pressure, because Commissioner Anslinger had serious doubts as to whether federal law restricting marijuana use could be sustained as constitutional. Further, FBN reports indicate that the bureau did not believe that the marijuana problem was as great as its public reputation. Control of the drug would also prove extremely difficult, for as Anslinger pointed out, the plant grew "like dandelions." (11)

The joblessness and misery of the depression added impetus to the anti-marijuana campaign. This came about indirectly, by way of focusing public sentiment against migrant and minority workers who were blamed for taking "American" jobs. Much of this sentiment grew out of cultural and racial prejudice and was supported by groups such as Key Men of America and the American Coalition. The goal of these groups was to "Keep America American."

However, by 1935 almost every state had restricted marijuana use, and local police and influential politicians had managed to pressure the FBN to seek a federal marijuana law. The constitutional question could be circumvented by cleverly tying restrictions to a transfer tax, effectively giving the federal government legal control of marijuana.

With this new tack, the FBN prepared for congressional hearings on the Marijuana Tax Act so that passage of the bill would be assured. Anslinger and politicians seeking to gain from this highly emotional issue railroaded the Marijuana Tax Act through the 1937 Congress. Anslinger made sure that "the only information that they (the congressmen) has was what we would give them at the hearings." (11) No users were allowed to testify in pot's defence, and doctors and scientists were ridiculed for raising contrary views (16). The new federal law made both raising and use of the plant illegal without the purchase of a hard-to-acquire federal stamp. The FBN immediately intensified the propaganda campaign against marijuana and for the next generation, the propaganda continued unchallenged.

The marijuana hysteria also ended any hopes for a recovery of the hemp industry. What had been needed was a machine that would solve the age-old problem of separating the fibre from the plant stem, an effort which required considerable skilled labour. The machine that could have revolutionised hemp production was introduced to the American public in the February 1938 edition of Popular Mechanics. But the Marijuana Tax Act has been passed four months earlier, and the official attitude toward all Cannabis is best illustrated by this quote from Harry J. Anslinger, commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics: "Now this (hemp) is the finest fibre known to man-kind, my God, if you ever have a shirt made of it, your grandchildren would never wear it out. You take Polish families. We'd go in and start to tear it up and the man came out with his shotgun yelling, 'These are my clothes for next winter!'" (2)

During the war years, after the Japanese had cut off America's supply of manila hemp, worried officials supplied hemp seed and growing information to Midwestern farmers. In Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, hemp farmers showed their wartime spirit by producing over 63,000 tons of hemp fibre in 1943.

Unlike many of our ancient domesticated plants, Cannabis never lost its colonising tendencies or ability to survive without human help. Cannabis readily "escapes" cultivated fields and may flourish long after its cultivation is abandoned. However, Cannabis always keeps in contact by flourishing in our waste areas - our vacant fields and lots, along roads and drainage ditches, and in our rubbish and garbage heaps. Perhaps it awaits discovery by future generations. The cycle has been repeated many times.

States that once supported hemp industry are now dotted with stands of escaped weedy hemp. Weedy hemp grows across the country, except in the Southwest and parts of the Southeast. Distribution is centered heavily in the Midwest. Most of these plants are descended from Chinese and European hemp strains that were bred in Kentucky and the grown in Midwestern stated during World War II. But some weed patches, such as in Kentucky and Missouri, go back perhaps to revolutionary times.

The Anslinger crusades that continued through the sixties are a fine example of government propaganda and control of individual lives and beliefs. We still feel the ramifications in our present laws and in the fear-response to marijuana harboured by many people who grew up with Anslingian concepts. Poor Cannabis, portrayed as a dangerous narcotic that would bring purgatory upon anyone who took a toke - violence, addiction, lust, insanity - you name it, and marijuana caused it. All it ever did to us was get us stoned ... things slowed down a bit ... enough to stop and look around.

{Figure 6.  A weedy hemp stand in Nebraska.}

Hopefully, we are living in the last years of the era of illegal marijuana and the persecution of this plant. Cannabis is truly wondrous, having served human needs for, perhaps, 10,000 years. It deserves renewed attention not only for its chemical properties, but also as an ecologically sensible alternative for synthetic fibres in general and especially wood-pulp paper. May Cannabis be vindicated.

1.4 Cannabis: Species or Varieties

The 10,000-year co-evolution of Cannabis and humanity has had a profound impact on both plant and humans. Cannabis has affected our cultural evolution; we have affected the plant's biological evolution.

From small populations of ancient progenitors, hundreds of varieties or strains of Cannabis have evolved. These variations can be traced to human acts, both planned and accidental.

Ancient farmers, knowing that like begets like, selected Cannabis for certain characteristics to better suit their needs. With the need for fibre, seeds from plants with longer stems and better fibres were cultivated. Gradually, their descendants became taller, straight-stemmed, and had a minimum of branches. Some farmers were interested in seed and oil. They developed large-seeded, bushy plants that could bear an abundance of seeds. Marijuana farmers interested in potency selected plants that flowered profusely with heavy resin and strong psychoactive properties.

The subsequent variations in Cannabis are striking. In Italy, where hemp fibre supports a major textile and paper industry, some fibre varieties grow 35 feet in a single season. Other Italian varieties may reach only five or six feet in height, but have slender, straight stems that yield a fibre of very fine quality. In Southeast Asia, some marijuana plants grow only four feet or less, yet these are densely foliated and heavy with resin. Other varieties of marijuana grow 15 to 20 feet in a season and yield over a pound of grass per plant.

Breeding plants is a conscious act. The plant's evolution, however, has also been affected by its introduction to lands and climates different from its original home. Whether plants are cultivated or weeds, they must adapt to their environment. Each new country and growing situation presented Cannabis with new circumstances and problems for survival. The plants have been so successful at adapting and harmonising with new environments that they are now considered the most widely distributed of cultivated plants. (45)

In French, Cannabis is sometimes called "Le Chanvre troumper" or "tricky hemp," a name coined to described its highly adaptable nature. The word adaptable actually has two meanings. The first refers to how a population of plants (the generic pool) adjusts to the local environment over a period of generations. (The population is, in practice, each batch of seeds you heave, or each existing stand or field.) For instance, a garden with some plants that flower late in the season will not have time to seed in the north. The next year's crop will come only from any early seeding plants. Most of them will be like their parents and will set seed early. (See section 18.)

Adaptable is a term that also applies to the individual living plant (phenotype) and, in practical terms, means that Cannabis is tenacious and hardy -- a survivor among plants. It thrives under a variety of environmental conditions, whether at 10,000 feet in the Himalayas, the tropical valleys of Colombia, or the cool and rainy New England coast.

Through breading and natural selection, Cannabis has evolved in many direction. Botanically and historically, the genus is so diverse that many growers are confused by the mythology, exotic names, and seeming contradictions that surround the plants. Many inconsistencies are explained by understanding how variable Cannabis is. There are hundreds of wild, weedy, and cultivated varieties. Cultivated varieties may be useful for only hemp, oil, or marijuana. "Strains," "varieties," "cultivars," "chemovars," or "ecotypes" differ widely in almost every apparent characteristic. Varieties range from two to 35 feet tall; branching patterns run from dense to quite loose, long (five or six feet) or short (a few inches). Various branching patterns form the plant into shapes ranging from cylindrical, to conical, to ovoid, to very sparse and gangly. The shape and colour of leaves and stems, seeds, and flowering clusters are all variable characteristics that differ among varieties. Life cycles may be as short as three months, or the plants may hang on to life for several years. Most importantly, different varieties provide great variations in the quality and quantity of resin they produce, and hance in their psychoactive properties and value as marijuana.

