‘Help, I’m terrified of THC!’

Getting high isn’t always giggles and gaiety for everyone. In fact, too much of the euphoria-inducing cannabinoid, THC, can give a number of people unwanted symptoms of paranoia, dizziness, racing heart, fatigue—or sometimes a hellscape of all four.

If this all sounds familiar, or you’re new to weed but wary, you might feel you’re just not cut out for cannabis. But consider hot sauce: some people drown their food in fiery spice, while others are content with a single drop. THC is sort of the same, and how you experience this cannabinoid has more to do with your unique genetic makeup than other factors such as age, gender, what you ate that day or even the number of times you’ve consumed it in the past.

Dr. Rattan Pasenar, medical director of Cannaway Clinic, explains cannabinoid receptors have genetic variations from person to person, which is why two people can consume the same amount and yet have vastly different experiences.

“Each of us has a unique receptor physiology. Some people may react differently depending on their receptors, which may contribute to whether someone has an enjoyable experience or not,” he says.

He also points out the feeling of being high is subjective, much the same as alcohol is enjoyed by some, but not everyone. “Some people may not like any feeling of impairment, and this holds true with cannabis,” he offers.

So you might have sensitive cannabis receptors. Now what? The good news is we’re in the age of legal cannabis, which means you can access clinical expertise combined with an enormous range of regulated products. In this day and age, medical patients and recreational consumers alike can get the most from weed without the unwanted side effects. Here’s how to make it work for you:

It’s said over and over (and over) again, but Pasenar reiterates this wise cannabis adage: Start low, and go slow.

  • “Low” means a really low dose of cannabis
  • “Slow” means allowing your body enough time to absorb the product fully, which can take up to four hours

“This [rule] applies to the ingestion of cannabis oils as well as the inhalation of cannabis flower or vapour from a vaporizer,” he explains. Health Canada recommends consuming edibles with less than 2.5 mg THC, and waiting up to four hours to feel any effects. If smoking or vaping, Health Canada says to start with just one or two puffs from a strain with less than 10% THC, and wait up to 30 minutes.

For medical patients, including recreational consumers who are self-diagnosing, Pasenar emphasizes the importance of getting assessed by a cannabis-specializing physician who can guide you to the right dosage and method of ingestion. “This is especially important for people who are already taking other medications to ensure interactions or risks associated with their existing treatment plan are managed properly.”

The legacy market laid the groundwork for today’s legal cannabis. But in the decades leading up to legalization, weed was bred to contain very high THC levels—not ideal for sensitive types. Buying from legal sources not only takes the guesswork out of product potency, Pasenar stresses it’s the only way you can be sure of exactly what you’re getting.

“Current day cannabis is different than the cannabis of the past,” he says. “Today’s cannabis is highly regulated by Health Canada, and includes a variety of different strains, formulations and intake methods; this is beneficial to the medical patient as well as the new recreational consumer.”

If a party joint from back in the day made you freak out, Pasenar assures this isn’t a reason to avoid cannabis forever. “Individuals who have historically had negative experiences with cannabis should not feel anxious or nervous to try cannabis for medical purposes under the supervision of a medical team.” He says the approach in this instance is a treatment plan of predominantly CBD with low doses of THC. For patients who are still hypersensitive to the effects of THC—which he says is rare—the medical team can quickly adjust and refine dosage and treatment.

In this age of CBD hype it can be tempting to think of CBD as the therapeutic sibling to intoxicating THC, as if they’re opposite sides of a cannabis moral coin. This is simply not true. Both cannabinoids—which are just—two of many—have therapeutic qualities. A recent study published in Nature suggests cannabis that includes THC provides greater symptom relief for a broad range of health issues compared to consumption of CBD alone. Pasenar explains the entourage effect is a theory suggesting that the entire cannabis plant provides greater therapeutic results than any individual component on its own.

“We have observed at Cannaway that full-spectrum cannabis products provide better symptomatic relief, which may be attributed to the entourage effect,” he says. “When we prescribe a low dose of THC in combination with CBD and a complete terpene profile, we have seen better efficacy in many patients anecdotally than when CBD is taken on its own.”

And no, patients don’t have to suffer through unwanted funny feelings. Says Pasenar: “When we introduce THC to a patient, they will often start by taking it at nighttime, before bed. Nighttime is when feelings of euphoria are minimized since the patient is sleeping, and there is less risk of the patient driving or operating heavy equipment.”

