Experiencing cannabis in the 21st century is exciting. There’s a smorgasbord of different kinds of products to try, each with their own purposes and effects. Lots of people choose to ditch smoking because, well, inhaling combusted plant material into your lungs isn’t all that healthy. Eating cannabis a healthier way to consume, and as you’re going to discover, can have a different set of effects and medical uses. 

Understanding the difference between smoking and edibles is easier when we break down the different ways that these two ingestion methods are processed by the body. Inhaled cannabis essentially sends cannabinoids directly to the brain and bloodstream, whereas edibles first have to pass through the digestive tract, first and second pass metabolism before they enter the bloodstream. 

Naturally, the different metabolic processes change the way that the user perceives the effect of cannabis. Let’s have a look at the edibles experience at a glance.

Edibles vs smoking at a glance.

It’s already pretty clear that edibles take longer to take effect, last much longer, and can have a stronger “stone over” effect. 

Avg. time of onsetRecommended waiting timePeak highCome down
Edibles30 mins – 1 hr2 hours2-5 hours7-12 hours
SmokingImmediately-10 minutes10 minutes1-3 hours2-5 hours

It’s also worth mentioning that inhaling cannabis has a greater bioavailability than edibles. That means less cannabis is actually absorbed into target tissues when you eat it. 

But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

For certain medical consumers, it might be more pertinent to get cannabinoids to the right places (like the intestines, for example), rather than just loading up on more cannabinoids. In which case, the method of ingesting cannabis is just as important as the cannabis itself. Let’s check out how edible weed is digested compared to smoking.

Absorption of edible cannabinoids vs smoked cannabinoids

An illustration of the human digestive tract, decorated with flowers.

When we talk about the absorption, digestion, and elimination of a drug or substance, we’re talking about that substance’s pharmacokinetics. The pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of cannabis is extremely interesting for one very important reason: cannabinoids are lipophilic.

When it comes to liver metabolism of drugs, the primary objective of the liver is to break down substances and make them more water soluble. Water soluble things can easily be excreted in sweat or urine, but fat-soluble things will often find a “home” in fatty tissues. 

Side note: That storage of cannabinoids in fatty tissues is exactly why cannabis lingers so long in the human body. Alcohol, heroin, and cocaine are all excreted faster by the human body than cannabinoids.

When you consume a THC edible or CBD edible, it first travels through your digestive tract and into your stomach. In your stomach, some digestive acids like HCl start the breakdown process of the edible. It then travels to the small intestine where the rest of digestion takes place and the absorption process begins.

Another side note: Edibles are almost always made with fatty substances like butter or coconut oil. This is because the liver/gallbladder release bile salts which help fatty substances pass through the epithelial layer of the intestine and into the liver for metabolism. In the process of absorbing/digesting fatty substances, the cannabinoids can be facilitated across the basolateral layer.

Yes, this is a bit of human biology 101.

After absorption in the intestine, cannabinoids make their way to the liver where they undergo first and second pass metabolism. It’s during this process that the liver breaks down cannabinoids like CBD and THC into their metabolites. For example, THC is broken down into THC-COOH.

From here, cannabinoids and their metabolites can start moving through your blood into their target tissues. The brain is a major target tissue of cannabinoids, and cannabinoids can pass through the blood-brain-barrier. This is what gives you the sensation of being “stoned”. 

How is smoking different?

With smoking, the lungs are the first site of contact and that is where most absorption takes place (rather than through the intestines). Given that the lungs oxygenate the blood, it’s clearer why inhalation takes effect faster. As the lungs receive cannabinoids and go on to oxygenate blood, cannabinoids are delivered directly to blood and pass through the blood-brain-barrier. 

The benefits of eating cannabis

Aside from the fact that eating cannabis means you don’t do any damage to your lungs, there are other health advantages of using edible cannabis.

For those who suffer from digestive problems like IBS or Crohn’s disease, it’s better to send cannabinoids directly to the digestive tract – which can only occur through eating cannabis. The same goes for conditions that affect the liver or stomach.

The longer-lasting edible high also means that doses can be taken less frequently. Whereas a cannabis smoker who needs constant relief might have to smoke several times in one day, an edible may solve the problem for the better part of the day!

What does it feel like to use edibles?

A piece of cannabutter and a cannabis leaf on a plate.
@butter_lifestyle

Any seasoned edible user will tell you that the edible high is considerably different from the smoke high. It’s the same cannabinoids, but something about this ingestion method makes it somehow… different.

For starters, the edibles high lasts much, much longer. Now knowing how cannabis edibles are absorbed and processed by the body, it makes sense that it just takes the body a whole lot longer to move through it all.

Aside from lasting much longer, the edibles high is also typically more psychoactive than the smoking high. There’s no real logical explanation for this. It’s just stronger in general, making it more obvious to the body and mind. 

If you eat a cannabis edible at night, it’s often felt well into the morning. For those who need cannabis for a good night’s sleep, this is fantastic – it means that cannabis keeps working on you all throughout the night. For those who use cannabis for pain relief, it might be better to use a tincture at night time to minimise stone over.

The difference between cannabis edibles and tinctures.

At My Supply Co., we consider cannabis tinctures to be cannabis edible, too. That’s because they go in your mouth. However, the absorption of cannabis tinctures is a little bit different.

