Tips for Growing Cannabis in a Tiny Space

For those who don’t have big properties or extra space, don’t worry: You don’t need a huge space to grow cannabis. Cannabis is an eager plant that will grow nearly anywhere given the right light and nutrients, making a grow room of any size feasible.

Growing in a tiny space has benefits too, allowing you to produce cannabis discreetly, in case you’re afraid of what the neighbors will think. A small grow also won’t create as much noise from machines or generate as much smell and will therefore attract less attention.

A small grow doesn’t necessarily mean small returns, but, you do want to be growing as efficiently as possible. Here are some tips to maximize your tiny space to get the best and biggest returns.

What Your Space Needs

A grow space can be as small as a 2′ x 2′ x 4′ grow tent or as big as a warehouse, but they all have a number of things in common.

  • Adequate space for growth. The bigger the plant can grow, the larger your yields will be. Generally, you’ll need more height than width, to keep the lights off the plants. Space gets tight quickly.
  • Sterilization. Dirty closets won’t suffice–you must be able to keep the space clean and contained from the outside environment. You’ll also need to be able to drain the plants properly and keep them out of standing water.
  • Ventilation. Plants need fresh air. A continual exchange of air is necessary to keep them healthy and vibrant. Depending on where you live, you may need an AC unit or heater to regulate the climate.

Many small-space growers use grow tents, small units where you can grow one to a handful of plants–they can be as small as the size of a laundry hamper. These self-contained units will provide a controllable environment for your plants without the hassle of building out a big grow.

Don’t Burn the Plants

One of the biggest concerns with a tiny grow is lighting. Grow lights run very hot and need to be kept at a safe distance from your plants so they don’t burn buds or leaves. Either the plants must be kept short or your lights need to be elevated–the latter can be hard to pull off in a confined space, so usually plants need to be kept small through topping and pruning.

LEDs are changing the game for small-space growing by providing quality full-spectrum light with minimal heat. This allows plants to grow closer to the light source without damage from heat, while also reducing the need for climate-control equipment to bring down the temperature in your grow. It should be noted that LEDs can still burn your plants, but there is less of a risk than with older lights.

This will give your plants more room to grow and therefore give you a bigger return when it’s time to harvest.

Train Your Plants

With a limited space, you can also train your cannabis plants to increase yields. Some effective methods include:

  • Scrogging (screen of green)
  • Low-stress training (LST)
  • High-stress training (HST)

Scrogging is probably your best bet for getting a high return with minimal space. This process involves weaving the stalks and branches of a plant through a screen–mesh sizes usually range from 3-6 inches square–before switching to a flowering light cycle.

This spreads out the plant’s branches, allowing all nodes to receive more light and also opening up the plant so that middle and lower branches can receive more light. This will give you a level canopy that will fill out with big colas.

Everything below the canopy can be pruned to save energy and keep the space clean and free of pests while the buds have direct exposure to light, increasing your yield.

Low-stress training involves tying down parts of the plant to create offshoots that will lead to additional cola sites.

A more aggressive method, high-stress training increases cola sites through topping or super cropping to promote an even canopy and increased cola sites.

Know Your Genetics

Sativas, indicas, and hybrids all grow differently. Sativas are known for their lanky growth and more open bud structure, while indicas tend to grow short and stocky and have denser buds. Hybrids can have traits from both.

For a tiny grow, indicas will probably be easier to maintain when looking to maximize your space and yield because of their short and stocky nature. Sativas can work too, but you might have to spend more time and attention in pruning them.

Keep in mind that this is a generalization of strains–some indicas grow tall, and some sativas grow short. Be sure to check out Leafly’s strain explorer for growing tips on specific strains.

You can also try growing autoflowering cannabis, plants that start flowering when they get to a certain age, rather than when the light changes. They also grow short and small.

Keep Your Roots Healthy

The grow medium is the home for roots, which send water and nutrients to the rest of the plant. A quality grow medium is especially important for a tiny grow in order to get the most out of a plant in a cramped condition.

Try using complete soils or super soils–they have a majority of the nutrients a plant needs and they allow a plant to efficiently store water for a longer time between waterings.

Be sure to include enough soil in your pots to prevent roots from getting bound. Frequently check to see if roots are exposed. If you see them coming out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, it’s time to transplant it to a bigger pot.

A stunted plant that appears droopy even after watering can also be a sign of roots being bound and needing more soil.

Control the Climate

Climate control is also crucial in a tiny grow. Ideally you want to maintain a healthy temperature of 70-75 degrees with a relative humidity between 40-75%. Using LED lights will reduce the overall temperature and your need to cool down your grow, but you will still need a fan to pull fresh air into your grow space.

Fresh air circulation is crucial to getting high yields, as your plants use CO2 in the process of photosynthesis. Fresh air will give them a boost of growth and will also be effective in cycling new air into your garden while pulling out stale air, keeping the temperature and humidity in check.

Tiny grows can be a lot of fun and will give you insight on the growing process and these methods will improve the quality and yield of your cannabis.

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World Health Organization Calls for Cannabis Rescheduling

International drug treaties have long stood in the way of cannabis reform on the national level. But in newly issued recommendations, the World Health Organization (WHO) says it’s time to change course on how the United Nations categorizes cannabis.

It’s the latest sign that the world is warming to the health benefits of a plant that for decades has been dismissed as a dangerous drug. Reform advocates around the globe were quick to cheer the news.

“This is the best outcome that WHO could possibly have come up with,” said Kenzi Riboulet Zemouli, the head of research at For Alternative Approaches to Addiction Think & Do Tank (FAAAT), a Paris-based drug policy nonprofit. In a statement, Riboulet Zemouli called the recommendation “a beginning of a new evidence and health-oriented cycle for international Cannabis policy.”