First of all, Pasenar reassuringly points out that no one—neither patients nor recreational consumers—has ever died from an overdose of cannabis. He suggests feelings of paranoia, fatigue, palpitations or dizziness from a high dose of THC can be countered with a high-CBD product, which can block the effect of THC at the CB1 receptors, and may help alleviate some symptoms. (Although in very rare case of psychosis or hallucinations, he says seek immediate medical attention.) But for the vast majority of people, time in a comfortable space is the best course of action.

In addition to taking CBD, Pasenar says you can also try eating a meal to slow down THC absorption in the gut, and that taking a nap may help alleviate some symptoms (and kill time).

Pasenar reiterates that medical patients are in good hands, and that they should have no apprehension to using low doses of THC in conjunction with CBD. “We have seen that this allows us to successfully treat a variety of medical aliments, and our patients are able to achieve better symptomatic relief and increase their quality of life.”

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Seniors, it’s okay that you still love cannabis

When people think of cannabis consumers, the first image that usually comes to mind is someone in their early 20’s—that fun time in life. But today’s older adults are the people who created the foundational cannabis subculture for the industry that exists today. And some of them never stopped toking! (Why should only one part of life be the fun time?) Others put it aside while raising children, then returned once their responsibilities let up. And still others know it as a wonderful remedy for their many ailments.

We caught up with some of our elder cannabis fans, getting their perspective on matters of today, and some great tidbits from times past. Read on to find out (or remember) what a ‘lid’ is, munchie memories of the ‘60s, and lots more.

seniors enjoying cannabis, older adults consuming marijuana

(Courtesy of Paula Janowiec and Ken Hale)

Paula and Ken are a married couple residing in Oregon, living in a picturesque country home with several towering cannabis plants growing in the yard. Ken reports that he’s been using cannabis for 50 years, mostly recreationally, but currently uses a CBD balm on his knees and back, as well as edibles for sleep.

However, Ken says that he also has a great time with it. “Cannabis lets you notice one form of sensory input and really let it all in. It makes me feel more comfortable in my own skin. Like I can’t dance, but when I smoke marijuana it makes me feel like I can—and I almost can!”

Paula’s mostly uses cannabis socially, saying, “When we have friends over I just have one hit on the pipe and I feel like I had three cocktails—we laugh and laugh, and it’s so much healthier!” They like using a pipe when friends come over, and often when they’re hanging out at home together in the evenings.

Since they grow their own cannabis, they’ve also got plenty to share. Ken makes a lot of CBD cookies for medical needs of loved ones; a friend of theirs actually used them to get off of opiates, now able to sleep through the night with only a cookie for aid.

Though they’re happy with the current state of canna-affairs, they are shocked at the prices of cannabis these days. Ken remembers that he bought a lid, which was slang for about an ounce of cannabis, for $10. He says, “People now call it the ‘good old days’ because of that, but they weren’t the good old days—it was illegal! We were always worried, and now you drive down the road and there’s signs—‘NEED WEED?’—I’d have thought that was heaven back then!”

seniors enjoying cannabis, older adults consuming marijuana

(Courtesy of Paula Janowiec and Ken Hale)

Ken started smoking in college, during the ’60s, sharing that people mostly carried joints at the time, but sometimes at parties someone would bring out a bong. Though Paula and cannabis didn’t hang while her kids were still growing up (picking it up again when she met Ken), she was introduced to cannabis while she was in college, in 1966. She told us that it was usually 8-10 people sitting around listening to all the great music from the 60’s, just talking and laughing.

When asked for their favorite munchies of yore, the two were quick and decisive in answering. Paula’s was rather inventive: a can of Spanish rice and a can of refried beans, served on a tortilla (warmed directly on the stove burner). And Ken’s: “Jack in the Box’s hot apple turnover, vanilla milkshake, combined!” He shared that once the guy at the Box asked if they had the munchies and they responded, “If it weren’t for munchies, you wouldn’t be in business!”

Though Paula’s kids didn’t know her as a cannabis fan growing up, legality and adulthood have made it a family affair. The first time they all did it, they’d gotten together for dinner and Ken said, “Want to smoke a joint before dinner?” And one of the adult children replied, “This is just too weird.” But they did it nonetheless—and it was a great experience.

They say now it’s pretty normal, passing a pipe around while hanging out playing games or vaping at Christmas.

Carol is another person who blends medical and recreational cannabis use, but she says these days it’s mostly medical. Between a bad back, symptoms from surgery, a couple of collapsed discs, a hurt rib, arthritis, and more—cannabis has got its hands full.