Cannabis tinctures are absorbed sublingually. That is, they go under the tongue and are absorbed through the mucous membranes of the tongue into the blood vessels directly under the tongue. In this way, cannabis tinctures don’t necessarily have to make their way through your digestive tract. They can be absorbed faster and their effects are also faster than traditional cannabis edibles.

The finest cannabis edibles from the My Supply Co. pantry.

A collage art of an angel holding up a piece of weed to the heavens.
@cannagazine

You should be well and truly convinced that for regular cannabis use, edibles are a fine option. But they’re also a fine option for every-now-and-then-cannabis-use if you like cannabis edibles at social events. Here are our finest edible products!

180mg THC Vegan Sour Bears

The THC Vegan Sour Bears fby Faded Cannabis Co. are delicious vegan treats that each contain 30mg THC. It’s a strong dose for those who like a strong high or those who have more potent medical issues to work with. Great to use to reduce stress and anxiety or do deal with pain.

120mg 1:5 CBD:THC Sativa Wigglers

Lovers of both THC and CBD, these 1:5 Sativa Wigglers are for you. Mota keeps things balanced with these gummies, with 2mg CBD and 10mg THC in each delicious candy. These are perfect for daytime use as they’re made with sativa cannabis. For anything that calls for a cannabis remedy, this is the perfect daytime symptom management.

80mg THC Indica Cara-Melts

Ahh, for the delicious and indulgent way to get THC into you. These THC Indica Cara-Melts are THC edibles and can be dropped into your tea to melt in or can be enjoyed as it is for its pure deliciousness. With 10mg per candy, this is a nice light dose for those who need an extra night-cap before bed or for those who like chilling out on the weekend and doing creative, relaxing things. 

Have you tried edible cannabis products before? What were the effects like for you? Share your experiences with us in the comments!

Anybody who uses cannabis every day will eventually start to notice their tolerance levels increasing. The body can easily develop tolerances to virtually any substance, even if it’s a non-psychoactive pharmaceutical drug. It can even happen with CBD-based cannabis products which aren’t psychoactive at all.

It just happens that you start to realise that day by day, you’re using more and more cannabis to get the same effect. It’s exactly the same as working out. The more you work a muscle, the stronger and more resistant it gets to the work out. Which is exactly the point when you need to switch up the workout.

It happens in herbal medicine a lot because genuinely natural materials are also much easier received and integrated by the body. Which means there are also ways that you can avoid a cannabis tolerance. 

In this article, we’re giving you tips on how to reset your cannabis tolerance or avoid it if you’re not already there.

Why does a cannabis tolerance happen?

You shouldn’t think of cannabis tolerance the same way you think about alcohol. Whereas with alcohol, your genetics, your sex, and your body-weight all are pretty indicative of your tolerance, no such predispositions exist with cannabis. You mostly don’t know until you try.

However, we do know that chronic cannabis use eventually leads to desensitisation to cannabinoids. Research shows that chronic THC use eventually causes the desensitisation and internalisation (retraction) of CB1 receptors. These are the receptors that respond to THC entering your body. If they retract back into the cell, then less interaction between cells and THC takes place. At the same time, we also know that these effects can be reversed after cessation of cannabis.

There’s less research about the effects of long-term CBD use, but it’s unlikely it happens in the same way as it happens with THC. CBD doesn’t have such a strong affinity for CB receptors. However, it does cause a cascade of events that involve other receptors, and with those constantly engaged, a tolerance is easily built.

It’s also important to remember that the endocannabinoid system is a balancing and regulating system. Its very purpose is to restore imbalances, so it’s not altogether strange that it responds to chronic cannabis use.

Avoiding a cannabis tolerance.

Tea bags full of herbal tea hanging in a row.

Prevention is the best cure — and avoiding a tolerance is better than having to reset one. Although… they’re kind of the same technique.

The first thing is obvious: if you use cannabis chronically, you will develop a tolerance. So the way to avoid it is to use it when you need it.

Alternate with other plants that have the same effects.

Some are using cannabis everyday for medicinal reasons, which means that identifying when you need it can be difficult. If you are using cannabis under medical advice, follow that medical advice. If you’re self-medicating, consider using other herbs that get the same effects in a different way.

It’s like taking a different route to get home. You get to the same destination but another way, and that way you don’t wear out the same pathways all the time. For example, if you use cannabis for pain, try alternating cannabis with magnesium baths or topical pain-relievers. If you use cannabis for anxiety, try alternating between cannabis and passionflower tea.

It can be as simple as a one-day-cannabis, one-day-not scenario. Alternatively, if cannabis is your “strongest” sleep aid or pain killer, you can reserve it for when nothing else is working.

Alternate between THC and CBD.

For THC users, you can alternate between THC-based cannabis products and CBD-based cannabis products. Alternating will reduce the likelihood, or it will take much longer, for the desensitisation and internalisation of CB receptors to occur.

Use a lower dosage.

To minimise the chance of building a cannabis tolerance, use the lowest possible dose you need to get the effects you want. The lower you keep the dose and the smaller the increments when you increase, the less likely you are to build a tolerance.

Combating a cannabis tolerance: taking the tolerance break.

A vintage picture of a woman holding cannabis buds
@exotic.cowgirl

It’s what no-one with a cannabis tolerance wants to hear but it’s what must be said. If you’ve got a way-too-high cannabis tolerance, the thing you absolutely have to do is take a tolerance break. Two weeks is long enough for your receptors to get re-wired and sensitive to cannabis again.