The taxonomy (ordering and naming) of Cannabis has never been adequately carried out. Early research placed the genus Cannabis within the Families of either the Moraceae (mulberry) or the Urticaceae (nettle). Now there is general agreement that the plant belongs in a separate family, the Cannabaceae, along with one other genus, Humulus, the hops plant. (See section on Grafting in section 18.)

A modern Scheme for the phylogeny of Cannabis would be:

	Subdivision	Angiospermae (flowering plants)
	Class	Dicotyledoneae (dicots)
	Order	Uriticales (nettle order)
	Family	Cannabaceae (hemp family)
	Genus	Cannabis (hemp plant)

Below the genus level, there is no general agreement on how many species should be recognised within Cannabis. The Cannabis lineage has not been possible to trace after thousands of years of human intervention.

Most research refers to Cannabis as a single species - Cannabis sativa L. (The word Cannabis comes from ancient vernacular names for hemp, such as the Greek Kannabis; sativa means "cultivated" in Latin; L. stands for Linnaeus, the botanical author of the name.) But some botanists who are studying Cannabis believe there are more than one species within the genus.

Richard Schultes, for example, describes three separate species (see Box A) based on variations in characteristics believed not to be selected for by humans (natural variations) such as seed colour and abscission layer (scar tissue on the seed which indicates how it was attached to the stalk).

Schultes' Key as it appears in Harvard Botanical
Museum Leaflets (45)
Cannabis Sativa
1. Plants usually tall (five to 18 feet), laxly branched; akenes ((Akene (or Achene) is the botanical name for the fruit of Cannabis. In Cannabis, the fruit is essentially the seed.)) smooth, usually lacking marbled pattern on outer coat, firmly attached to stalk and without definite articulation.
Cannabis Indica
1A. Plant usually small (four feet or less), not laxly branched; akenes usually strongly marbled on outer coat, with a definite abscission layer, dropping off at maturity.
2. Plants very densely branched, more or less conical, usually four feet tall or less; abscission layer a simple articulation at base of akene.
Cannabis ruderalis ((Limited to parts of Asia.))
2A. Plants not branched or very sparsely so, usually one to two feet at maturity. Abscission layer forms a fleshly carbuncle-like growth at base of akene.

Ideally, the classification of living things follows a natural order, reflecting relationships as they occur in nature. Species are groups of organisms that are evolving as distinct units. Biologically, the evolutionary unit is the population, a population being a group of freely inbreeding organisms. Living things don't always fit neatly into scientific categories. And the meaning of species changes with our understanding of life and the evolutionary processes. Often, the definition of species will depend on the particular being studied.

A traditional way of defining separate species is that off-spring that result cannot reproduce successfully. As far as is known, all Cannabis plants can cross freely, resulting in fully fertile hybrids (107). But growth habit and actual gene exchange are important considerations in plant taxonomy. If different populations never come in contact, then there is no pressure for them to develop biological processes to prevent them mixing. Cannabis is pollinated by the wind. Although wind may carry pollen grains hundreds of miles, almost all pollen falls within a few feet of the parent plant. The chance of a pollen grain fertilising a tiny female flower more than 100 yards away is extremely small (201). Hence, separate stands or fields of Cannabis (populations) are quite naturally isolated. For Cannabis, the fact that populations are isolated by distance is not sufficient grounds for labelling them separate species, nor is successful hybridisation reason enough to group all populations as one species.

The species question and Cannabis mythology are complicated by the plant's ability to rapidly change form and growth habits. These changes can be measured in years and decades, rather than centuries or millennia.

The fact that a pollen grain does occasionally fertilise a distant flowers leads to a process called introgression. Introgression means that new genes (new variations and possible variations) are incorporated into the population via the foreign pollen. This crossing between populations leads to an increase in variation within the population, but a decrease in the differences between the populations. Although introgression confuses the species question, it also adds to the plant's adaptable nature by providing a resource for adaptive variations. In other words, Cannabis has been around. The plants have a rich and varied history of experience, which is reflected in their variety and adaptive nature.

If breeding barriers do not exist, species are often delimited by natural differences in morphology (structure or appearance). The natural variations on which Schultes' key is based are actually affected by contact with farmers. For instance, seeds which drop freely from the plant are less likely to be collected and sown by the farmer, so that cultivated Cannabis may eventually develop a different type of abscission layer than when wild or weedy.

Seed colour and pattern are affected naturally by the need for camouflage. Under cultivation this natural selection pressure would not be the same. Many farmers select seeds by colour, believing the darkest are the best developed. In other words, there are serious problems with this limited approach to categorising species in Cannabis. This does not go unrecognised by Dr. Schultes, and the key represents a starting point. However, species should represent distinct groups within a genus, and populations with intermediate characteristics should be the exception. When you grow marijuana, you'll find that most varieties do not fit into any of these categories, but lie somewhere between. The majority of the marijuana from the Western Hemisphere would follow this description: plants tall (eight to 18 feet); well-branched; akenes usually strongly marbled; base of the seed sometimes slightly articulated.

Other characteristics, such as variations on wood anatomy (17) and leaf form (28), have been suggested for delimiting Cannabis species. However, wood anatomy, like stem anatomy, can be seriously affected by selection for hemp in particular, but also by selection for marijuana and seed. Wood anatomy also depends on the portion of the stem examined and on the arrangement of leaves (phyllotaxy), which, in turn, is influenced by light levels, photoperiod, and the physiological development of the plant.

Most Cannabis plants have compound leaves with seven to nine blades or leaflets per leaf. Occasionally, varieties are seen where all the leaves have only one to three blades (monophyllous). Such plants sometimes arise from varieties with compound leaves. The factor is genetic, but carries little weight for the separation of species.

Human selection for particular traits can powerfully alter plants. Sex vegetables - cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale, and kohlrabi - are all descended from a single wild species of mustard herb, Brassica oleracea (216). Human preference for particular parts of the plant led to their development. All six are still considered one species.

Any classification of species in Cannabis, based solely on morphological grounds, will prove difficult to justify with our present knowledge of the plant. At this time it seems that all Cannabis should be considered one species, Cannabis sativa L.

{Figure 7.  Common marijuana leaf with seven blades (Colombian)}
{Figure 8.  Four leaf types from Colombian marijuana varieties}
{Figure 9.  Leaf blades from Figure 8.}

The debate on whether there is more than one species has been intense, for the issue has legal implications. Many laws specifically prohibit only Cannabis sativa. Presumably other species would not be prohibited. However, in the United States, this argument was recently dismissed when tested in a California court. The court upheld the argument that the law's intent is clear, although it may be questionable botanically: under law all Cannabis are regarded alike.

Luckily, the controversy over the number of species is of no more than academic interest to the marijuana grower. The most important characteristic to enthusiasts is the quality or potency of the grass they'll grow.

Potency is mostly a factor of heredity. The quality of the grass you grow depends on how good its parents were, so choose seeds from the grass you like best.

The environment has an impact, too, but it can only work on what is contained in the seed. A potent harvest depends on an environment which encourages the seed to develop to a full and potent maturity. The way to begin is to find the most potent grass you can; then you will have taken the first step.


Cannabis is unique in many ways. Of all plants, it is the only genus known to produce chemical substances known as cannabinoids. The cannabinoids are the psychoactive ingredients of marijuana; they are what get you high. By 1974, 37 naturally occurring cannabinoids had been discovered 115,118. Most of the cannabinoids appear in very small amounts (less than .01 percent of total cannabinoids) and are not considered psychoactive, or else not important to the high. Many are simply homologues or analogues (similar structure or function) to the few major cannabinoids which are listed.