“I’m stable, and part of it is because four years ago I was able to get my medical card and become legal,” Carol said. “It helps everything, including the depression. But mostly what it does is helps me by giving me something I can concentrate on so that I forget about the pain.”

She started enjoying cannabis in 1961 while living in New York. She had an easy connection to get cannabis until she left the city in 1981, but since she was in nearby New Jersey, she’d just take a quick trip into the city to get what she needed.

That stopped around the turn of the century, leaving her with only sporadic cannabis connections—but her passion for poker saved the day. After she joined a game with some young people—“poker kids,” as she fondly calls them—she “found a source for some supply.” Then, four years ago, legal medical cannabis really started hooking her up.

Carol recalls the first time that she tried medical cannabis. “It was so intense. The first day I came home and smoked on my porch legally, the first thing I did was to go inside and write a letter to the dispensary asking if they had a position in the garden.”

She says she was blown away that there are people fighting for legal cannabis. “This magnificent movement around the country to make nature’s miracle pain medicine available…I never thought I’d live to see it happen. It is just wonderful.”

And she wound up becoming one of those people fighting for legal cannabis. After discovering that she went to high school with one of the organizers, she joined the New Jersey cannabis community last November. She went to a social event with the group and it was the first time in 20 years she had smoked with people who were used to smoking.

“For the first time, I was in the company of people who were not only using marijuana medically, but were fighting actively for homegrown and other aspects of legalization that should be the right of everyone, and isn’t.”

They gave her her very first dab, and she proved to be a champion. “I took an enormous inhalation and everybody was astonished and labeled me ‘Sturmella Iron Lung’ on the spot,” Carol said. (‘Sturmella’ is a nickname that comes from her maiden name, ‘Sturm.’)

Though friends her age are generally tolerant of her use, she doesn’t yet get to share her love of cannabis with many of her peers. “Younger people always think I’m cool because I’m very forthright. The older people…I don’t know.”

She told us that her friend was dying of Parkinson’s disease, and she wanted to help her with cannabis, but her husband refused to consider it because he saw Reefer Madness when he was young, and now nothing’s going to change his mind. “That is the danger of misinformation of that kind,” she told us wistfully.

“I love, love, love the people I’ve been meeting through [cannabis],” she told us before emphasizing how much Marijuana Mommy (Jessie Gill) has helped. Together they got Carol off of painkillers by using specific strains for specific problems.

Without the drug-induced lethargy, she’s been able to get moving again. “It’s gotten me up and out of bed and it’s got me doing things again; it’s gotten off the weight I put on from sitting around doing nothing—and I’m not going back.”

She’s lost 55 pounds since cannabis helped her quit the sedentary life four years ago, telling us that she has a normal BMA “for the first time this century.”

But there are also definite elements of “recreational” use at play, she shared with happiness in her voice. “[Cannabis] heightens music, and it makes me feel good. It makes me feel alive,and it makes me want to get up and out of bed. And at this point that’s what I need.”

Kate (who preferred not to give her last name) started smoking in the 1970s and hasn’t stopped since. She says she used to smoke sticks ‘n stems before she moved to NYC in 1976 and discovered sensimilla, and it was a whole new experience. Kate still spends most of her time in New York, where cannabis is only legal for medical use, so continually getting high-quality cannabis can be an issue.

Luckily, she met that hero of a dealer who introduced her to sensi; and when he left town he passed her onto another. The next dealer did the same. And the next. And now, nearly 44 years after arriving in NYC, she shares that this chain remains unbroken, even though her last connection died of cancer.

“On our last phone call, he said, ‘And don’t forget, you can always see PJ’. Here’s this guy, dying of cancer, and he’s worried about me and my pot connection!” Kate said.

Kate says she’s not too worried about getting caught. “You walk in Manhattan and you smell weed all the time. It’s not enforced, and, if anything, you get a ticket. Or, I should say, it’s not enforced if you’re a white person, to be honest with you,” she shared, with irritation in her voice. “Whenever I read about people getting busted for marijuana smoking, it’s disproportionately people of color. I’m white and I’m old—so I’m not going to get busted.”

When asked what she likes about cannabis, she replied, “I like the high. And it’s different from drinking. I can’t say that I’ve ever gotten so stoned that I fell down, which happened to me drinking in the past.” She enjoys cannabis a few times a week, loving the ritual of rolling up a joint, the puffing, and how it looks sitting smoking in the ashtray.