If you have a cannabis addiction or it’s the only therapy that works for you, taking a tolerance break can be really difficult. Your symptoms can come back and you might notice other withdrawal symptoms (like excessive dreaming or some agitation). But it only takes a couple of weeks for that tolerance to drop way down again.

Is it imperative to take a tolerance break? Well, yes — because if you don’t, your tolerance will only continue to increase. After a certain point, it can’t really be financially sustainable anymore to continue to increase your dose. Plus, many rivers lead to the same ocean, so there are always multiple ways of dealing with a health issue.

Once you’ve taken your tolerance break, it’s really important to take the advice of how to avoid getting a really high tolerance back. It’ll be way less painful for you in the future and way healthier for your cannabinoid system. Plus, it’s scientifically proven that a tolerance break works.

Have you taken a tolerance break before? How was it going back? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

The cannabis world is full of new terminology that can sometimes be confusing. The two worlds of cannabis and technology have merged together to create an enormous variety of different cannabis products. From this spawned the creation of full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate (or single cannabinoid) cannabis products.

These terms are just a hierarchy of cannabinoid profiles, where full-spectrum contains the whole cannabinoid profile, broad-spectrum contains some of it, and isolates contain just a single cannabinoid. It’s worth noting here that distillates are either broad-spectrum or full-spectrum. The word “distillate” simply refers to an extraction method, and not the final phytochemical profile.

Any given cannabis specimen contains up to 400 different chemical entities. Up to 60 of those could be cannabinoids. The spectrum here represents how many of these cannabinoids and compounds are represented. 

Maybe you’re wondering what the difference is between taking an isolated cannabinoid and a full-spectrum cannabis product. That’s the question we plan to answer in this article so that by the time you’re done reading, choosing will be kind of like choosing between full-cream, skinny, and soy.

The pros & cons of full-spectrum cannabis.

The full spectrum of the rainbow comes shining through a prism onto a cannabis flower
@_shadesofjade_

Full-spectrum cannabis, like its name suggests, is a cannabis product that contains the full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids. A full-spectrum cannabis product is created using extraction techniques that preserve the complete chemical profile of the plant as it existed on the day it was extracted.

It’s the full monty of cannabis products.

The pro.

The most important advantage of full-spectrum cannabis products is the fact that it can employ the full potential of the entourage effect. This is the effect caused by the synergistic activity of all the compounds in cannabis. It’s thought that through the entourage effect, the therapeutic potential of all compounds in cannabis (including cannabinoids and terpenoids) is amplified.

Given that full-spectrum cannabis products contain all cannabinoids and aromatic compounds, they retain the taste of cannabis. Full-spectrum extracts and edibles made with them retain the taste of the original plant specimen.

Choose full-spectrum cannabis products if…

  • You want the entourage effect in your life
  • You’re okay with using THC, even in small amounts
  • You don’t mind the taste of cannabis

The con.

Those who can’t use THC for legal reasons (such as getting drug tested for work) might not be able to safely use full-spectrum products. Even full-spectrum cannabis products made out of hemp contain small amounts of THC by the very nature of the fact that they’re full-spectrum. 

Those who simply want to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC can use a full-spectrum CBD. Full-spectrum CBD products are usually made out of hemp which contains very small amounts of THC. These small amounts are negligible when it comes to psychoactive effect.

Don’t choose full-spectrum if…

  • You don’t want to use THC at all 
  • You can’t palate the taste of cannabis

From the pantry.

If you’re curious to try some full-spectrum cannabis products, we recommend the 500mg CBD Tincture by Faded Cannabis Co. This hemp-derived tincture contains the full-spectrum so you can feel all the benefits of cannabis. Because this is a hemp-derived tincture, it contains only negligible amounts of THC and won’t have any psychoactive effects.

The pros & cons of broad-spectrum cannabis.

A close up of a growing cannabis flower.
@cannalinemarketing

Broad-spectrum cannabis is the next step down the ladder from full-spectrum cannabis. Instead of containing the entire chemical profile, it contains most of it?

So what does that mean?

Well, depending on the manufacturer, what they’re making, and why they’re making it, they may remove a single cannabinoid from the extract. For example, a broad-spectrum CBD product is created by first, creating a full-spectrum extract, and second, using fractional distillation to remove THC from that extract.

This leaves a final product that has all of the cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids intact bar THC. 

It’s unlikely that broad-spectrum ever happens in reverse. It’s unlikely for a manufacturer to create a broad-spectrum THC product. As CBD is non-psychoactive and has a good track record for being good for you, it’s not typically removed from a THC product.

However, broad-spectrum is also used when terpenes are re-added to an extract. For example, THC may be distilled and extracted to its pure form and used to create a vape juice. For the vape itself to have the taste of cannabis and the therapeutic effects of terpenes, the terpenes are re-added. This creates something like a pseudo-broad-spectrum effect.

As with full-spectrum products, because broad-spectrum cannabis products retain the flavonoids and terpenoids, these extracts also retain the taste of cannabis. 

The pros.

The advantage of using a broad-spectrum product is that you can avoid THC entirely without compromising the rest of the valuable compounds in the extract. For all intents and purposes, you get most of the entourage effect, but without the consequences of THC, whatever they may be for you.