1. (-)-{triangle}9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol ((There are several numbering systems used for cannabinoids. The system in this book is most common in American publications and is based on formal chemical rules for numbering pyran compounds. Another common system is used more by Europeans and is based on a monoterpenoid system which is more useful considering the biogenesis of the compound.)) This (delta-9 THC) is the main psychotomimetic (mindbending) ingredient of marijuana. Estimates state that 70 to 100 percent (121) of the marijuana high results from the delta-9 THC present. It occurs in almost all Cannabis in concentration that vary from traces to about 95 percent of all the cannabinoids in the sample. In very potent varieties, carefully prepared marijuana can have up to 12 percent delta-9 THC by dry weight of the sample (seeds and stems removed from flowering buds). (("Buds" of commercial marijuana is the popular name given to masses of female flowers that form distinct clusters.))
Delta-8 THC - This substance is reported in low concentration, less than one percent of the delta-9 THC present. Its activity is slightly less than that of delta-9 THC. It may be an artefact of the extraction/analysis process. Here we refer to delta-9 THC and delta-8 THC as THC.
2. Cannabidiol - CBD also occurs in almost all varieties. Concentration range from nil (119,138), to about 95 percent of the total cannabinoids present. THC and CBD are the two most abundant naturally occurring cannabinoids. CBD is not psychotomimetic in the pure form (192), although it does have sedative, analgesic, and antibiotic properties. In order for CBD to affect the high, THC must be present in quantities ordinarily psychoactive. CBD can contribute to the high by interacting with THC to potentiate (enhance) or antagonise (interfere or lessen) certain qualities of the high. CBD appears to potentiate the depressant effects of THC and antagonise is excitatory effects (186). CBD also delays the onset of the high (183) but can make it last considerably longer (as much as twice as long). (The grass takes a while to come on but keeps coming on.) Opinions are conflicting as to whether it increases or decreases the intensity of the high, "intensity" and high" being difficult to define. Terms such as knock-out or sleepy, dreamlike, or melancholic are often used to describe the high from grass with sizeable proportions of CBD and THC. When only small amounts of THC are present with high proportions of CBD, the high is more of a buzz, and the mind feels dull and the body de-energised. {See Figure 11 to 16 for chemical structure in monochrome bitmap format.}
3. Cannabinol - CBN is not produced by the plant per se. It is the degradation (oxidative) product of THC. Fresh samples of marijuana contain very little CBN but curing, poor storage, or processing such as when making hashish, can cause much of the THC to be oxidised to CBN. Pure forms of CBN have at most 10 percent of the psychoactivity of THC (192). Like CBD, it is suspected of potentiating certain aspects of the high, although so far these affects appear to be slight (183,185). CBN seems to potentiate THC's disorienting qualities. One may feel more dizzy or drugged or generally untogether but not necessarily higher. In fact, with a high proportion of CBN, the high may start well but feels as if it never quite reaches its peak, and when coming down one feels tired or sleepy. High CBN in homegrown grass is not desirable since it represents a loss of 90 percent of the psychoactivity of its precursor THC.
4. Tetrahydrocannabivarin - THCV is the propyl homologue of THC. In the aromatic ring the usual five-carbon pentyl is replaced by a short three-carbon propyl chain. The propyl cannabinoids have so far been found in some varieties originating from Southeast and Central Asia and parts of Africa. What are considered some very potent marijuana varieties contain propyl cannabinoids. In one study, THCV made up to 48.23 percent (Afghanistan strain) and 53.69 percent (South Africa) of the cannabinoids found (136). We've seen no reports on its activity in humans. From animal studies it appears to be much faster in onset and quicker to dissipate than THC (181). It may be the constituent of one- or two-toke grass, but its activity appears to be somewhat less than that of THC.
The propyl cannabinoids are a series corresponding to the usual pentyl cannabinoids. The counterpart of CBD is CBDV; and of CBN, CBV. There are no reports on their activity and for now we can only speculate that they are similar to CBD and CBN. Unless noted otherwise, in this book THC refers collectively to delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC, and THCV.
5. Cannabichromene - CBC is another major cannabinoid, although it is found in smaller concentrations than CBD and THC. It was previously believed that is was a minor constituent, but more exacting analysis showed that the compound often reported as CBD may actually be CBC (119,137). However, relative to THC and CBD, its concentration in the plants is low, probably not exceeding 20 percent of total cannabinoids. CBC is believed not to be psychotomimetic in humans (121); however, its presence in plants is purportedly very potent has led to the suspicion that it may be interacting with THC to enhance the high (137). Cannabicyclol (CBL) is a degradative product like CBN and CBV (123). During extraction, light converts CBC to CBL. There are no reports on its activity in humans, and it is found in small amounts, if at all, in fresh plant material.
2.2 Cannabinoids and the High

The marijuana high is a complex experience. It involves a wide range of psychical, physical, and emotional responses. The high is a subjective experience based in the individual - one's personality, mood, disposition, and experience with the drug. Given the person, the intensity of the high depends primarily on the amount of THC present in the marijuana. Delta-9 THC is the main ingredient of marijuana and must be present in sufficient quantities for a good marijuana high. People who smoke grass that has very little cannabinoids other then delta-9 THC usually report that the high is very intense. Most people will get high from a joint having delta-9 THC of .5 percent concentration to material. Grass having a THC concentration of three percent would be considered excellent quality by anyone's standards. In this book, for brevity, we use potency to mean the sum effects of the cannabinoids and the overall high induced.

Marijuana (plant material) is sometimes rated more potent that the content of delta-9 THC alone would suggest. It also elicits qualitatively different highs. The reasons for this have not been sorted out. Few clinical studies with known combinations of several cannabinoids have been undertaken with human subjects. This field is still in its infancy. So far, different highs and possibly higher potency seem to be due to the interaction of delta-9 THC and other cannabinoids (THCV,CBD,CBN, and possibly CBC). Except for THCV, in the pure form, these other cannabinoids do not have much psychoactivity.

Another possibility for higher potency is that homologues of delta-9 THC with longer side chains at C-3 (and higher activity) might be found in certain marijuana varieties. Compounds with longer side chains have been mode in laboratories and their activity is sometimes much higher, with estimates over 500 times that of natural delta-9 THC (55,113,191). Compounds besides THCV with shorter chains (methyl (139) and butyl (118)) in this position have been found in small amounts in some marijuana samples, indicating that variations do exist. However, this is not a very likely explanation. More likely, THCV is more prevalent in marijuana than supposed and probably had additive or synergistic effects with delta-9 THC.

The possibility that there are non-cannabinoids that are psychoactive or interacting with the cannabinoids has not been investigated in detail. Non-cannabinoids with biological activity have been isolated from the plants, but only in very small quantities (181). None are known to be psychotomimetic. However, they may contribute to the overall experience in non-mental ways, such as the stimulation of the appetite.

Different blends of cannabinoids account for high of different qualities. The intensity of the high depends primarily on the amount of delta-9 THC present and on the method of ingestion. A complex drug such as marijuana affects the mind and body in many ways. Sorting out what accounts for what response can become quite complex. The methodology to isolate and test the different cannabinoids now exists. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is funding research on the pharmacology of marijuana. However, such research is paltry, considering that over 30 million people in the United States use the crude drug. Much more research is needed before definite understanding of the cannabinoids and the high is attained.