Kate also lives in a building where she’s not worried about anyone complaining about the smell associated with her hobby, as she resides in an artist’s community. In fact, many of her neighbors smoke, too. Since most of the tenants move in, love it, and never leave, she says it’s become a “naturally occurring retirement community.” She enjoys having neighbors who are like-minded peers, sharing that she enjoys smoking with a couple different neighbors her age, as well as flying solo.

All-in-all, cannabis life for Kate hasn’t changed all that much since the 70’s, though she does enjoy a vape pen when she goes to the Jersey Shore, where the houses are close together and the smell of a joint is too conspicuous. She also reminisced about one stoney pastime from back in the day, one that we’d have loved, too: ironic showings of the 1936 anti-cannabis propaganda film, Reefer Madness, which played at midnight.

“We were probably stoned out of our minds, but we thought it was hilarious.”

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8 ways to sober up from being high

Any cannabis consumer can tell you that if there’s one feeling no one enjoys, it’s the moment when you realize, “I’m too high.” Maybe the edible kicked in three hours late. Perhaps you tried to impress a group of friends by breathing in a little bit too deeply. You might have just tried concentrates for the first time and were caught off guard by their potency. Or maybe you are just a low-tolerance consumer.

There are a thousand ways it can happen, but once it does, the resulting experience can be uncomfortable and enough to turn off even the most seasoned cannabis lover.

After smoking weed, how long you stay high depends on a variety of factors: consumption method, dosage, and unique individual variables that can vary from person to person. Typically, the higher the potency of a cannabis product, the longer the high will last. Concentrates are the most potent form of cannabis, with flower and edibles following behind. This could mean that it would take longer to sober up from dabs than smoking a bowl, however dosage and your body’s chemistry would still be the decider here. It’s also important to note that the everyday smoker with a higher weed tolerance will sober up a lot faster than the occasional consumer who hits the party joint a couple of times.

Anecdotally speaking, the average cannabis high can last anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours at its peak, with some lingering effects still felt for a period of time after. Some highs have been known to last a lot longer. Thankfully, there are ways to help come back down and sober up when you feel too high, overwhelmed, or uncomfortable from excessive cannabis consumption.

what to do when you're too high, how to help when you're too high, smoked too much marijuana

(Amy Phung/Leafly)

1. Don’t panic

what to do if you're too high

(Leafly)

Let us start with the infinite wisdom of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

DON’T PANIC. YOU ARE FINE AND EVERYTHING IS OKAY.

Most symptoms of “greening out” (imbibing too much cannabis) will dissipate within minutes to hours, with no lasting effects beyond a little grogginess. Give it some time and these feelings will eventually pass, trust us.

Also, contrary to what you may have heard, there have been zero reported cannabis overdose deaths in the history of ever, so despite how freaked out you may feel or how sweaty you get, you won’t expire from excessive consumption. (Don’t take that on as a challenge, just keep in mind that if you accidentally overdo it, you’ll be OK in a while.)

2. Try water and light snacks

what to do if you're too high

(Leafly)

Water, water, water—don’t forget to hydrate! Whether you prefer water or juice, make sure you have a nice, cold beverage on hand (preferably non-caffeinated). This will help you combat dry mouth and allow you to focus on a simple and familiar act—sipping and swallowing.

Keep in mind that by “hydrate,” we don’t mean “knock back a few alcoholic beverages.” If you’re feeling the effects of your strain a little too aggressively, stay away from alcohol as it can increase THC blood concentrations.

Some people find that a light snack helps to feel a little more grounded. Consider grazing on some fruits, nuts, or cheese, and see if it’s a little easier to connect mind and body.

3. Know your limits before consuming

what to do if you're too high

(Leafly)

If you can, try to prepare for your cannabis session according to your tolerance level. Okay, this tip won’t help you once you’re already over the edge, but it can help you avoid an uncomfortable situation next time.

Consume with friends you know and are comfortable with, and don’t feel pressured to consume more than you can handle. It’s all well and good to make new friends, but being surrounded by strangers when you can’t feel your face is unpleasant at best and anxiety-ridden at worst.

Take it slow, especially when consuming edibles. We recommend trying a standard dose of 10 mg (or even 5 mg if you really want to ease into the experience) and waiting at least an hour, if not two, before increasing your edibles dosage. The same goes for inhalation methods—if you’re used to occasionally taking one hit off your personal vaporizer, we advise not sitting in a smoking circle puffing and passing for an hour.