Choose broad-spectrum cannabis products if…

  • You don’t want THC in your life at all (choose broad-spectrum CBD)
  • You don’t mind the taste of cannabis (choose broad-spectrum CBD or broad-spectrum THC)

The cons.

The con of broad-spectrum products is that they aren’t really the entourage effect. WIthout one of cannabis’ major cannabinoids (if not the major cannabinoid), it’s not reality the entourage effect. It’s most of it, but missing an important link. Some might also find broad-spectrum products a disadvantage because they lack psychoactive effects — but that’s all about preferences.

Don’t choose broad-spectrum cannabis products if…

  • You want the psychoactive effects of cannabis (don’t choose broad-spectrum CBD)
  • You want to feel the entourage effect in all of its greatness
  • You can’t palate the taste of cannabis

The pros & cons of isolate cannabis products.

A close up of a cBD or THC isolate crystal

@cbdxtract

Finally, we have isolate cannabis products such as THC isolate and CBD isolate. These come last on the hierarchy of cannabinoid profiles. As the name suggests, isolates contain a single cannabinoid compound only.

THC isolate and CBD isolate look more or less the same — a white, crystalline substance. There are no flavonoids, terpenoids, or other minor cannabinoids present. They are essentially pure cannabinoid extracts. Note that they don’t have a taste because there are no terpenoids or flavonoids. 

The pros.

Isolates have an interesting position in the world of cannabis. There are massive advantages to this feat of technology, and many of them are also enjoyed by the pharmaceutical cannabis industry. For the consumer, isolated cannabinoids have few uses. They can be used in DIY cannabis products such as cannabis topicals or CBD vape juice. They can be consumed directly, but dosing is much harder than with full-spectrum or broad-spectrum products.

The pharmaceutical cannabis can benefit greatly from cannabinoid isolates. For the purpose of clinical testing and clinical use, cannabis products must have very specific, very accurate cannabinoid ratios. This can only be consistently ensured using cannabinoid isolates. 

Commercially, isolates are used by cannabis product manufacturers to make vape juices, topical products, edibles, and tinctures. This is where things get interesting, because product manufacturers can create new and interesting cannabinoid ratios with isolates. Or they can make single-cannabinoid products for consumers to use.

For the consumer, isolated cannabinoids have the advantage of being a no surprise kind of thing. The experience is consistent every single time as there is less variation what constitutes full-spectrum between strains and cannabis varieties. The effects can be very targeted and therefore very user friendly.

When we talk about choosing an isolate product, we don’t necessarily mean choosing the powdery crystalline substance. We mean choosing a cannabis product that’s made with isolate cannabinoids

Choose isolate cannabinoid products if…

  • You don’t like the taste of cannabis 
  • You know that you want to use one cannabinoid and have no interest in the rest
  • You don’t need the entourage effect — you just want the effects of that single cannabinoid
  • You like your cannabis experience to be consistent, every single time

The cons.

The obvious major con to cannabinoid isolates is that they completely lack anything that even resembles an entourage effect. There’s no cross-communication between cannabinoids and aromatic compounds to create a holistic effect. This might be seen as a downside, and a price too big to pay for a consistent experience every time. 

Don’t choose isolate cannabinoid products if…

  • You can’t live without the entourage effect
  • You like getting as many therapeutic compounds into your body as possible
  • You love the taste of cannabis

From the pantry.

If you’re keen to experiment with isolate cannabinoid products, we recommend Delush’s 1200mg CBD solvent-free tincture. With just pure CBD isolate, you can experience the purest effects of CBD and leave out what isn’t necessary for you.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

An austronaut floats through outer space, except outer space is filled with cannabis.

@pufcreativ

This is going to look like a lot of words on a page if you’ve never tried different types of cannabis products. We hope this guide helps you decide which might be the most appropriate for you, but don’t be afraid to experiment and find out for yourself which one feels best. You might find that you don’t like the side effects of psychoactive cannabis, or you might discover that it helps you combat that ailment of yours.

Which types of cannabis products have you tried? Which one worked best and what did you use it for? Tell us your story about the spectrums in the comments. 

You’ve likely come across the word “terpenes” before, and if you’ve been browsing the My Supply Co. store you’ll have noticed that we share which terpenes are in our smokeables and vapables. Terpenes aren’t exclusive to cannabis, but cannabis has a lot of them! They are the aromatic, volatile compounds that give many plants their distinct aroma.

Cannabis has a characteristic smell like no other plant, which is the result of the combination of terpenes present in any given bud. It’s estimated that there are around 120 different terpene compounds that the cannabis plant produces, although many of them are only produced in trace amounts.

Terpenes also have an interesting chemical relationship with cannabinoids. In the biological cascade of events that produces cannabinoids, terpenes are used as the building blocks. In this way, they are also essential to the development of cannabinoids.

Like we mentioned, terpenes are found in a huge variety of plants and most of us smell them in everyday cooking and juicing. In this article, we’re having a look at some of the common terpenes found in cannabis, what they do, and whether they serve any purpose in the therapeutic effects of cannabis. 

A little world of terpenes.

Spoons displayed full of colourful and aromatic herbs.

Terpenes are a group of aromatic hydrocarbons that can be further broken down into monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, diterpenes etc. Their categorization depends on the number of isoprene units it carries, where a monoterpene is made of two isoprene units. A sesquiterpene contains three linked isoprene units, diterpenes four, and so on. 