When the legal restriction are removed, marijuana will probably be sold by particular blends of cannabinoids and standard amounts of delta-9 THC. Synthetic marijuana will probably be made with homologues of delta-9 THC that have much higher activity than the natural form. For now, without access to a lab, you must be satisfied with your own smoking evaluation (for research purposes only), ultimately the most important criterion any way.

2.3 Resin and Resin Glands

Many people consider potency and resin concentration synonymous. People hear of plants oozing or gushing with copious resin, and the image is of resin flowing in the plant like the latex of a rubber tree or the sap of a maple tree. But these visions are just pipe dreams.

It is quite possible to have a resinous plant with little potency or a plant with little apparent resin which is very potent. Potency depends primarily on the concentration of THC in the plant material. Many more substances besides the cannabinoids make up the crude resin of Cannabis. Preparations such as ghanja or hashish are roughly about one-third by weight non-psychoactive water-soluble substances and cellular debris. Another third is non-psychoactive resins such as phenoloic and terpenoid polymers, glycerides, and triterpenes. Only one-fourth to one-third is the cannabinoids. In many Cannabis plants, THC may be only a very small percentage of the total cannabinoids. ((These figures are very approximate. Actual percentages depend on sample material, processing, and extraction procedures. See Table 8 and 9 for percentages of THC in hashish.)) The remainder (5 to 10 percent) of the resin will be essential oils, sterols, fatty acids, and various hydrocarbons common to plants.

Table 8 - Seized Hashish (a) 

                         Range of Percentage of
Greece                   1 - 15.8    1.4 - 11.1
Nepal                    1.5 - 10.9  8.8 - 15.1
Afghanistan              1.7 - 15    1.8 - 10.3
Pakistan                 2.3 - 8.7   6.8(b)

a Figures compiled from many sources.
b Only one figure reported

Table 9 - Relative Percentages of Major Cannabinoids from Hashish and Resin
                       Average Percentages of
COUNTRY                THC      CBD      CBN
Afghanistan            52       36       12
Burma                  15.7     16.3     68
Jamaica                77.5      9.1     13.4
Lebanon                32.2     62.5      5.3
Morocco                55       34.2     10.8
Nigeria                53.7      9.3     37
Pakistan               35.7     48.3     16.1
South Africa           75.6      8.4       16

a Each row sums to 100%

The cannabinoids basically do not flow in the plant, nor are they the plant's sap. About 80 to 90 percent of the cannabinoids are synthesised ad stored in microscopic resin glands that appear on the outer surfaces of all plant parts except the root and seed. the arrangement and number (concentration) of resin glands vary somewhat with the particular strain examined. Marijuana varieties generally have more resin glands, and they are larger then resin glands on non-drug varieties.

Although resin glands are structurally diverse, they are of three basic types. The bulbous type is the smallest (15-30 um ((um is the symbol for a micrometer (or micron), equal to 1/1,000,000 of a meter, or approximately 1/25,000 of an inch.)) or about .0006 to .0012 inches). From one to four cells make up the "foot" and "stalk," and one to four cells make up the "head" of the gland (25). Head cells secrete a resin - presumably cannabinoids - oils, and related compounds which accumulate between the head cells and the outer membrane (cuticle). When the gland matures, a nipple-like outpocket may form on the membrane from the pressure of the accumulating resin. The bulbous glands are found scattered about the surfaces of the above-ground plant parts.

The second type of gland is much larger and more numerous than the bulbous glands. The are called "capitate," which means having a globular-shaped head. On immature plants, the heads lie flush or appear not to have a stalk and are called "capitate sessile." They actually have a stalk that is one cell high, although it may not be visible beneath the globular head. The head is composed of usually eight, but up to 16 cells, that form a convex rosette. These cells secrete a cannabinoid-rich resin which accumulates between the rosette and its outer membrane. This gives it a spherical shape, and the gland measures from 25 to 100 um across. In fresh plant material about 80 to 90 percent of their contents will be cannabinoids, the rest primarily essential oils (146).

During flowering the capitate glands that appear on the newly formed plant parts take on a third form. Some of the glands are raised to a height of 150 to 500 um when their talks elongate, possibly due to their greater activity. The stalk is composed mostly of adjacent epidermal tissue. These capitate-stalked glands appear during flowering and form their densest cover on the female flower bracts. They are also highly concentrated on the small leaves that accompany the flowers of fine marijuana varieties. Highest concentration is along the veins of the lower leaf surface, although the glands may also be found on the upper leaf surface on some varieties. The male flowers have stalked glands on the sepals, but they are smaller and less concentrated than on the female bracts. Male flowers form a row of very large capitate glands along the opposite sides of anthers.

Capitate-stalked resin glands are the only ones visible without a microscope. To the naked eye, this covering of glands on the female flower bracts looks like talcum or dew sprinkled on a fuzzy surface. With a strong hand lens, the heads and stalks are distinct. Resin glands also can be seen on the anthers of the male flowers and on the undersides of the small leaves the intersperse the flower clusters.

{Figure 17.  Upper surface of a small leaf, showing stalked glands.}
{Figure 18.  Resin glands on a stem lie close to the surface beneath the
cystolith hairs.  Hairs always point in direction of growing shoots.}

Resin glands are not visible until flowers form. The more obvious covering of white hairs seen on stems, petioles, and leaves are not resin glands. They are cystolith hairs of carbonate and silicate which are common to many plants. These sharp-pointed hairs afford the plant some protection from insects and make it less palatable to larger, plant-eating animals.

In India, to make the finest quality hashish (nup), dried plants are thrashed over screens. Gland heads, stalks and trichomes collect in a white to golden powder which is then compressed into hashish (for hashmaking search section 21 for "hash").

Resin rarely accumulates in the copious quantities people would lead you to believe. Actually, the plants form a cover of resin glands rather than a coating of resin. Usually this is no more apparent than for the female flowers to glisten with pin-points of light and for the leaves and stems to feel a bit sticky when you run your fingers over them.

On some fine marijuana strains, resin may become obvious by the end of flowering and seed set. Resins occasionally secrete through pores in the membrane of gland heads. Usually secretion occurs many weeks after the stalked glands appear. The glands seem to empty their contents, leaving hollow spaces (vacuoles) in the stalk and head cells. After secretion, the glands cease to function and begin to degenerate. Gland heads, stalks, and trichomes become clumped together, and the whole flowering surface becomes a sticky mass. For reasons we'll go into later, this is not necessarily desirable. (see sections 20,21.)

Small quantities of cannabinoids are present in the internal tissues of the plant. The bulk is found in small single cells (non-articulated laticifers) that elongate to form small, individual resin canals. The resin canals ramify the developing shoots, and penetrate the plant's conducting tissue (phloem). Minute clumps of resin found in the phloem are probably deposited by these resin canals. Other plant cells contain insignificant amounts of cannabinoids and probably a good 90 percent of the cannabinoids are localised in the resin glands.

Cannabinoid synthesis seems to occur primarily in the head and apex of the stalk cells of the resin glands (26). Lacticifers and possibly other plant cells probably contribute by synthesising the simpler molecules that will eventually make up the cannabinoids. Biosynthesis (the way the plant makes the molecules) of the cannabinoids is believed to follow a scheme originally outlined by A.R. Todd in his paper "Hashish," published in 1946 (see Figure 19). In the 1960s the pathway was worked out by Raphal Mechoulam, and confirmed in 1975 by Dr. Shimomura and his associates.