4. Keep some black pepper handy

what to do if you're too high

(Leafly)

If you find yourself combating paranoia and anxiety, a simple household ingredient found in kitchens and restaurants everywhere can come to your rescue: black pepper. Many swear by the black pepper trick, even Neil Young! Just sniff or chew on a few black peppercorns and it should provide almost instantaneous relief.

5. Keep calm and rest

what to do if you're too high

(Leafly)

Find a calm, quiet place where you can rest and breathe deeply. Remember, the intense discomfort you’re feeling will pass. Take deep full breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on the sound of your breath and just rest a while.

Sometimes sleeping it off can be the best alternative to stopping a strong high, but it’s not always easy to turn your brain off. Once you’ve found a quiet area, lay down and let yourself relax. If drowsiness and sleep are quick to onset, take a little nap to rejuvenate yourself. Should you be unable to fall asleep, just get comfortable until you feel strong enough to spring back up.

6. Try going for a walk

what to do if you're too high

(Leafly)

If you can’t turn your brain off, sometimes a change of scenery and some fresh air to get your blood pumping will help invigorate you. Just remember to stay close to your immediate surroundings—we don’t want you wandering off and getting lost while you’re feeling anxious and paranoid! And refrain from taking a walk if you’re feeling too woozy or light-headed to stand; instead, we recommend Option #5 and lay down for a while.

7. Take a shower or bath

what to do if you're too high

(Leafly)

While it’s not always feasible if you’re out and about or at a friend’s house, if you’re at home, try taking a nice shower or bath as a really pleasant option to help relax while you wait for the effects of smoking too much weed to dissipate.

8. Distract yourself!

what to do if you're too high

(Leafly)

All of the activities that seem so entertaining and fun while high are also a great way to distract yourself while you try to come back down to Earth. Some suggestions include:

  • Watch a funny cartoon
  • Listen to your favorite album
  • Play a video game
  • Talk to your friends (who are hopefully right by your side, reassuring you)
  • Snuggle with your significant other
  • Try coloring as a calming activity (seriously, adult coloring books are becoming all the rage lately)
  • Eat something delicious

Whatever distractions you prefer, make sure it’s a familiar activity that gives you warm, fuzzy emotions. Your brain will hopefully zone in on the positive feelings and give you a gentle reminder that you are safe and just fine.

Bonus tip: Try some CBD to counter the effects of smoking too much weed

CBD is an excellent anxiety-fighting compound, and for many people it can be used to counteract too much THC. Learn how CBD’s anti-anxiety mechanisms work by modulating the receptor signaling associated with THC.

If all of these suggestions fail and you find that you are still feeling alarmingly uncomfortable, you can always seek medical attention and tell a doctor or nurse that you are having a cannabis-induced anxiety attack. This option is always available, even in states where cannabis is illegal. From a medical perspective, physicians have your best interest in mind and want to do all they can to make sure you’re OK, even if it’s helping you come down when you’re too stoned.

Browse Leafly Market for CBD products

Hopefully, however, the above suggestions were just what you needed to counteract and hopefully stop that too-intense cannabis high. (Or, if none of these work, you could always follow Snoop Dogg’s advice and “put ur face in mayonnaise.”)

How do you stop being high and come down from overwhelming cannabis effects? Share your tips in the comments section!

Authors Lisa Rough and Dante Jordan contributed to this article. This post was originally published on August 15, 2015. It was most recently updated on February 5, 2020.

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Cannabis seeds 101: A guide for growers

Cannabis is grown from one of two sources: a seed or a clone. Seeds carry genetic information from two parent plants that can be expressed in numerous different combinations, some like the mother, some like the father, and many presenting various traits from both. Generally, commercial cannabis producers will plant many seeds of one strain and choose the best plant. They will then take clones from that individual plant to get consistent genetics for mass production.

But for the typical homegrower, it may be easier to obtain seeds rather than clones. Growing from seed can produce a stronger plant with more solid genetics. Read on for more info on cannabis seeds.

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Cannabis can be either male or female—also called “dioecious”—but only females produce the buds we all know and love. However, for reproduction, the flower of a female plant must be pollinated by a male plant, after which the female flower produces seeds. Once the seeds are mature, the female plant begins to die, and seeds are either dropped to the ground where they germinate and grow into new cannabis plants the next spring, or they are harvested for processing into hemp seed oil, food products, or to be sown to become the next generation of plants.