There are thousands of different terpenes out there in the world, and as we mentioned, over 100 in cannabis.

What makes these little guys funky is that they form the building blocks of cannabinoids. In the biochemical process of making cannabinoids, the cannabis plant itself actually uses terpenes. The cannabinoid is also known as a terpenophenolic compound, which means “terpene with a phenol group”.

It’s why often when cannabis enthusiasts talk about cannabis, they also talk about terpenes. The different combination of terpenes and their concentrations is what enables you to distinguish between a bag of Sour Lemon OG and Pink Kush using only your sense of smell. 

Terpenes, cannabinoids, and the entourage effect

Hand and flower collage showing the entourage effect

Only recently have terpenes piqued scientific interest in how they might contribute to the therapeutic effects of cannabis. Dr. Ethan Russo has a particular interest in the subject, where he talks about the synergy of cannabinoids and terpenes being fundamental to the therapeutic properties of cannabis. In his research, he gives special attention to terpenes that might produce synergy with respect to pain, inflammation, addiction, anxiety, epilepsy, and more. 

When researchers began to dabble in the pharmacokinetics of how CBD might counteract some of the psychoactive effects of THC, the torch all of a sudden shone very brightly on the concept of the entourage effect. Here we have an example of how CBD and THC might work together to create an altogether third effect that isn’t quite CBD and isn’t quite THC

The entourage effect is basically what we’ve just said, but the amalgamation of hundreds of compounds. Given that terpene concentration in cannabis are usually as high as cannabinoid concentrations, the final “entourage” is extremely complex. The fact that different strains of cannabis have been tested and demonstrated wildly different terpene profiles is also a testament to the fact that there is real variability between strains and their effects. 

Which terpenes can be found in cannabis?

With over 120 different terpenes found in cannabis, there aren’t enough words in this article to go through all of them. However, the most abundant terpenes found in cannabis are d-limonene, α-pinene, β-caryophyllene, myrcene, and humulene. We’ll have a look at some of these terpenes in a little more detail.

D-limonene.

D-limonene is the citrus smell that comes out of your Sour Lemon OG bag or packs the punch in your Super Lemon Haze Vape Cart. D-limonene (as a component of citrus essential oils) is traditionally used in aromatherapy to energize and awaken.

In alternative medicine, d-limonene has been shown to reduce heartburn and gastric reflux.

Α-pinene.

The pinenes (α-pinene and β-pinene) are among the most abundant terpenes on the planet. They can be produced from turpentine, which is distilled from coniferous wood. They’re also found in plants like Sage, Eucalyptus, and anywhere you can imagine smelling that piney scent. 

The pinenes have primarily been researched for their antifungal and antibacterial properties

Î’-caryophyllene.

Î’-caryophyllene is the interesting terpene that’s also a cannabinoid. It has a spicy scent and is also found in black pepper. Most of the research around β-caryophyllene is in murine models, and has demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity. We wrote a whole article about this terpene, so check it out if you’re curious to know more. 

Myrcene.

Myrcene is the most abundant terpene found in cannabis — in some strains, it makes up to 60% of the essential oil content. It’s thought that myrcene may lower resistance to the blood brain barrier and therefore potentiate the effects of cannabinoids when they’re used. This is what’s behind the rumour that eating a couple of mangoes a couple of hours before getting high makes you get higher.

But more pertinently, myrcene has been shown to increase transdermal absorption and is analgesic, which makes it a great therapeutic target for topical formulas.

Humulene.

Humulene is a terpene also found in hops — which is an ancestor of the cannabis plant! Hops are added to beer preparations to give them the “hoppy flavour” that beer drinkers love. This is a result of the humulene in hops. It has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity in murine models, although little research has been done otherwise.  

Bringing it all together.

A man and woman roll a cannabis joint

WIth the entourage effect in mind, it’s important to remember that the effects of any one given terpene don’t necessarily define the effect of a strain of cannabis. The medicinal effects of a given terpene are an aspect of cannabis’ overall therapeutic effects, as the combination of all of them is what’s finally received by the user.

It’s what makes cannabis so complex and so rich — at least from a research perspective.

Have you ever used isolated terpenes? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.

My Supply Co. is presenting to you our Seed To Smoke Series — a series of articles about the entire life cycle of cannabis. We’re going on a journey from all the potential encapsulated in a cannabis seed to the final product that ends up in dispensaries, in your joint, and moving through your veins.

The Seed To Smoke series covers:

The life cycle of cannabis is wonderfully complex and intricate. It’s one of just a handful of dioecious plants in the world (dioecious; adjective; (of a plant or invertebrate animal) having the male and female reproductive organs in separate individuals). And to think that the entire life cycle of a cannabis plant happens in 4 – 6 months!

This is our final article in the Seed to Smoke Series, and we’re talking about harvesting the cannabis plant and the many processing techniques that take place after harvest. It’s the final step between cannabis cultivation and the product that reaches the end user. 

The “beyond harvest” stage of cannabis product manufacture is what has created the potential for the many different cannabis products available to us. Just a couple of decades ago, the concept of single cannabinoid medicines or isolates was unfathomable. Now, we have the technology to create a plethora of different cannabis products.

How and when cannabis is harvested.