The WHO recommendations call for cannabis and its chemical components to be rescheduled under international drug agreements. They advise that whole-plant cannabis as well as cannabis resin be deleted from the most restrictive category (Schedule IV) in a 1961 international drug convention.

(Unlike the US Controlled Substances Act, which labels the most-restricted drugs “Schedule I,” the UN treaty defines Schedule IV as its most-restricted category and Schedule I the least-restricted.)

The recommendations came in a Jan. 24 letter from WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to the secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres. The letter has not officially been made public, but drug reform advocates circulated it Friday. The complete letter is embedded below.

If the recommendations are adopted, cannabis and its resin would instead be designated as least-harmful, Schedule I substances under the UN treaty. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its isomers would also be moved to Schedule I of the treaty.

Extracts and tinctures of cannabis would be removed from Schedule I of the 1961 treaty. Pharmaceutical preparations that contain THC would be placed in Schedule III.

The recommendations also echo prior WHO conclusions that pure cannabidiol (CBD) shouldn’t be scheduled at all under international drug conventions, recommending the addition of a provision that would read: “Preparations containing predominantly cannabidiol and not more than 0,2 percent of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabidiol are not under international control.”

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration has issued similar advice, suggesting last year in an internal letter that CBD “could be removed from control” under the Controlled Substances Act. Drug Enforcement Administration officials, however, reportedly advised that the 1961 UN convention would stand in the way of federal CBD de-scheduling.

Adoption of the WHO recommendations could open the doors to further US reforms around CBD. While products containing the cannabinoid are widely available online and at stores throughout the country, their legality is still uncertain.

As for how the recommendations would affect the treatment of THC, well… that’s less clear. Longtime cannabis legalization advocate Tom Angell writes at Forbes that the upshot would be more political than practical:

The practical effects of the changes would be somewhat limited, in that they wouldn’t allow countries to legalize marijuana and still be in strict compliance with international treaties, but their political implications are hard to overstate.

Taken together, recommendations, if adopted, would represent a formal recognition that the world’s governing bodies have effectively been wrong about marijuana’s harms and therapeutic benefits for decades. WHO’s new position comes at a time when a growing number of countries are moving to reform their cannabis policies. As such, a shift at the UN could embolden additional nations to scale back or repeal their prohibition laws–even though legalization for non-medical or non-scientific reasons would still technically violate the global conventions.

For now, the recommendations are precisely that–advice, which has yet to be adopted. The proposals will now go to the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs, where member nations will vote on whether or not to accept them. It remains unclear how the US will vote.

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UC Berkeley Launches a Cannabis Research Center

BERKELEY, CA — One of the nation’s premier learning institutions is bear-hugging the once-feared cannabis plant like never before.

A newly formed Cannabis Research Center at UC Berkeley launched Tuesday night. The center could be the beginning of something huge in academia, said co-director Van Butsic, who has a Ph.D in forestry, and is studying cannabis farming and water use in 2019.

Butsic said researchers all across the university are performing or proposing cannabis-related studies. The Cannabis Center hopes to catalyze those elements to boost grant funding and publish major findings in leading journals–the dual fuels of academic success.

“This really opens things up. We really should be so much further ahead in our ability to gather data, analyze it, and get it out there.”

Dominic Corva, Ph.D, founder, executive director, Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy

Cal’s number one rank among among public universities bestows unprecedented credibility on the burgeoning field of cannabis studies. Tuesday night’s private reception took place on the top floor of the Barrows science building overlooking the school’s famed campanile. A wine and cheese reception followed a panel talk.

The panel discussion included: Richard Parrott of farming regulator CalCannabis; Joanna Cedar from major producer CannaCraft; Patricia Brooks, cannabis advisor to Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley; longtime advocate Kristin Nevedal of the Nevedal Group; and Stephen DeAngelo, founder of Oakland’s biggest retailer Harborside.

In the audience were more than 50 guests including cannabis research all-stars Amanda Reiman, who has a doctorate in social welfare; Dominic Corva from the Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy in Washington state; and Cal post-doctoral fellow Michael Polson.

This first year, the Cal Cannabis Center maps the barriers to entry for cannabis farmers and determines farm water use. Many more grant applications should follow.

“It’s great the UC system is coming along with this stuff,” Corva said. “This really opens things up. We really should be so much further ahead in our ability to gather data, analyze it, and get it out there. This will get us over the hump.”

A New Epoch In Academia

A small grant from the UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix pays for this year’s Cannabis Center. Butsic said that’s a world of difference from even a few years ago, when he asked about applying for cannabis research grant money.

“They said, ‘Don’t even bother to apply.’ And now, how things have changed,” he said.

One in five Americans lives in an adult-use legalization state. The US cannabis economy might total $40 billion in illicit and licit annual sales.

Until recently, institutional bias against cannabis plagued academia, which mostly relies on federal funding. The vast majority of cannabis research funding comes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), signed off by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA has a congressional mandate to seek evidence only of cannabis’ harms, not its benefits.

Reiman gave the example of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which prevented respondents from supporting legalization. The NSDUH survey asked a cannabis legalization question where the answers were either, “strongly oppose,” “oppose,” or “neutral.”

This type of obvious bias “pushed away so many brilliant people,” said Reiman, who got her Ph.D. from Cal in 2006. “You lose really smart people or you jade them. We all knew the way the game was being played.”

Today, legal cannabis taxes fund unbiased research grants in multiple states — including UC San Diego‘s work on medical marijuana, as well as traffic safety. Plant biology and ecology researchers can also tap new grants from more traditional sources, such as the National Science Foundation. Northern Michigan University now offers a “Medical Plant Chemistry” degree for cannabis.

