So you live in a state or other area where marijuana is a legal recreational drug or are a patient or caregiver in a place where medical is allowed? Just like many other things in your life, you think why pay someone else (a dispensary) when you can DIY... Think this over, because growing weed is hard growing good weed is hard.

I spent a week in southern Oregon during the harvest at a farm with nearly 150 plants split among a couple properties. The owner is what is referred to as a caregiver and according individual state laws a caregiver is allowed to grow a certain amount of plants for each patient they serve. They then sell the rest to dispensaries typically.

Full disclosure: I don’t smoke weed anymore, but pass no judgement on anyone who decides to use it recreationally. I think the medical benefits are immense and should be explored more. I respect anyone that disagrees with anything I’ve just said, but any incoherent comments will be dismissed.

I soaked up as much information as possible and worked my ass off for that week. Now it’s time for me to pass some of this off to you before you decide to buy from a sketchy dealer, grow your own, find a caregiver, or buy from a dispensary.

What Type of Weed Do You Want and How Would You Like to Consume It?

[Photo: Leafly]

Do you want CBD or THC?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is non-psychoactive and evidence suggests it carries medical benefits including but not limited to: nausea relief, anti-seizure, psychosis treatment, anti-inflamatory, combats neurodegenerative disorders, fights cancer cells, and treats anxiety/depression. CBD strains are more common for medical use as they have less side-effects and can be used to treat younger patients. Charlotte’s Web and AC/DC are a couple of the more common high CBD strains and have less than 1% THC.

Tetrahydrocannabinol is psychoactive, but is often better for causing drowsiness and pain relief. Strains high in THC are often more desirable to the recreational user. (The highest THC content I saw while I was there in bud form was 25-30%)

Do You Want to Smoke, Vape, Dab, Eat, Drink, or Rub?

So you might be saying “Wait, what?!?!” Yes, I separate vaporizing and dabs as one deals exclusively with extract (sometimes called shatter, wax, or whatever else your hipster friends can come up with). Yes, you can eat or drink it no matter what your local D.A.R.E. program told you. Yes, you can get creams to rub on swollen and sore joints.

Smoking is fairly self explanatory and continues to be the most common. Vaping is becoming more common now that you don’t have to get expensive equipment and can get disposable vape pens (filled with extract).

“Dabs” are the raddest thing for your monster drinking, skinny jeaned punk of a neighbor.*

*Okay that’s not exactly fair. Out here on the East Coast, buying weed is still kind of sketchy and these are often home-brew dabs that are probably very bad for your health because of the gasses used in the process. Where I was they had it down to a science and were using food-grade everything. Leave this to the professionals.

Cooking with weed has been around forever and I’ll leave it to you if you want to stink up your kitchen or just buy ready-made goods.

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Drinks are new to me but I heard of a few guys doing it right and I don’t think I’d have the motivation to try to make something when a joint and a beer is probably easier.

Oil rubs are usually very high in CBD and are extremely effective for joint pain and inflammation. It is unlikely to show up on a drug test as well.

I know. This is a lot of information and good info is hard to come by as quality research is being fought against by the government. I’ll move on to some basics of growing.

Growing

Indoor or Outdoor?

Indoor can take about 3-4 months, but is often much quicker as doing it from clones rather than seed not only gives your plant a head start, but also ensures the gender of your plants (you want females). Indoor will also require lighting, heating, and a good amount of space.

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Outdoor will take a bit longer, but your plants can get much bigger and have the same THC levels as indoor, given the right weather conditions. Northern California and southern Oregon are perfect climates for this because they are so dry, hot, and sunny. This allows the growers to control the water intake as long as they don’t get caught in a wildfire...

The plants I was working with were outdoor and probably averaged about 12’ high by 12’ in diameter.

The Soil?

So you found some clones or are going to take a risk with some seeds, now what? You’ll want soil well drained to prevent root rot, ph neutral (this should be monitored regularly), and contains some sort of humus.

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As far as fertilizer goes there is going to be a lot to think about but there are some DIY recipes that are fairly simple and very effective. These often contain fish scraps and molasses like this one.

The Structure?

Weed plants are delicate and will need to be held up just like tomato plants (except these are 12’ tall!) and I’m unsure if anyone has tried to grow it upside down yet. Also watch for rodents eating the roots, deer eating the stalks and leaves, and bugs. Oh god there are so many bugs.

Trimming?

You’re going to want to trim leaves below the developing buds. This will make room for new growth and keep the plant from becoming too heavy or being affected as much by the wind. Depending on the number of plants, you could be trimming a lot.

The Harvest

Picking

So it’s time to pick? You’re going to want a long sleeve shirt (that you don’t plan on wearing to a job interview in after), scissors/clippers, and some nitrile gloves (to be safe for those with latex allergies)... This shit is sticky.

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Be careful not to kick up too much dust or drop the buds. I like to think about that scenario like eating shellfish, there’s bound to be some dirt, but the less the better. Also try not to bruise the buds and only grab it by the stem or a leaf.

Transport your pickings in close-able tubs or totes that are clean and dry. Don’t fill them all the way if there is still dew on the buds and keep the totes and bud out of the sun after picking.

Drying and Finishing

While still wearing your gloves you’ll want to clip off the leaves and get rid of any unnecessary stems before hanging your crop or putting it on screens to dry.

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Dry it in a cool, dark space where humidity and temperature can be controlled. You’ll probably want a dehumidifier to speed up this process.

After it’s dry, you’ll want to do some last minute trimming and it can be vacuum sealed to last longer. At this point you can decide what you want to do with it.

My Thoughts

Don’t. It’s a lot of fucking work and there is a reason why people do it professionally. I think we’ll see the mainstream rise of this industry soon.

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