A man handles cannabis plants ready for harvest

There are a number of different indicators as to when cannabis is ready to be harvested. As the primary use for cannabis after harvest is the collection of cannabinoids, the ideal time to harvest is when cannabinoids reach their maximum concentration.

There’s only a small window of time when this is ideal, and it varies from strain to strain. Trichomes are the final thing to develop on a cannabis plant, and they are also where the majority of cannabinoids are stored. Growers wait for the colour of trichomes to indicate that they have reached their maximum THC capacity. 

If a grower waits too long to harvest, or harvests outside of this small time frame, cannabinoid content is compromised. Too early in the piece and the cannabinoids haven’t finished properly forming. Too late in the piece and the cannabinoids have begun to degrade and the cannabis plant is preparing to die into the winter.

Some growers cut the cannabis plant in branches to prepare for drying. Others pull the entire thing out with roots and all. The harvest method will also largely depend on what cannabis is being used for. For example, for hemp textile manufacturers, the stems (which contain the fibrous part of the plant) are the most valuable and shouldn’t be destroyed during harvest.

The drying and curing process.

Cannabis is laid out for drying and curing

If you’ve ever purchased cannabis flowers from a dispensary, you’ll notice they aren’t “fresh”. It’s because they’ve been dried and cured. The drying and curing process is so fundamental to the quality of cannabis that an entire harvest can be destroyed in this process.

If you’ve ever held cannabis that feels damp and looks mouldy, or cannabis that has become so dry it simply crumbles between your fingers, it’s a sign that something went awry in the drying and curing process.

Drying, as the name suggests, is simply about hanging the plants in an environment of balanced humidity to shed some of their moisture. Curing is a process of slowly letting moisture out while retaining a little bit to maintain the perfect balance of moisture in a dried bud. This is typically done in glass jars, where the cannabis flowers are allowed to “sweat” a little bit. The jar can then be opened to allow some of that moisture out, and then closed again to “sweat” again.

The curing process can take months to years. Some enthusiast growers will allow their cannabis to cure for over a year to achieve the perfect, smokeable bud. This obviously isn’t practical for commercial purposes, and so the curing process is carried out in a few months.

The world of cannabis processing.

Unless you’re buying dried flowers from a dispensary, every other cannabis product has undergone some kind of processing. Whether it’s tincture, vape juice, edibles, or topicals, some form of cannabis extraction is required.

There are many different ways to extract cannabinoids these days, and the technology continues to get more and more impressive. Just a few years ago, the primary extraction technique for cannabis was using a highly volatile, flammable gas called butane. It’s a dangerous process and there’s controversy over whether any of the solvent remains in the extract.

Since then, there are now many different distillation processes and solvent extraction processes used in the cannabis industry that are far superior to butane extraction. CO2 extraction is one such solvent extraction, where carbon dioxide is the solvent. It’s neither flammable nor toxic, and is, therefore, an appropriate solvent to use for cannabis. CO2 extraction creates a full-spectrum extract.

To further process cannabis into single cannabinoids, a process called fractional distillation takes place. This is how we can separate the compounds within a single specimen of cannabis. The product can be THC distillate, CBD distillate, THC isolate, CBD isolate, and even isolated terpenes. Fractional distillation uses the different boiling points of each compound to accurately separate the different “fractions” of a sample.

A plethora of different cannabis products.

A variety of cannabis products

Once a cannabis extract exists, it can be formulated into almost any kind of product. It can be used as an ingredient in making edibles, it can be mixed into oil to create a tincture, or it can be used to make vape juice. Extracts can also be used as an ingredient for topical formulations.

The extract itself is much more versatile in the world of product manufacture than dry flowers. For example, you can’t make vape juice at home with your favourite cannabis buds. But you can make vape juice at home with THC isolate or CBD isolate. 

In this way, cannabis processing has opened up an entire universe of different cannabis products for people to use. This has made cannabis more accessible to a bigger variety of people. Those who don’t like the taste of cannabis or its psychoactive effects — or even those who simply hate smoking, can still enjoy the therapeutic benefits cannabis has to offer. 

That is a win for the cannabis industry.

We hope you enjoyed coming on a journey with us through the entire life cycle of the cannabis plant, from seed to your endocannabinoid system. A lot of work goes into the cannabis industry and into the products that you finally get to enjoy. Have you ever grown cannabis before? What did you do or make with your cannabis products? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Have you ever wondered what makes one strain of cannabis different to the next? Somehow, different strains of cannabis have a different “character” — just like the budtender will tell you, this one will make you bounce off the walls but that one will put you straight on the couch with a bag of snacks in hand. 

The proposed hypothesis for this phenomenon is the entourage effect.

If you’re imagining Turtle, Chase, Ari Gold, and Johnny Drama, you’re not far off the entire concept of the entourage effect, although we’re definitely not talking about the television sitcom.  But it wouldn’t be Entourage if there was only Johnny Drama, would it? That’s the crux of the entourage effect.

The concept that the effects of cannabis aren’t caused by THC, but rather by the synergistic activity of all the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds in cannabis, was coined by Dr. Ben-Shabat in 1998. Although he wasn’t specifically talking about cannabis, he was pointing out something like an entourage effect that happens in the body’s own endocannabinoid system.

Since then, the entourage effect has received a notable amount of commentary and research, with Dr. Ethan Russo leading the research and enquiry. It’s become fundamental to our understanding of cannabis and the best ways to use it for therapeutic purposes.