To get the buds you find in medical and recreational stores, female cannabis plants are grown in an environment without males—or the males are removed from the area before they release pollen—so that they don’t pollinate and create seeds. This high-potency marijuana is traditionally known as “sinsemilla,” meaning “seedless.”

Some varieties of cannabis can produce male parts alongside female flowers on the same plant, especially if exposed to environmental stressors. These plants are known as hermaphrodites, and sometimes they can self-pollinate to create seeds.

marijuana seeds in wooden bowl

Feminized cannabis seeds will produce only female plants for getting buds, so there is no need to remove males or worry about the plants getting pollinated. Feminized seeds are produced by causing the monoecious, or hermaphrodite condition in a female cannabis plant. The resulting seeds are nearly identical to the self-pollinated—or “selfed”—female parent, as only one set of genes is present.

This is sometimes referred to as “cloning by seed” and will not produce any male plants. This is achieved through several methods:

  • By spraying the plant with a solution of colloidal silver, a liquid containing tiny particles of silver
  • Through a method known as rodelization, in which a female plant pushed past maturity can pollinate another female
  • Spraying seeds with gibberellic acid, a hormone that triggers germination (this is much less common)

Most experienced growers will not use feminized seeds because they only contain one set of genes, and these should never be used for breeding purposes.

Check out Leafly’s Growing section for more on how to grow cannabis 

Most cannabis plants begin flowering when the amount of light they are exposed to each day is reduced to about 12 hours. This mimics the sun going down in the sky as the season turns to autumn, causing plants to produce buds regardless of size or age. However, a species of the plant, called Cannabis ruderalis, which developed in extreme northern conditions without much sunlight, will begin flowering once the plant reaches a certain age—they automatically start flowering regardless of the amount of light they receive, hence the term “autoflower.”

Some breeders have crossbred the low-THC ruderalis with other more potent varieties to create autoflower strains that start blooming as soon as they reach maturity. These can be easier to maintain and can be especially great in northern climates where summers are short and cold and wet weather comes early in the fall.

Autoflower strains can be started in early spring and will flower during the longest days of summer to take advantage of the highest quality light available. Growers can fit in multiple autoflower harvests in the span of a regular harvest. One drawback, though: Autoflower strains are known for being less potent.

weed seeds in wooden spoon on hemp doily

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the chemical components—known collectively as cannabinoids—found in the cannabis plant. Lately, much has been made of the potential benefits of CBD for treating the symptoms of many diseases and conditions. Over the years, humans have selected plants for high-THC content, making cannabis with high levels of CBD rare. The genetic pathways through which THC is synthesized by the plant are different than those for CBD production.

Cannabis used for hemp production has been selected for other traits, including a low THC content, so as to comply with the 2018 Farm Bill. Consequently, many varieties of hemp produce significant quantities of CBD. As interest in CBD as a medicine has grown, many breeders have been crossing high-CBD hemp with cannabis. These strains have little or no THC, 1:1 ratios of THC and CBD, or some have a high-THC content along with significant amounts of CBD (3% or more).

Seeds for these varieties are now widely available online and through dispensaries. It should be noted, however, that any plant grown from these seeds is not guaranteed to produce high levels of CBD, as it takes many years to create a seed line that produces consistent results. A grower looking to produce cannabis with a certain THC to CBD ratio will need to grow from a tested and proven clone or seeds.

The most important factor in seed quality is genetics—to grow quality cannabis, you need good genetics. Some less scrupulous breeders will simply cross a nice female with a random male and sell the resulting seeds. A good breeder will take time to cross and backcross plants to stabilize the most desirable traits, while still producing an array of different phenotypes.

Seeds must also be allowed to fully mature before harvest. They also must be properly stored so they don’t acquire mold or other pathogens that can spoil them. Seeds should be stored in a cool, dark place and used within 16 months, or frozen for future use.

Really dedicated breeders have worked for years to create inbred lines, or IBLs, that will produce plants with very little noticeable difference. IBLs represent only a small fraction of cannabis seeds on the market, as they are generally used by breeders and not by producers.

Cannabis seeds can be found on numerous online seedbanks, but note that it is illegal to bring seeds into the US and Customs will seize any cannabis seeds that they find in packages or on a person. In legal and medical states, you may purchase seeds at a dispensary.

Learn more about how to buy cannabis seeds, the legality of doing so, and costs in our Guide to buying cannabis seeds.

This post was originally published on April 2, 2016. It was most recently updated on February 5, 2020.

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