{Figure 19.  Possible biosynthesis of cannabinoids.}

Notice that all the cannabinoids are their acid forms with a (COOH) carboxyl group at C-2 in the aromatic ring. This group may also appear at C-4 and the compounds are called, for example, THC acid "A" and THC acid "B", respectively. The position of the carboxyl group does not affect the potency, but, in fact, in their acid forms the cannabinoids are not psychoactive. In fresh plant material, cannabinoids are almost entirely inn their acid forms. The normal procedure of curing and smoking the grass (heat) removes the carboxyl group, forming the gas CO2 and the psychoactive neutral cannabinoids. Removing the CO2 in important only if you plan to eat the marijuana. It is then necessary to apply heat (baking in brownies, for example) for the cannabinoids to become psychoactive. Ten minutes of baking marijuana at 200F is enough to convert the THC acids to neutral THC.

The formation of CBG acid, from which all the other cannabinoids are formed, is initially made from much simpler compounds containing terpene units. The example here is olivetolic acid condensing with a terpene moiety called geranyl pyrophosphate. It is not known whether these are the actual or only precursors to CBG in the living plant.

Terpenes and related substances are quite light and some of them can be extracted by steam distillation to yield the "essential oil" of the plant (from essence - giving the flavour, aroma, character). Over 30 of these related oily substances have been identified from Cannabis (143). On exposure to light and air, some of the polymerise, forming resins and tars.

The cannabinoids are odourless; most of the sweet, distinctive, pleasant "minty" fragrance and taste of fresh marijuana comes from only five substances which make up only 5 to 10 percent of the essential oils: the mono- and sesqui-terpenes alpha- and beta-pinene, limonene, myrcene, and beta-phalandrene (144). These oily substances are volatile and enter the air quickly, dissipating with time. Subsequently, the marijuana loses much of its sweetness and minty bouquet.

The essential oils constitute about .1 to .3 percent of the dry weight of a fresh marijuana sample, or on the order of 10 percent of the weight of the cannabinoids. Essential oils are found within the heads of the resin glands and make up about 10 to 20 percent of their contents in fresh material (146). They have also been detected in the resin canals (laticifers) (31).

Different samples of Cannabis have essential oils of different composition. This is not surprising given the variability of the plant. Since substances found in the essential oils are, or are related to, substances that are the precursors of the cannabinoids, there is some chance that a relationship exists between a particular bouquet and cannabinoids content. No such relationship is yet known, but it has only been studied superficially. When connoisseurs sample the bouquet of a grass sample, they are basically determining whether it is fresh. Fresh grass mean fresh cannabinoids and less of these are likely to have been degraded to non-psychoactive products.

2.4 Production of Cannabinoids by Cannabis

Why Cannabis produces cannabinoids and resins is a question probably every grower has wondered about. Supposedly, if you know, you could stimulate an environmental factor to increase cannabinoids production. Unfortunately, it does not follow that increasing a particular selective pressure will affect a plant's (phenotype) cannabinoids production. However, over a period of generations, it is possible that environmental manipulations can increase the overall cannabinoids concentrations in a population of plants. But even this procedure would work slowly compared to direct breeding by the farmer.

From the microstructure of the resin glands and the complexity of the resin, it is apparent that Cannabis invests considerable energy in making and storing the cannabinoids. Obviously, the cannabinoids are not a simple by-product or excretory product. No doubt the cannabinoids and resins serve the plant in many ways, but probably they have more to do with biotic factors (other living things) rather than abiotic factors (non-living environment such as sunlight, moisture, etc.).

The cannabinoids, resins, and related substances make up a complex and biologically highly active group of chemicals, a virtual chemical arsenal from which the plant draws its means for dealing with other organisms. This would apply especially to herbivores, pathogens, and competing plants. In the case of humans, the cannabinoids are an attractant. Some possible advantages to the plant are listed below, but no direct studies have been done on this question. Indeed, it is surprising that botanists have shown so little interest in this question; they have even gone out of their way to state their lack of interest.

Possible Advantages of Cannabinoid Production

1. Obviously the cannabinoids are psychoactive and physiologically active in many animals. This may dissuade plant-eating animals from eating the plant, especially the reproductive parts. Many birds enjoy Cannabis seeds. But in nature, birds will not bother young seeds, probably because they are encased in the cannabinoids-rich bracts. In wild or weedy plants, when the seed is mature it "shells out" and falls to the ground. Birds will eat the naked seeds. However, matured seeds are quite hard. Many will not be cracked and eventually will be dropped elsewhere, helping the plant to propagate. Bees and other insects are attracted to the pollen. The cannabinoids and resins may deter insects from feeding on pollen and developing seeds. Resin glands reach their largest size on the anthers (which hold pollen) and bracts (which contain the seed). {See plates 6, 7, 10 and 11.} 2. Terpenoid and phenolic resins are known to inhibit germination of some seeds. Cannabis resins may help Cannabis seedlings compete with other seedlings by inhibiting their germination. 3. Many of the cannabinoids (CBD, CBG, CBC and their acids) are highly active antibiotics against a wide range of bacteria (almost all are gram +) (36,130,184). Crude resin extracts have been shown to be nematocidal (36). (However, fungicidal activity is low.)

Most of the explanations you've probably heard for resin production from both lore and scientists have to do with physical factors such as sunlight, heat, and dryness. Presumably the resin coats the plant, protecting it from drying out under physical extremes. These explanations make little sense in light of the resins' chemistry.

The physical qualities of the glands and resins probably aid the plant in some ways. The sticky nature of resin may help pollen grains to adhere to the flowering mass and stigmas, or simply make the plant parts less palatable. And gland heads do absorb and reflect considerable sunlight, and so possibly protect the developing seed. For instance, gland heads are at first colourless (i.e., they absorb ultraviolet light). This screening of ultraviolet light, a known mutagen, may lower possible deleterious mutations. But physical properties seem to be secondary to the resins' chemical properties as functional compounds to the plant.

2.5 Cannabis Chemotypes

All Cannabis plants produce some cannabinoids. Each strain produces characteristic amounts of particular cannabinoids. Strains differ in the total amounts they contain. Usually they average about three percent cannabinoids to dry weight, but concentrations range from about one to 12 percent cannabinoids in a cleaned (seeds and stems removed), dried bud. Strains also differ in which cannabinoids they produce. Based on which cannabinoids, Cannabis strains can be divided into five broad chemical groups.((Chemical classification based on work by Small et al (51))) The general trend is for plants to have either THC or CBD as the main cannabinoid.

Type I

Strains are high in THC and low in CBD. This type represents some of the finest marijuana strains. They usually originate from tropical zones below 30 degrees latitude, which in the north runs through Houston and New Orleans to Morocco, North India, and Shanghai, and in the south through Rio de Janeiro, South Africa, and Australia. Most of the high-quality marijuana from Mexico, Jamaica, and Colombia sols in this country is this type; most of you will grow this type. As with all five chemical types, type I comes in different sizes and shapes. Most common are plant about 10 to 12 feet tall (outdoors), quite bushy, with branches that grow outward to form the plant into a cone (Christmas tree shape). Other tall varieties (to 18 feet) have branches that grow upward (poplar-tree shaped - some Mexican, Southeast and Central Asian varieties). A less common short variety (up to eight feet) develops several main stems and the plants appear to sprawl (Mexico, India).