Alameda County’s Patricia Brooks said solid data on cannabis’ environmental or economic impact will buttress future policy discussions. “We need to have clean data so we have a baseline of credibility moving forward.”

Nevedal represents small outdoor farmers and said she was amazed to see Cal level up its cannabis research game. “This is kind of a dream,” she said.

Cannabis Research Starts At The Farm

Butsic’s focus on cannabis farmers’ barriers to entering the legal market is especially timely.

Parrott, the lead state regulator at CalCannabis, which oversees growers, noted cannabis is the only agricultural crop subject to state licensing. “You don’t need a license to farm tomatoes, you just plant them.”

As a result of state licensing, cannabis farms are subject to tough environmental standards under the state’s environmental quality act (CEQA) that no other farms face.

NIMBYs have long abused CEQA as a cudgel to kill local development in California. That reality has now come to cannabis.

Both cities and the state of California will face NIMBY lawsuits over cannabis that invoke CEQA this year, it seems. CEQA reviews are the number one thing slowing down annual farm licensing in California, Parrott said.

These kinds of regulatory hurdles are “devastating to this community,” said DeAngelo, who has seen his 3,000-grower supplier roster shrink to 25 distributors in 2018.

The launch of Cal’s Cannabis Research Center follows a very popular Science of Cannabis public symposium in 2018 produced by the school’s Botanical Garden.

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Which Cannabis Strain Should You Be Growing?

Once you’ve made the decision to grow your own cannabis, you probably have a couple favorite strains in mind. Picking a strain is one of the most exciting aspects of homegrowing, but setting up a successful garden requires careful planning and consideration, no matter what your experience level.

Starting a grow takes an investment of time and money, and which strain you decide to grow will influence how you build out your garden.

Picking a strain to grow is ultimately a matter of balancing what is available to you and what your individual needs, experience, and growing preferences are. Below are some factors to consider to help you pick the right strain for your garden.

Grow Experience

The great thing about cannabis cultivation is that you don’t have to be an expert to get started. Any cannabis enthusiast can grow at home with a bit of planning and research.

Nevertheless, some strains require more care and attention than others. This information is usually made available by breeders and distributors, but be sure to do some research to see how difficult specific strains are to grow.

Difficulty equates to more care and attention, which can involve a more complex nutrient regiment, more training requirements, and perhaps paying more attention to environmental factors. These all take time, patience, and research to master, especially if you don’t have much growing experience.

That being said, don’t let the difficulty factor discourage you from cultivating your favorite strain. As long as you’re determined and know what you’re getting yourself into, by all means, go for it.

Availability of Strains

Where you live and intend to set up your garden will affect what strains you have access to. Although there are many strains in circulation, not all markets carry certain varietals.

The legality of cannabis in your state will determine whether you can buy seeds or clones at the dispensary. Even if you can, you’ll be limited to genetics that are only produced in your state, as seeds and clones can’t cross state lines.

The selection of genetics will be contingent on many variables, including what local farmers are circulating, the time of year, and demand. Popular strains will be easier to find as the market favors supply and demand.

Contact local seed and clone suppliers to see what they have. That way, you can have the jump on genetics you want as they become available throughout the year.

Seed banks exist outside of the US and can sell seeds for “souvenir purposes,” but it is illegal to bring seeds into the US. Customs will seize any cannabis seeds that they find in packages or on a person.

Climate and Environment

Cultivating indoors or outdoors will also affect which strain you choose. Certain strains benefit from open space and are easier to grow outdoors. For example, sativas tend to grow taller than indicas and have a more open bud structure, making them better in warmer and more humid climates.

Cultivars such as Lemon Skunk and Chocolope are known for their towering canopies and moderate-to-intense stretching and will benefit greatly from the extra sun and space of an outdoor garden. Just be sure to plant them early as they have long flowering times.

Other strains need more attention and are more susceptible to pests. These usually benefit from a climate-controlled environment. OG Kush is considered a more finicky strain to grow, so it will probably benefit from being grown indoors despite its tendency to stretch.

Dwarf and auto-flowering varieties grow short and bushy, making them perfect companions for spatially limited grows. Lowryder is a dwarf cultivar and Hash Plant and Critical Kush are other varieties that grow small and have short flowering times.

Garden Planning

Cannabis can be grown successfully in small or large spaces, but know how much space you have to work with before you start building out your garden in order to figure out which strains are suitable. For example, if growing in a small space, consider growing indicas, which tend to grow shorter and bushier.

Many OG strains, like OG Kush, need specific nutrients, like a higher quantity of calcium and magnesium. Other varieties such as Blue Dream or Green Crack don’t need as much watering and can be left alone for longer periods and given a less stringent nutrient schedule.

Also take into consideration flowering time. Some strains take longer to mature than others and if you want a quick turnaround, aim for strains that take 8-9 weeks to flower instead of 12.

Certain strains will need different types of soil, and some will need more watering and nutrients than others.

Other factors to consider before planning out the parameters of a cannabis garden include:

  • What kind of soil or grow medium you’ll use
  • How many lights you’ll need and how bright they need to be
  • The number of plants you’ll have

Be sure to also give yourself room to work in your garden. You’ll need workspaces to put soil in pots, take clones or plant seeds, and room to move potted plants around and water plants.

Strain Preference

At the end of the day, choosing a strain that meets your needs is the most important factor. You want to enjoy the fruits of your labor after months of hard work and dedication. Think about why you want a specific strain:

  • If you’re looking for aroma and flavor, try growing a strain with a great terpene profile, even if it’s lower in THC.
  • If you’re looking to grow a strain simply to process into a concentrate, you’ll probably want something known for producing a lot of resin.
  • If you’re looking for symptom relief, check out Leafly’s strain database and find one that meets your needs–you might want something with a particular THC to CBD ratio.