What is the entourage effect?

Male and female ballet dancers creating synergy

The entourage effect is essentially the concept that cannabis’ effects are not caused by a single compound (such as THC), but are instead the result of a team effort by all of the compounds present in a single specimen of cannabis. This explains why different strains can make you feel completely different things, even though they are the exact same plant.

In practical terms, it means that the terpenes, flavonoids, and minor cannabinoids contribute to the effects just as much as THC or CBD do. If you’ve ever tried a cannabinoid isolate such as THC isolate, you might notice intoxicating effects, but those intoxicating effects might have no “character”. 

Every single cannabis specimen has a unique composition of botanical compounds including cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids. This is the nature of botanical medicines, and as Dr. Ben-Shabat and Dr. Raphael Mechoulam pointed out in a 1999 study, this is why botanical medicines are superior to their isolated components

Examples of the entourage effect.

One of the most obvious examples of the entourage effect is the activity between THC and CBD. It’s well documented that CBD reduces the psychoactive effects of THC, and overall the inclusion of CBD in THC products creates a more balanced cannabis experience. For example, strains with high CBD content are less likely to cause paranoia or other negative effects of THC.

This of course becomes tremendously more complex when we consider that a specimen of cannabis contains more than just two cannabinoids. There are over 400 chemical constituents in cannabis, all of which interact to create the cannabis experience users finally get.

Why is it so difficult to research and pinpoint the entourage effect?

man looking through binoculars 1 | My Supply Co.

You could say that, on a scientific level, we only really started to understand cannabis once we took it apart and understood what it was made of. Without knowing that cannabis contains cannabinoids, we would have never known how those cannabinoids interact with the human body.

Logically, the next step after that was to study individual cannabinoids and their different effects in the human body. And that’s pretty much what scientists have been doing for the better part of the last 20 years. 

A lot of cannabis research is controversial because:

  1. When we study cannabis in its whole form (flower or full-spectrum extract), we get a certain subset of study results
  2. When we study isolated cannabinoids, we get a different subset of study results
  3. Those results are sometimes contradictory (think about the entourage effect and how that might change the results between whole cannabis product and single cannabinoid therapeutics)

Now, we want you to think about what happens when we put all of the parts of cannabis back together and try to understand it. We know that THC has x actions, and CBD has x actions, but when we put it all back together, we actually observe x, y, and z. But we have no idea which component is causing which result.

That is why studying the entourage effect is so difficult.

But why is that important?

Well, the medical world talks a specific language. In terms of medical science, it really isn’t enough just to know that a certain plant has an effect. It is increasingly important to understand how and why it does certain things in the body. Without that data, the pharmaceutical industry has a very hard time manufacturing medicines.

Holism versus reductionism.

A child peeks through a hole in the wall

Everybody who studies medicine, especially those who study natural medicine, is confronted with the concepts of holism and reductionism. Holism is a philosophical school of thought that accepts all parts of a whole are in an intimate relationship with each other, and therefore shouldn’t be separated. Reductionism is a way of studying things by breaking it down into its constituent parts to understand its nature.

Holism is what’s often practised in herbal medicine whereas reductionism is the primary medical model, and definitely the one used by pharmaceutical industries. One of the reasons that the pharmaceutical industry is having a really hard time harnessing the potential of cannabis is because the best way to consume it is in its whole form, straight out of the ground. 

The entourage effect is at the essence of holism. And when you really think about, nature has spent millions of years evolving into the complex picture we see in front of ourselves in the forest. Cannabis is no different. There’s absolutely no way for humans to replicate that kind of complexity in therapeutics or in any other circumstance. 

Is one better than the other?

It’s hard to answer that question. When you have an infection and you just need something that kills the infection, then a reductionist philosophy could be helpful. But when you’ve got a chronic health condition with a lot of “seemingly” unrelated symptoms, holism has a role to play. 

Holism also helps us understand herbal medicines in ways that reductionism simply cannot. At the same time, reductionism also helps us understand herbal medicines in a way holism cannot. The cannabis industry has embraced both sides of the coin, understanding that some people prefer a full-spectrum product that encourages the entourage effect. But the industry also offers isolated cannabinoids and single-cannabinoid medicines for those who don’t feel the need to consume a whole range of compounds. 

Let us know in the comments the experiences you’ve had with whole cannabis products versus single cannabinoid therapeutics. We’d love to hear from you!

CBD is arguably the most trending thing in the 21st century. The legalization of cannabis swept the world and throughout that process, the technology of cannabis product manufacture has advanced exponentially. One of the outcomes of that technology was the ability to isolate cannabinoids  — and that’s how we got CBD-only and THC-only therapeutics.

Before this quantum leap in the cannabis world, cannabis was plain and simply, cannabis. There was very little interest in the myriad cannabinoids, terpenes, and other biologically active compounds in the cannabis plant. Now that we are discovering those compounds might have therapeutic properties, it’s become one of the fastest growing bodies of research ever.

But there’s a lot of hype about CBD.

How much of it is just hype and how much of it is true? It’s a question on so many people’s lips and the answer isn’t all that complicated when we break it down. Just like every other drug on the planet, there are certain health conditions for which CBD seems to work extremely well, and others for which it doesn’t have a pronounced effect.