Type II

This is an intermediate group, with high CBD and moderate to high THC. They usually originate from countries bordering 30 degrees latitude, such as Morocco, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In this country, this type of grass usually comes from Afghani and Colombian varieties. Type II plants are quite variable in the intensity and quality of the high they produce, depending on the relative amounts of THC and CBD in the variety. Probably because of their high CBD and overall resin content, these plants are often sued to prepare hashish and other concentrated forms of marijuana. The most common varieties grow to about eight to 12 feet and assume a poplar-tree shape with long branches that grow upward from the stem base and much shorter branches toward the top. They usually come from Turkey, Greece, and Central or Southeast Asia and occasionally from Colombia and Mexico. Some varieties are shorter, about four to eight feet at maturity, and very bushy with a luxuriant covering of leaves. These usually originate from Nepal, northern India, and other parts of Central Asia as well as North Africa. Other varieties appear remarkably like short (five to seven feet) hemp plants, with straight, slender stems and small, weakly developed branches (Vietnam). A common short variety, less than four feet tall (Lebanon, N. Africa), forms a continuous dense cluster of buds along its short stem. They appear remarkably like the upper half of more common marijuana plants.

{Figure 20.  Left: This Pakistani variety ("indica") reaches a height of
five feet (large leaves removed).  Right: Flowering top two months later.}

Type III

Plants are high in CBD and low in THC. These are often cultivated for hemp fibre or oil seed. Usually they originate from countries north of 30 degrees latitude. As marijuana they yield a low-potency grass and are considered non-drug varieties. If you choose your seeds from potent grass, it will not be this type. An example of these plants are Midwestern weedy hemps which are often collected and sold for low-grade domestic grass. The high CBD content can make you feel drowsy with a mild headache long before you feel high. These plants are very diverse morphologically even when categorised by cultivated types. Hemp plants are usually tell (eight to 20 feet) with an emphasis on stem development and minimal branching. Starting from the base, long, even internodes (stem portion from one set of leaves to the next pair) and opposite phyllotaxy (see 3.2) cover a good portion of the stem. Some varieties form long, sparse branches only on the upper portion of the stem (many Midwest weeds). Other varieties (Kentucky hemp) are the familiar Christmas-tree shape.
Seed varieties are usually short (two to eight feet) and very bushy. Branches on some are short, grow outward and are all of approximately the same length, giving the plant a cylindrical shape. Some of the shorter (two to three feet) seed varieties have undeveloped branches, and almost all of the seeds collect in a massive cluster along the top portion of the stalk. Seed plants are often the most unusual-appearing of Cannabis plants, and you won't find them in the United States.
As expected, the figures for average THC in Midwestern weeds are quite low. this is consistent with their reputation for low potency. But the range of THC goes up to 2.37 percent in the Illinois study. This is comparable with some of the higher-quality imported marijuana and is consistent with some people's claims that Midwestern weeds provided them with great highs.

Type IV

Varieties that produce propyl cannabinoids in significant amounts (over five percent of total cannabinoids) form a fourth group from both type I and II plants. Testing for the propyl cannabinoids has been limited and most reports do not include them. They have been found in plants from South Africa, Nigeria, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Nepal with THCV as high as 53.69 percent of total cannabinoids (136). They usually have moderate to high levels of both THC and CBD and hence have a complex cannabinoid chemistry. Type IV plants represent some of the world's more exotic marijuana varieties.

A fifth type, based on the production of CBGM, which is not psychoactive, is found in northeastern Asia, including Japan, Korea and China. This type is not relevant to us and will not be mentioned again.

There are many different techniques for sampling, extraction, and estimation of cannabinoids in plant material. To minimise differences among research groups, the above data (except for Midwestern weedy hemps) are taken from studies at the University of Mississippi at Oxford (66,119,136).

Unfortunately, some of the best Colombian, Mexican and Thai varieties are not included in the data. Many of these have not been tested until recently, and the figures are not yet published. Under the system for testing at the University of Mississippi, the highest THC variety reached six to eight percent THC in a bud. These seeds originated from Mexico.

{See Table 01 to 10.}

These five chemical types are not distinct entities; that is, each type contains several quite different-appearing varieties. Actually, varieties of different types may look more similar than varieties from the same type. But the ability to produce characteristic amounts of particular cannabinoids is genetically based. This means the each type contains certain genes and gene combinations in common, and in biological terms, the plants are called chemical genotypes.

These types may be from virtually any country simply because of the plant's past and ongoing history of movement. the first three can be found in most countries where Cannabis is heavily cultivated, although marijuana plants (types I, II, IV) usually originate from lower latitudes nearer the equator. This may be simply explained in terms of cultural practices. Marijuana traditionally has been cultivated in southerly cultures such as India, Southeast and Central Asia, Africa; and in the West in Mexico, Colombia, Jamaica, and Central American countries. On the other hand, useful characteristics must exist before cultures can put them to use after selection. And the characteristic (drug or fibre) must maintain itself within the local environment (see 18.4).

Non-drug types (type III) usually originate at higher latitudes with shorter growing seasons. A definite gradation exists for non-drug to drug types, starting in temperate zones and moving toward the equator. The same gradation may be found for the appearance of propyl cannabinoids toward the equator. This doesn't mean that the quality of the grass you grow depends on whether you live in the north or south, but that over a period of years and decades, a group of plants may drift toward either the drug or the non-drug type (either rich in THC or rich in CBD).

The majority of the marijuana sold in the United States has less than one percent THC; and the bulk of this comes from Mexican and domestic sources. The highest percentages of THC in marijuana that we've seen are: Colombian (9.7), Mexican (13.2), Hawaiian (7.8), and Thai sticks (20.2; however, this is believed to be adulterated with hash oil). The percentages of THC reported vary greatly, because they depend on the particular method of sampling and estimation used.

Five samples of Colombian Golds, bought in New York City and San Francisco for from $30 to $50 (1976) an ounce, averaged 2.59 percent THC and 1.27 percent CBN. The CBN represents an average of about one-third of the THC originally present in the fresh plant by the time it reaches American streets. This is one advantage that homegrowers have, since their marijuana is fresh. In fresh plant material, less than 10 percent of the THC will have been converted to CBN, as long as the material is properly harvested, cured, and stored.

By the time hashish reaches the American market, THC content is usually at the low end of the ranges given here, usually between 1.5 and 4 percent THC. The darker outer layer of hashish is caused by deterioration. The inner part will contain the highest concentration of THC.

The average range for hash oil and red oil is 12 to 25 percent when it is fresh. It is not uncommon for illicit hash oil to have more than 60 percent THC. However, light, as well as air, very rapidly decomposes THC in the oil form (see the section on "Storage" in section 21). You can't tell whether the oil will be wondrous or worthless unless you smoke it.

The preparations listed in Tables 9 and 10 are relatively fresh compared to hashish on the American market. Total cannabinoids make up roughly 25 to 35 percent by weight of hashish and resin preparations. Note that the data in these tables are relative concentrations.

Table 10 -Relative Percentages of Major Cannabinoids in Hashish from Nepal Percentage(a) of THC HASHISH THC CBD CBN THCV CBDV CBV LOST(b) Sample 1 11.5 35.9 22.1 5.7 12.5 12.3 66 Sample 2 3.4 41.1 24.8 3 11.9 15.8 88 Sample 3 5.5 41.2 30.3 2.3 9.1 11.6 85 a Each row in these columns sums to 100% b Percentage of original THC lost as CBN

The very high figures for CBN in hashish indicate that much of the THC is converted to CBN because of processing and aging. During hashmaking many of the gland heads are broken and the THC is exposed to light and air. The figures in these tables are typical of what to expect for relative concentrations of THC in hashish on the American market. Actual concentrations are roughly one-fourth to one-third of these figures.

Obviously, THC percentages for hashish and tinctures are not that high compared to fine marijuana. Hashish in the United States seldom lives up to its reputation. The best buy in terms of the amount of THC for the money is hash oil when it is high quality and fresh. More often a fine homegrown sinsemilla or sometimes a lightly seeded Colombian is the best investment. (Of course, the best value is always what you grow yourself.)