Research and planning is essential to building out your cannabis garden and picking which strain to grow in that garden. Whatever your wants or needs, as long as you’re determined, you’ll be on the way to growing your own cannabis in no time.

Check out this Twitter post and see what some of our followers’ favorite strains to grow are. Let us know yourself!

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Weed Weddings: ‘You May Kiss the Bride… and Hand Her a Joint’

Imagine a wedding ceremony during which the groom embraces the bride then pulls two joints out of his pocket. The wedding officiant says, “You may now smoke with the bride,” and provides a light to the happy pair, who start their married life with a giant puff of their favourite cannabis strain.

Scenarios like this are playing out with increasing frequency in US states that have already legalized cannabis for recreational use. In fact, canna-weddings are a booming business in much of the country. Event planners, retailers, bakers, and florists are all involved in the niche industry. Many of them even attend special cannabis wedding expos.

Now that adult-use cannabis is legal across Canada, the trend is starting here. Calgary-based Lifted Cannabis Weddings opened for business a year ago. Owner Laureen Cameron, who has been an event planner for a decade, is now helping a growing number of Canadian couples plan canna-weddings.

She says that, in some ways, a canna-wedding isn’t that different from a conventional one. “The theme of the wedding is still going be the same, the people are still getting married for all the same reasons,” says Cameron. But there are some differences.

At a canna-wedding, cannabis can play a role in the spiritual aspect of the event, with couples smoking up during the ceremony itself, and it can be handed out as party favours. Of course, cannabis is most often used where you would most expect it to be–at the reception.

Some couples offer cannabis at their weddings the way other couples offer alcohol. Some canna-weddings feature special “bud bars,” where budtenders provide strains to guests, advise them about their choices and roll their joints.

South of the border, the scope of cannabis use at canna-weddings is expanding at a rapid pace. In fact, one American couple recently included $8,000 worth of cannabis at their nuptials in California. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were decorated with cannabis buds and flower and the ushers sported boutonnieres featuring cannabis leaves and buds.

Use is a little more modest at Canadian weddings. “Right now, cannabis is used primarily for the receptions and as party favours,” says Cameron. But she adds that is likely to change as canna-weddings become more popular here.

With more of them on the horizon, Cameron has been sharing some tips for interested couples:

Strain Selection

She won’t recommend a particular strain of cannabis, insisting there is “never a one size fits all. It depends on the kind of vibe you want at your wedding,” she says. “Personally, I am very interested in a strain called Wedding Cake. It’s fitting.”


“Every individual has a different comfort level so it’s not one size fits all in this aspect either. All you can really do is [make your guests aware] that the cannabis can be used at the wedding or afterwards,” she says. “Just because you have a joint as your party favour, you don’t have to have it right then and there.”


“Educate your guests. Let them know what they are choosing to do when they use cannabis,” says Cameron. She adds that, if many of the wedding guests are new to cannabis, it might be a good idea to have station where those who are interested can go rather than to hand cannabis to every guest as a party favour.

Couples who are seriously looking into planning canna-weddings could attend Canadian Cannabis Wedding Expo in Calgary in March. Traditional wedding planners and canna-wedding specialists will be on hand as will cannabis retailers.

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7 Hemp Heroes Who Changed the Game

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is a hardline conservative who ranks among the most powerful politicians in Washington, DC. He’s also now an official (albeit unlikely) “hemp hero” thanks to an amendment he added to the massive 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp as an agricultural commodity in the United States for the first time in over 80 years.

In its long history, the hemp movement has produced many heroes we can celebrate wholeheartedly, including activists, scientists, authors, and a few of the nation’s Founding Fathers.

Hoping to provide a viable crop replacement for his state’s struggling tobacco farmers, McConnell leveraged his leadership position in the Senate to move the provision through the legislative process at lightning speed.

American farmers are now free to grow and process hemp for industrial uses, as a nutritious food source, or to create hemp-derived CBD products. Which means an issue long considered a far-left pipe dream has suddenly became the law of the land–which much thanks to one of America’s least groovy politicians.

The problem with Mitch McConnell is that he hasn’t been a “hemp hero” for very long, and he remains adamantly opposed to legalization of cannabis. So we’re talking about a guy who considered hemp too dangerous to grow in American soil until domestic tobacco was no longer sufficiently profitable. And he still doesn’t support letting Kentucky’s farmers grow high-THC cannabis varieties. In fact, he’s been a key voice in Congress opposing efforts to protect the existing legal cannabis industry in the United States, never mind end federal prohibition entirely.

For a politician who’s long been a proud backer of Big Tobacco to turn up his nose at cannabis is just inexcusable.

Besides, in its long history, the hemp movement has produced many heroes we can celebrate wholeheartedly, including activists, scientists, authors, and a few of the nation’s Founding Fathers. Here’s the story of seven who truly changed the game.

George Washington


Yes, many of the Founding Fathers grew hemp–a versatile crop that played an invaluable role in colonial America’s economy–though there’s no direct evidence any of them got high on their own supply.

“I am very glad to hear that the Gardener has saved so much of the India Hemp [seed],” George Washington wrote to William Pearce, his farm manager, in 1794. “Make the most [of it]… Let the ground be well prepared. The Hemp may be sown anywhere.”

Washington initially became interested in hemp as a commercial crop in the 1760s, when the price he fetched for his tobacco crop suddenly plummeted (sound familiar?). But ultimately he decided to focus on wheat instead, while growing just enough hemp to supply his own needs on the farm.

Primarily, the future leader of the American Revolution used the hemp he grew at Monticello to make the large nets he used to pull fish from the nearby Potomac River.

Today, after two centuries of absence, hemp once again grows at the site of Washington’s home and farm, which the National Park Service now maintains as a National Historic Landmark and model farm. The first modern crop of Mount Vernon hemp was harvested in 2018 and used to make rope and cloth.

Sister Mary Etienne Tibeau

Sister Mary Etienne Tibeau was a Catholic nun associated with Mount Mercy Junior College of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

What she accomplished in terms of determining how and when to best fertilize cannabis formed the basis for the next 80-years of experimentation.

In 1936, just a year before federal prohibition of hemp became the law of the land in the United States, she published a study in Plant Physiology–the journal of the American Society of Plant Biologists–called Time Factor in Utilization of Mineral Nutrients By Hemp. Her results came for a series of double-blind experiments she conducted herself, in which she took identical sets of hemp seedlings and grew them under the exact same conditions, except in each different set she varied “the composition of various nutrient solutions, and the time of growth in these cultures, in order to test the effect of these treatments.”

In his Cultivator’s Handbook of Marijuana, author Bill Drake calls Sister Mary “every cannabis grower’s spiritual mother superior,” and says she “writes of her work with her plants with the systematic vision of a fascinated researcher. Her work concentrates particularly on the nutrients required to produce the largest and thickest leaves and the greatest amounts of resin.”

Though details of her life are hard to come by, Tibeau’s influence on the past 85 years of cannabis cultivation (whether hemp or weed) is undeniable. Though only a rare few remember her name, what she accomplished in terms of determining how and when to best fertilize cannabis formed the basis for the next 80-years of experimentation.

Which means it’s long past time somebody named a strain “Sister Mary.”

Jack Herer


Born in New York City in 1939, Jack Herer dropped out of high school to join the Army and serve in Korea. He didn’t try smoking cannabis for the first time until he’d turned thirty, and not long after, ditched his job as a sign maker and opened up a head shop on Venice Beach in Los Angeles, pledging to campaign tirelessly until cannabis was legal and everyone was let out of prison, or he turned 84–whichever came first.

In 1981, Herer was arrested for trespassing on federal property while collecting signatures for a cannabis ballot initiative. Given two weeks in prison, he used the time to start work on The Emperor Wears No Clothes, which was published in 1985. Through painstaking research, Herer’s magnum opus told the hidden history of hemp–a once-revered crop cultivated for more than 10,000 years, that played a vital role in America’s economy from colonial times until the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 made growing it a federal crime.

“I don’t know if hemp is going to save the world, but it’s the only thing that can.”

Jack Herer

Herer’s underground bestseller argued that ending hemp’s misguided prohibition, and allowing a commercial crop to flourish once again, would yield incredible benefits, including but not limited to feeding the world, freeing us from fossil fuels, reversing climate change, replacing plastics, ending the housing crisis, and restoring our planet’s depleted soils.

“I don’t know if hemp is going to save the world,” he once famously opined, “but it’s the only thing that can.”

Alex White Plume

Born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (in South Dakota) in 1952, Alex While Plume has devoted much of his life to advocating for legal hemp production on reservation land as a way to bring an economically and environmentally sustainable source of income to a place stricken with few job opportunities and systemic poverty.

In 1998, he persuaded the Oglala Sioux Tribe to adopt an ordinance exempting industrial hemp from the tribe’s ban on cannabis cultivation. Two years later, believing the ordinance and the tribe’s sovereign status would protect his efforts from interference by the US federal government, he grew a small plot of hand-sewn hemp.

But before that minuscule amount of non-intoxicating cannabis–grown in one of the most remote and resource deprived areas under US jurisdiction–reached maturity, a deployment of federal agents wielding guns and wearing bullet proof vests arrived at White-Plume’s land, where he lived with extended family in a compound of modest homes and trailer houses.

The feds brought along metal weed whackers, to chop down the crop and haul it away. As they did the next year, when White Plume again defiantly planted hemp. In 2002, he actually managed to harvest his small crop, but shortly after he was hit with a court order proactively prohibiting him from planting any more hemp until the DEA gave him permission. This caused him to finally relent from replanting, but White Plume would continue to tirelessly advocate for hemp–both within the Oglala Sioux Tribe and globally.

In 2016, based on new protections for hemp farming at the federal level, he took a chance and started growing again, this time a small commercial crop. He now sells his output to a Colorado-based company called Evo Hemp, which uses it to make tinctures and capsules, including a signature line with White Plume’s name on the label.

Kenneth Galbraith

At one point during his campaign to legalize hemp cultivation throughout the United States, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered some props to fellow Kentucky Republican James Comer, calling him the “first Kentuckian to take a major lead role in what has now developed into a national consensus.”

This really irked Molly Galbraith, daughter of the late, great Kenneth Galbraith.

Galbraith wore hemp suits on the campaign trail throughout that campaign, and five subsequent unsuccessful runs for Governor–a quixotic pursuit that he shrewdly used as a platform to inform people about cannabis and hemp. Known as a colorful character and a straight shooter, Galbraith won over a lot of converts on both sides of the aisle by being persistent, and by positioning hemp as a replacement crop for Kentucky’s ailing tobacco farmers.

His highest moment on the campaign trail was no doubt crossing Kentucky in a hemp-fueled car with Willie Nelson. But his greatest legacy will be that his home state led the charge to successfully re-legalize hemp cultivation

David Bronner


Emanuel Bronner was a third-generation German Jewish soap maker who emigrated to the United States in 1929. Intent on branching out on his own in the soap business, he ended up narrowly escaping the Holocaust, which saw both his parents meet their ends in a Nazi death camp. After that, and the untimely death of his wife in America, he developed an All-One Philosophy that defies easy summation, and remains printed on the side of every iconic bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap to this day.

Dr. Bronner’s donates millions of dollars every year to cannabis legalization, mental health research, environmental justice, animal-rights causes, and LGBT communities.