Chapter Three

3.2 Choosing Seeds

Popular Market names of different grades of grass, such as Colombian commercial and Mexican regular, are familiar to growers, but each grade actually may encompass many different varieties. For example, there are Colombian Golds that are similar in most respects, but some varieties grow no taller than six feet. The more common types grow 12 to 15 feet under the same conditions. Some Oaxacan Cannabis forms several strong upright branches by maturity, and at a glance may seem to have several stems, yet more often, Oaxacan is conical-shaped and grows about 12 feet.

Most of the fine marijuana sold in this country comes from type I plants with THC as the predominant cannabinoid. Type II plants are less common. You might recognise type II plants by the high. The grass takes longer before its effects are felt, but the high lasts much longer than with other marijuana. Type IV plants are the least common; this marijuana seldom reaches the general American market. This type will get you high after only a few tokes. Type III plants are considered non-drug varieties because they are predominantly CBD with little THC. The effects of CBD are not felt unless it is accompanied by a sizeable concentration of THC, such as in type II plants. However, a lot of marijuana from these plants is sold in the United States. Some Mexican and Jamaican regular and much of the low-grade domestic is harvested from type III plants.

You may not be able to tell what type plant you're smoking, but you can tell what you like. Seeds from high-quality marijuana will grow into high-quality marijuana plants. If you like the grass you're smoking, you'll like the grass you grow.

The name of your grass has little to do with potency and may have originated in the mind of some enterprising dealer. Always choose your seeds from what you consider to be the best grass. Don't be swayed by exotic names. If you are not familiar with grass of connoisseur quality, ask someone whose experience you respect for seeds. Smokers tend to save seeds from exceptional grass even if they never plan to plant them.

The origin of your grass even if you knew it for certain, has little to do with wether it will be dynamite or worthless smoke. In both India(45) and Brazil, hemp is grown which is worthless for marijuana. Likewise, extremely potent marijuana plants grow which are useless for hemp fibre. These plants are sometimes found growing in adjacent fields. Most of the fine-quality marijuana varieties develop in those countries nearer to the equator. How much this had to do with environmental conditions or cultural practices is unknown. In either case, marijuana traffic has been so heavy that fine varieties now grow all over the world. For example, in the United States thousands of people now grow varieties from Mexico. These fine varieties originated in Asia and Africa, and many were brought to Mexican farmers by American dealers during the 1960s. As more farmers grew these new varieties, the quality of Mexican grass imported to the United States improved. Already people are speaking of varieties such as Maui Wowie and Kona Gold.

The colour of the grass does not determine its potency. Marijuana plants are almost always green, the upper surface of the leaves a dark, luxuriant green, and the undersurface a lighter, paler green. Some varieties develop reds and purples along stems and leaf petioles. Occasionally, even the leaves turn red/purple during the last stages of growth (plate 6). Grasses termed "Red" more often get their colour from the stigmas of the female flowers, which can turn from white to a rust or red colour, giving the marijuana buds a distinct reddish tinge. The golds and browns of commercial grasses are determined by the condition of the plant when it was harvested - whether it was healthy (green) or dying (autumn colours). How the plants are harvested, cured, and stored also has a serious effect on colour. Commercial grasses from Colombia, Mexico, and Jamaica are often poorly cured and packed. Too much moisture is left in the grass, encouraging microbial decomposition; with warm temperatures, whatever green was left disappears, leaving the more familiar browns and golds. Bythe time they reach the United States, commercial grasses lose about five to 20 percent of their weight in water loss and often smell mouldy or musty.

Colour also depends on origin - varieties adapted to tropical or high-altitude areas have less chlorophyll and more accessory pigments, giving the plant their autumn colours (accessory pigments protect the plant from excessive sunlight). Varieties adapted to northern climates, where sunlight is less intense, have more chlorophyll and less accessory pigments. The dying leaves often turn light yellow, grey, or rust. Variations in pigment concentrations are also influenced by local light particularly the soil conditions under which the plants are grown.

The taste of the smoke - its flavour, aroma, and harshness - also depends more on when the marijuana was harvested and how it was handled after it was grown than on the variety or environmental influences.

You can detect subtle differences in the overall bouquet between freshly picked varieties. The environment probably influences bouquet too, but with most commercial grass the harvesting/storing procedures for outweigh these other, more subtle factors. A musty, harsh-smoking Colombian marijuana can give the mildest, sweetest, homegrown smoke when properly prepared. Don't be influenced by the marijuana's superficial characteristics. Choose seeds from the most potent grass.

Grasses of comparable potency can yield plants of different potencies. This is because fine sinsemilla (homegrown, Hawaiians, Thai weeds, and some Mexicans) are carefully tended and harvested at about peak potency. They are also cured and packed well; so they are fresh when they are distributed in the American market. When you smoke them you are experiencing the at about its peak potency. The seeds you plant from this grass will produce plants, at best, of about equal potency. Sometimes they are slightly less simply because of differences in growing conditions. Colombian grasses are not usually harvested at their peak potency. A significant amount (20 percent and up) of the active cannabinoids (THC,CBD) are converted to much less active cannabinoids (CBN,CBS) or inactive ingredients (polymers-tars, resins, oils, etc.). This is also true of many Mexican and Jamaican grasses that are heavily seeded and poorly handled. Homegrown from this grass can produce plants of higher potency than the original, simply because the homegrown is fresh, and is harvested and cured well so that the THC content is at its peak.

When choosing seeds you might consider the following Broad Generalisations. Mexican, Jamaican (if you can find goof Jamaican anymore), and homegrowns, including Hawaiians, often develop quickly and have a better chance of fully maturing in the shorter growing seasons over most of the north and central states. Colombian, African, and Southeast Asian varieties, such as Vietnam and Thai sticks (from Thailand and Japan), more often need a longer season to fully develop/ Under natural conditions they seldom flower in the short growing season that covers the northern United States.

For indoor growers, the growing season is all year; so it doesn't matter if plants need longer to develop. Mexican and Jamaican plants usually reach full potency in about six months. Colombian and Southeast Asian varieties may need eight or nine months until they reach their maximum THC or general resin content under indoor conditions.

The grass you choose should have a good stock of mature seeds. Thai weed and fine homegrowns (sinsemillas, which are by definition female flowers buds without seeds) may have no seeds at all but more often have a few viable seeds. Most Colombian and Mexican grasses contain between one and two thousand seeds per ounce bag or lid of grass. This may sound like an exaggerated figure, but it's not. Look at the photos in Figure 21 showing the yield from some Michoacan buds. The yield is 40 percent grass (1.22 grams, about three joints), 50 percent seeds (1.56 grams or 120 seeds), and 10 percent stems (0.3 grams).

Relative to smoking material, seeds are heavy. Colombian grasses average about 50 percent seeds by weight. A film canister holds about 1,200 Colombian seeds. {Figure 21, Seeded buds often contain more weight in seeds than grass}

Depending on the variety, healthy mature seeds (which are botanically achene nots) vary in size between 1/12 and 1/4 inches in length. From any variety, choose seeds that are plump and well-formed with well-developed colour. Seed colours range from a buff through a dark brown, and from light grey to almost black colours. Often seeds are mottled with brown or black spots, bars, or lines on a lighter field {plate 11}. Green or whitish seeds are usually immature and will germinate feebly if at all. Fresh seeds have a waxy glimmer and a hard, intact shell. Shiny, very dark brown or black seeds often mean the contents are fermented and the embryo is dead. Fermented seeds crush easily with finger pressure and are hollow or dust inside. Seeds that are bruised or crushed are also not viable. This happens to some seeds when grass is compressed or bricked.