“Somehow in the midst of the massive personal tragedy, my grandfather experienced intense mystical love and the oneness of humanity,” David Bronner, now the company’s CEO, explains. “He urgently promoted his All-One mission to convince the public and world leaders alike that we must recognize our transcendent unity across ethnic and religious divides.”

For more on Emanuel Bronner, check out the entertaining and enlightening documentary Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox. But what’s essential for our purposes is that his mix of high ideals and a highly utilitarian all-natural product with 18 different uses made Dr. Bronner’s soap a hit with the hippies of the 1960s and 70s. And then things really took off in 1999, when at the insistence of David Bronner, the company began adding hemp oil to their soaps–with annual sales skyrocketing from roughly $4 million that year to $100 million in 2015.

At one point the company was importing 20 tons of Canadian hemp seed oil annually, but they’ve been increasingly sourcing domestically as US hemp production ramps up post-prohibition. Dr. Bronner’s also donates millions of dollars every year to cannabis legalization, mental health research, environmental justice, animal-rights causes, and LGBT communities.

David Bronner himself is an outspoken activist, one who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Like the time he helped plant hemp seeds on the lawn outside the DEA building in Arlington, Virginia. Or the time he locked himself in a cage outside the White House for a few hours to protest hemp prohibition.

Doug Fine

Author, NPR contributor, and self-described solar-powered goat herder Doug Fine didn’t so much change the game when it comes to hemp, as he did document the changing of said game. In Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution, he also presents a roadmap for moving from a petroleum-based society to one largely run on hemp.

Ultimately, the author predicts a future where hemp produces even more taxable revenue than legalized cannabis, while feeding the world, freeing us from fossil fuels, reversing climate change, and restoring our planet’s depleted soils. And in case you’re wondering, Fine does indeed get not-high on his own supply, having became a hemp farmer himself shortly after the book was published in 2014.

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Which Is More Potent, Vaping Cannabis or Smoking a Joint?

Cannabis vaporizers and pre-packaged cartridges continue to grow in popularity, with sales estimated to grow nearly 50% from 2017 to 2018. Vaping delivers a different experience than smoking a joint, but it’s not easy to quantify that difference. Recently, though, scientists have looked into the question and found that vaping actually packs a more powerful punch than the traditional joint.

Vaping ‘can produce drastically different’ experiences than smoking joints.

Tory Spindle, postdoctoral fellow, John Hopkins University

According to a recent JAMA study that examined cannabis consumption in infrequent consumers, people who vaporized cannabis flower experienced more pronounced effects than those who smoked the same dose. What’s more, effects increased along with the dose administered, suggesting that vaporized flower should be approached with more conservative dosing than any other consumption method, especially for infrequent consumers.

While the lead author acknowledged that the study has some limitations, he echoed its conclusions in an interview with Leafly: “It was surprising, the magnitude of difference between equal doses of smoking versus vaping,” said Tory Spindle, a postdoctoral fellow with John Hopkins University’s Bayview Medical Center. Vaping “can produce drastically different impairment” for all consumers, he said.

More Efficient THC Delivery

Previous studies have shown that vaping is a more efficient THC delivery method than smoking, so researchers sought to examine its impacts on several outcomes at two doses and to compare these results with both smoking the same doses and consuming placebo doses of a THC-free substance. Researchers conducted the study between June 2016-January 2017 at Hopkins’ Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit.

The population studied was made up of nine men and eight women with a mean age of 27.3 who were prescreened for cannabis and other drug use beforehand to confirm they all had gone an average of 13 months without consuming cannabis before the study.

Additionally, researchers assessed the participants before they consumed cannabis and then at 10 points afterwards up to 8 hours after they had consumed each of the six study doses (three vaping and three smoking) and each dose was measured to ensure consistency and with participants blinded to the amount they were using.

“We were able to control dosing better across the two conditions,” Spindle said, noting that this was likely why the study yielded different results. This research method allowing for titrated doses, or more carefully-calculated individual doses, which has been difficult to achieve in much of the past research on this subject.

Measuring Vaporized Flower’s Effects

When it came to measuring the cannabis affects, researchers applied the Drug Effect Questionnaire and three computerized tasks, The Digit Symbol Substitution Task, Divided Attention Task and Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task. These tasks were chosen because they “previously demonstrated to be acutely influenced by cannabis self-administration and representative of workplace performance and/or operation of a motor vehicle.”

Researchers tested subjects vaping flower, not cannabis oil. So there’s more work to be done.

Comparing 17 participants’ outcomes across vaping and smoking, researchers found statistically significant differences at a 25-mg THC dose. With vaping, consumers experienced more adverse effects, or “pronounced impairment of cognitive and psychomotor ability,” determined by their performances on the computer tests. Consumers that vaped also experienced more paranoia and anxiety than their smoking peers.

The results were similar at a lower dose as well. At 10 mg THC, vaporized cannabis flower “modestly” harmed cognitive functioning and yielded significant differences with smoking, as measured by mean drug effect scores.

“For both inhalation methods, mean peak changes for ratings of drug effect at the 10-mg and 25-mg doses were significantly greater than placebo,” the researchers also found. “Significant, sometimes adverse, drug effects can occur at relatively low THC doses in infrequent cannabis users,” they wrote, “and accordingly, these data should be considered with regard to regulation of retail cannabis products and education for individuals initiating cannabis use.”

What This Means for Consumers

The cannabis administered in the study contained 13% THC (as well as 0.03% CBD and 0.8% cannabinol), according to Spindle, which says a lot about how infrequent users and especially new medical cannabis patients should dose themselves if they choose to vape. Keeping in mind too that cannabis products available at dispensaries are usually more THC-rich than these research doses.

As for regular cannabis consumers with a high tolerance to THC, the results cannot be extrapolated, one of a few limitations in the study. Other limitations included using a range of only three doses and one strain of cannabis (which was low in CBD, Spindle noted), and using only flower and a single vaporizer type (the Volcano Medic) for the vaping portion, and a small pipe for the smoking research. Researchers did not examine the effects of vaping liquid cannabis or using other vaping instruments.

“This is one vaporizer and we need to do more research,” Spindle said. “Definitely more studies are needed to see if these effects are applicable across other types of variables.”

Need to Test More Variables

That idea was echoed in the research, which stated that more controlled studies of a variety of vaporizing and smoking methods are “vital” and “may inform dosing guidelines, cannabis policy and regulation, and procedures for detecting acute cannabis intoxication.”

In addition, the corresponding author for this study, Ryan Vandrey, said, “We still don’t have a full look at the long-term effects of vaping, such as whether there is a risk for chronic bronchitis, and more work needs to be done on that front,” according to a news release issued by the Hopkins School of Medicine (where Vandrey is an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences).

On the other hand, some results from previous studies were echoed in this John Hopkins study, like, for instance, researchers did not find strong correlations between results and THC blood concentration.

“THC doesn’t stay in the blood that long,” Spindle said, cautioning: Blood concentration levels “can go back to baseline before you’re done feeling the effects.”

Collectively, the findings from this study and others indicate yet again that blood THC concentrations are not a valid indicator of a cannabis consumer’s intoxication and/or impairment, and that it’s a much more complex issue than once assumed.

As the study concluded: “It highlights the need to explore other biological and behavioral means of detecting acute cannabis impairment.”

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Pain Relief, Cannabinoids, and Neuroplasticity With Dr. Michael Moskowitz

The most amazing thing about the progress in cannabis medicine is that most of it is being made by individuals. People are experimenting on themselves to find relief, create products, and discover remedies for a variety of illnesses and diseases. It’s 2019, we can go to the moon, we can create artificial intelligence, but we are still in the dark about the many miracles of medical cannabis.

Until the American federal government, through the Drug Enforcement Administration, reclassifies cannabis from its very political Schedule I status, patients, nurses, caregivers, and doctors are very much on their own for information, research, and resources that can help guide their use of medical cannabis treatment. Without consistent regulation and efficient laboratory testing, it can be hard to use medical cannabis right now, though it is finally easier to get in states that have legalized medicinal use.

Dr. Michael H. Moskowitz, MD, MPH has been working in public health and medicine for almost forty years, specializing in researching and writing about neuroplasticity and chronic pain. After experimenting on himself first and then going rogue within his own practice, he compassionately gives his experience and research of medicinal cannabis in the exceptional book, Medical Cannabis: A Guide for Patients, Practitioners, and Caregivers.

Diving into questions and issues everyone has about using cannabis medicinally right now, this book is the best thing available on the market. Dr. Moskowitz delivers the science and the practicality necessary to understand how cannabis works in the brain and the body, and how you can approach using it–whether you’re the doctor or the patient.

Breaking the Stigma Between Doctors and Cannabis Medicine

“I was treating patients for probably thirty years when I came upon this [cannabis] in chronic pain treatment, and what I was impressed with was how muddy all of the medicines we were using were. Even though we got people better, we never got anybody well or rarely got anybody well. The rubric in chronic pain treatment is to tell the patient ‘we can help you reduce your pain but we can’t make it go away.’ I thought, that’s just crap, why are we telling people that? We’re only telling them that because we don’t have the tools that we know how to use to make it go away, but it doesn’t mean they don’t exist,” Dr. Moskowitz explained.

“With cannabis, it was the opposite. People decided this was a medicine that was helpful to some of their issues, doctors kind of thought it was just wink, wink, nudge, nudge, and they were just getting high … They just looked at it as a reasonable thing for people to do who felt so awful.”

Dr. Michael Moskowitz

While researching chronic pain treatment, Moskowitz experimented with neuroplastic hypnotherapy treatment. Unfortunately, it didn’t work so well for that particular patient, but it absolutely helped his own chronic neck pain. So he dived deeper into working with visualizations and developed a graphic workbook with animations that proved successful in treating chronic pain. He added, “We’ve developed lotions out of that that treat part of the brain where pain’s really harbored. We brought in salves and vibrations and all kinds of things to counter stimulate the pain signal with other sensory input.”

About five years into this research and treatment, he was asked by the American Academy of Pain Medicine to do a series of talks and lectures around the country on medical cannabis. “As a medical concept, it’s completely backwards from the way we mostly do things where some scientists develop an idea about something and it gets studied, tested on animals, then tested on humans and brought to market, etc. etc. With cannabis, it was the opposite. People decided this was a medicine that was helpful to some of their issues, doctors kind of thought it was just wink, wink, nudge, nudge, and they were just getting high. But these people were in such bad shape it was okay for them, and so doctors really didn’t look at it as a legitimate treatment. They just looked at it as a reasonable thing for people to do who felt so awful.”

Up to this point, doctors would send people to dispensaries and they would talk to people [budtenders] who generally didn’t know anything about medicine. Dr. Moskowitz began gathering his own research and doing lectures on it, despite never trying it as a treatment. This went on for about five more years, the first lecture being in 2011.

“I taught it at a number of places. I’m actually one of the two people I know in the world that’s taught medical cannabis to the federal government. I taught it at Walter Reed Hospital for the 5th Annual Army, Air Force, VA International Chronic Pain meeting,” he said. He still had not used it on himself or any patients.

Healing, Cancer, and Why Whole Plant Medicine Matters

As Moskowitz was teaching and researching, he became impressed with the fact that it looked like cannabis might be a fairly effective treatment for cancer. He experienced problems with his own prostate in the past without it being cancer, but after receiving an MRI that showed he had about a 90% chance of it, along with a high PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen), his neurologist wanted to biopsy. He asked his doctor if they could wait and watch since it didn’t seem aggressive at that moment, and he wanted to instead treat himself with cannabis for a few years first. His doctor agreed and certified him for medical cannabis use.