Fresh, fully matured Cannabis seeds have a high rate of germination; 90 percent or better is typical. It is sometimes helpful to have an idea of how many seeds to expect to germinate. You can tell simply by placing a sample number between wet paper towels which are kept moist. Most of the seeds that germinate do so within a few days of each other. After a week or two, count how many of the original seeds germinated. This gives you a rough idea of what to expect from the seeds when planted.

The viability of seeds gradually declines with time; left in the ground, only 40 percent may germinate next season. Seeds are n ideal pray for many fungi, which are responsible for most of their deterioration. In a warm (70F or over) and humid atmosphere, fungi rapidly destroy seeds. If kept cool and dry in an airtight container, seeds stored in this way and left in the buds also maintain high viability for over two years.


Marijuana plants may belong to any one of a number of varieties which follow somewhat different growth patterns. The following outline describes the more common form of growth. Differences between varieties can be thought of as variations on this standard theme.

Cannabis is an annual plant. A single season completes a generation, leaving all hope for the future to the seeds. The normal life cycle follows the general pattern described below.


With winter past, the moisture and warmth of spring stir activity in the embryo. Water is absorbed and the embryo's tissues swell and grow, splitting the seed along its suture. The radical or embryonic root appears first. Once clear of the seed, the root directs growth downward in response to gravity. Meanwhile, the seed is being lifted upward by growing cells which form the seedling's stem. Now anchored by the roots, and receiving water and nutrients, the embryonic leaves (cotyledons) unfold. They are a pair of small, somewhat oval, simple leaves, now green with chlorophyll to absorb the life-giving light. Germination is complete. The embryo has been reborn and is now a seedling living on the food it produces through photosynthesis. The process of germination is usually completed in three to 10 days.


The second pair of leaves begins the seedling stage. They are set opposite each other and usually have a single blade. They differ from the embryonic leaves by their larger size, spearhead shape, and serrated margins. With the next pair of leaves that appears, usually each leaf has three blades and is larger still. A basic pattern has been set. Each new set of leaves will be larger, with a higher number of blades per leaf until, depending on variety, they reach their maximum number, often nine or 11. The seedling stage is completed within four to six weeks.

Vegetative Growth

This is the period of maximum growth. The plant can grow no faster than the rate that its leaves can produce energy for new growth. Each day more leaf tissue is created, increasing the overall capacity for growth. With excellent growing conditions, Cannabis has been known to grow six inches a day, although the rate is more commonly one to two inches. The number of blades on each leaf begins to decline during the middle of the vegetative stage. Then the arrangement of the leaves on the stem (phyllotaxy) changes from the usual opposite to alternate. The internodes (stem space from one pair of leaves to the next, which had been increasing in length) begin to decrease, and the growth appears to be thicker. Branches which appeared in the axils of each set of leaves grow and shape the plant to its characteristic form. The vegetative stage is usually completed in the third to fifth months of growth.


This is a quiescent period of one to two weeks during which growth slows considerably. The plant is beginning a new program of growth as encoded in its genes. The old system is turned off and the new program beings with the appearance of the first flowers.


Cannabis is dioecious: each plant produces either male or female flowers, and is considered either a male or female plant. Male plants usually start to flowers about one month before the female; however, there is sufficient overlap to ensure pollination. First the upper internodes elongate; in a few days the male flowers appear. The male flowers are quite small, about 1/4 inch, and are pale green, yellow, or red/purple. They develop in dense, drooping clusters (cymes) capable of releasing clouds of pollen dust. Once pollen falls, males lose vigour and soon die.

The female flowers consists of two small (1/4 to 1/2 inch long), fuzzy white stigmas raised in a V sign and attached at the base to an ovule which is contained in a tiny green pod. The pod is formed from modified leaves (bracts and bracteoles) which envelop the developing seed. The female flowers develop tightly together to form dense clusters (racemes) or buds, cones, or colas (in this book, buds). The bloom continues until pollen reaches the flowers, fertilising them and beginning the formation of seeds. Flowering usually lasts about one or two months, but may continue longer when the plants are not pollinated and there is no killing frost.

Seed Set

A fertilised female flower develops a single seed wrapped in the bracts. In thick clusters, they form the seed-filled buds that make up most fine imported marijuana. After pollination, mature, viable seeds take from 10 days to five weeks to develop. When seeds are desired, the plant is harvested when enough seeds have reached full colour. For a fully-seeded plant this often takes place when the plant has stopped growth and is, in fact, dying. During flowering and seed set, various colours may appear. All the plant's energy goes to reproduction and the continuance of its kind. Minerals and nutrients flow from the leaves to the seeds, and the chlorophylls that give the plant its green colour disintegrate. The golds, browns, and reds which appear are from accessory pigments that formerly had been masked by chlorophyll.

Figure 30 THC potency through various growth stages in the male and female

About Plants Generally

Plants use a fundamentally different "life strategy" from animals. Animals are more or less self-contained units that grow and develop to predetermined forms. They use movement and choice of behaviour to deal with the changing environments. Plants are organised more as open systems - the simple physical characteristics of the environment, such as sunlight, water, and temperature, directly control their growth, form, and life cycles. Once the seed sprouts, the plant is rooted in place and time. Since growth is regulated by the environment, development is on accordance with the plant's immediate surroundings. When a balance is struck, the strategy is a success and life flourishes.

Behaviour of a plant is not a matter of choice; it is a fixed response. On a visible level the response more often than not is growth, either a new form of growth, or specialised growth. By directly responding, plant in effect "know," for example, when to sprout, flower, or drop leaves to prepare for winter.

Everyone has seen how a plant turns toward light or can bend upward if it its stem is bent down. The plant turns by growing cells of different length on opposite sides of the stem. This effect turns or right the plant. The stimulus in the first case is light, in the second gravity, but essentially the plant responds by specialised growth. It is the same with almost all facets of a plant's live - growth is modified and controlled by the immediate environment. The influence of light, wind, rainfall, etc., interacts with the plant (its genetic make-up or genotype) to produce the individual plant (phenotype).

The life cycle of Cannabis is usually complete in four to nine months. The actual time depends on variety, but it is regulated by local growing conditions, specifically the photoperiod (length of day vs night). Cannabis is a long-night (or short-day) plant. When exposed to a period of two weeks of long nights - that is, 13 or more hours of continuous darkness each night - the plants respond by flowering. This has important implications, for it allows the grower to control the life cycle of the plant and adapt it to local growing conditions or unique situations. Since you can control flowering, you control maturation and, hence, the age of the plants at harvest.


For the marijuana grower the most important plant/environment interaction to understand is the influence of the photoperiod. The photoperiod is the daily number of hours of day (light) vs. night (dark). In nature, long nights signal the plant that winter is coming and that it is time to flowers and produce seeds. As long as the day-length is long, the plants continue vegetative growth. If female flowers do appear, there will only be a few. These flowers will not form the characteristic large clusters or buds. If the days are too short, the plants flowers too soon, and remain small and underdeveloped.

The plant "senses" the longer nights by a direct interaction with light. A flowering hormone is present during all stages of growth. This hormone is sensitive to light and is rendered inactive by even low levels of light. When the dark periods are long enough, the hormones increase to a critical level that triggers the reproductive cycle. Vegetative growth ends and flowering begins.

The natural photoperiod changes with the passing of seasons. In the Northern Hemisphere, the length of daylight is l