“I really researched this out and I did a number of different things on myself. I realized as I was doing this that I was feeling really good, my physical health felt improved after about three months. I ended up continuing to feel really good, my PSA dropped that first year from 9.5, (which is high) to 8.3, which was still high but quite a bit lower. But the next year it jumped up to 13.5, which it’s not absolute that you’ll have prostate cancer, but it’s a pretty good chance you will–they thought 99% sure I had it. I did a biopsy about a year and 8 months into this treatment. I’d been very methodical about this, I treated it very very carefully, and it was negative.”

“Everything we know about CBD as a treatment pretty much came from THC … we gradually learned a lot more about THCA, CBDA, THCV, CBC, CBDV, CBN, and CBG. There’s this tremendous synergy that makes up that ensemble or entourage effect.”

Dr. Moskowitz

The day after these results, Dr. Moskowitz broke his ankle and fibula. He had to have 4 surgeries and still, he had never used cannabis for pain. After his first surgery, he used opioids for three days, and it helped a little, but not particularly well. “I started using more cannabis with higher THC because I was doing nothing but laying around at that point and I got great pain relief. I came up with a treatment where I used a combination of THC and CBD in alcohol tincture in a rollerball, rolled around the area where the surgery was because I couldn’t touch it, it was still an open wound, and it took the pain away 100% within three minutes. It never failed to do that, not once.”

Passionate about using the whole plant in his treatments, he began to tap into the ensemble effect of medicinal cannabis. “CBD doesn’t absorb particularly well under the tongue, it’s actually one of the worst places to absorb it into the body, but THC does. Everything we know about CBD as a treatment pretty much came from THC as a recreational drug because that’s all anybody ever looked at. Now, we gradually learned a lot more about CBD but also THCA, CBDA, THCV, CBC, CBDV, CBN, and CBG. There’s this tremendous synergy that makes up that ensemble or entourage effect,” Dr. Moskowitz explained.

With hardware in his leg for several months, Dr. Moskowitz continued applying the rollerball treatment, which lasted 6–8 hours, sometimes longer. Struck by the remarkable qualities he experienced, he wanted to bring this into his own practice. After looking at the law and acknowledging the potential problems, he decided he could not deny it to his patients. “They’re really suffering, and this looks like a really good treatment. When I treated the pain issues with myself, not the prostate, I noticed it didn’t just suppress the symptoms but it healed the tissue–it’s also healing the tissue in the dermis of the skin which then helps heal the tissue below that.”

Discovering New Methods of Treatment With Cannabis

In his own practice in Marin County, California, Dr. Moskowitz asked his patients if they were interested in trying medicinal cannabis. For those who were, he followed them in a separate database to see what it did for their pain, stress, quality of life, sleep, energy and focus. The last two of which he expected were going to be worse. He also considered if they were on opioid medications, if they lowered them.

His book further explains how he worked with his patients, and ultimately, he discovered that cannabis is an infinite treatment. There were so many combinations and permutations that you can never run out of ideas.

Knowing only the THC and CBD content of a strain is limiting; it takes away the blending of the entourage effect and doesn’t help in recommending something based on its medical values.

“I did it [cannabis treatment] over nineteen and a half months, and I followed 161 people. Every time [a patient] came in, I would talk to them about their pain, stress, sleep, quality of life, energy, focus. And if they were on opioids, did they lower their opioids? At the end, 87% of the patients reported pain reduction, 81% reported improved sleep, 73% improved stress, and 76% improved quality of life. Those are remarkable numbers in a practice like mine. We get tough cases and we work them for years and years and years, so I really know these people. It’s not like a typical study where you’re getting randomized strangers from out in the world. These are my patients, and I know them pretty well. It also brings in a little bias in their results because they want to please me, but I’ve done many of these things with neuroplasty over the years and I never saw such a robust response.”

Other results included 53% reporting improved energy and only 7% worse energy. 43% reported improved focus and only 8% worse focus. They weren’t stopping their other medications, just adding this treatment and then adjusting whatever needed adjusted. 71.3% of patients reduced their opioids and 14% came off of them completely.

The ensemble effect that Dr. Moskowitz has tapped is there for a reason. In the plant, it’s there to help the plant survive in nature, but the doctor is quick to point out that over the last 30,000 years, humans have moved the plant from the three isolated places it existed in the world (Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and equatorial South America). “We’ve planted this in closets, desert, in rocks, in water, and in the air. We’ve done all kinds of things with it and we’ve totally changed the genetics of the plant. We’ve also used it in mass quantities. We’ve really passed these genes to most of the population, so most people have adapted to this plant even though they’ve never had it,” he said. Another reason why this is important is because it faults animal studies. Humans have a unique interaction with cannabis , no rat or dog or monkey has adapted to cannabis over the last 30,000 years.

As more dispensaries open and have quality medicinal products available, we should request they begin to give more information on their labels. Knowing only the THC and CBD content of a strain is limiting; it takes away the blending of the entourage effect and doesn’t help in recommending something based on its medical values.

When purchasing medicine, not only is strain knowledge important (beyond “sativa” and “indica”) but also the embodiment of the way they’re manufactured, whether it’s tinctures, capsules, vaporizers, etc. New laws in different states are emerging to make testing imperative, but the lack of consistency in testing itself is still an issue. Dr. Moskowitz added that it would be beneficial if at least nine cannabinoids were covered in the testing and available on the labeling. With so much more to discover in this early phase of cannabis research, his book is a fantastic and easily accessible guide into everything you need to know about using medicinal cannabis today.

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