Harvard professors seem to feel the same. Let’s have a look at what they think about the hottest cannabinoid on the market.

Not a panacea, but a therapeutic for certain conditions.

There is a mountain of evidence supporting the use of CBD in a multitude of different conditions, but that doesn’t make it a panacea. For example, even though CBD is anti-inflammatory, it’s not the recommended drug for a stomach ulcer or pancreatitis. 

According to Harvard professor, Dr. Levy, the greatest “benefit [he] has seen as a physician is in treating sleep disorders, anxiety, and pain.” Appropriately, there has been a lot of research on the use of CBD for insomnia, anxiety, and chronic pain. These are also the most common reasons for people to self-medicate with cannabis.

As we know, CBD is also hugely on the radar as a treatment for epilepsy. In fact, there already exists a CBD-based, FDA approved epilepsy drug called Epidiolex. 

As well as this, CBD is being investigated for its potential in treating other treatment-resistant conditions such as fibromyalgia, IBS, and migraines.

Separating CBD’s qualities from its affinities.

A hand moves puzzle pieces to conceptualize relationships and affinities

Just because CBD is anti-inflammatory, doesn’t mean that every single inflammatory condition can be treated with CBD. For example, CBD might be able to reduce inflammation and pain in arthritis, but it will probably have zero effect on inflammation caused by a localized infection or conjunctivitis.

While CBD has the quality of being anti-inflammatory, it doesn’t have an affinity for every single organ in the body. CBD doesn’t even have much of an affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors, as we now know, which means that we have to look at it differently to THC. It also means that to understand where and how it might be used, we have to look at where it goes once it gets into the body.

Now, all of that is a lot of really complicated scientific language about receptors and what not. For the purpose of this article, it’s not all that important. In our blog, we talk about the different ways CBD and THC work in different medical conditions and we go into much greater detail.

For the purpose of this article, it’s important to understand the difference between a quality and an affinity. In another example, we can look at Milk Thistle, a common herb used in herbal medicine. It has the quality of being an appetite stimulant, but it does this through an affinity for the liver. It doesn’t exert this effect through brain chemistry, for example (which is what THC does). It exerts this effect by targeting the liver. 

A quality is the effect it’s likely to have, and the affinity is where it’s most likely to take place.

Why all the controversy?

A man holds fake news newspaper to conceptualize controversy

There’s no doubt that all the controversy into the effectiveness of cannabis stems from the fact that for the 100 years prior to legalization, cannabis got nothing but bad press. But we also have to acknowledge something fundamental about the study of plants that is very different to the study of drugs.

As part of my studies in herbal medicine, I was required to study Western drug pharmacology. In pharmacology, a drug has one or a number of active ingredients. The drug is designed to target a specific receptor or kind of cell in the body, and it carries out its processes.

In herbal medicine, a plant has at least a dozen pharmacologically active compounds. So which one should we study? And how should we know if the compounds interact with each other once they get into the body? There are many more complexities in studying herbal medicine, which is also often why there’s inconsistencies between study results. Another thing that creates complexity when studying CBD, cannabis, or other herbal medicines is that the preparation (such as dose, extraction form, quality of the herb, its phytochemical profile, etc.) varies greatly between studies. At this stage, nobody really knows what the ideal dose of CBD is for a certain condition — when studies are being designed, it’s mostly guesswork.

If studying pharmacology of Western drugs is kind of like following a recipe, studying herbal medicine is kind of like doing a sudoku puzzle. In pharmacology, a drug is designed to have a specific effect. In herbal medicine, we’re looking for what specific effects a whole multitude of compounds might have.

Medicinal CBD is just that — medicinal. And in medicine, doctors don’t just throw around prescriptions. If you’ve got cardiovascular problems, you probably don’t need to be taking cancer medication. It’s the same for CBD. It can be used for many wonderful things, including just to stay healthy. But taking CBD thinking it’s going to cure every disease you have is naive and a complete misinterpretation of the entire concept of medicinal cannabis.

Stay up to date with our blog for in-depth articles about the research surrounding CBD and other cannabinoids with respect to certain health conditions. 

What have you used CBD for? Did it work? We’d love to hear from you in the comments! 

It seems like we’re discovering new cannabinoids everyday — and that’s because we are. Scientific research into cannabis has opened the proverbial can of worms, and we often find ourselves discovering things about cannabis we would never have even guessed. Not that long ago, we published an article about tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) and how it talks to our endocannabinoid systems. Today we’re going a little more in depth.

More and more research is emerging about how THCV can be applied in the context of medical cannabis. Obesity, diabetes, chronic inflammation and chronic pain are among some of the medical conditions and symptoms THCV is showing promise for. 

Most of us associate cannabis with an increased appetite. It’s a good herb for those wasting away due to cancer and its related therapies. But THCV is different. 

THCV might actually reduce the appetite and offer a potential cannabis-based treatment for obesity.

THCV is a little bit of an anomaly in the world of cannabinoids. That’s why it’s so interesting and worth checking out how it works in some of the Western world’s hardest to manage diseases.

THCV, diabetes, and insulin resistance.

A person with gloves administering insulin for diabetes

There’s a lot of exciting research going on about THCV’s role in Type 2 Diabetes, sometimes referred to as “insulin resistance”. To put things in context, there are two kinds of diabetes: the first, you’re born with (Type 1), while the second (Type 2) is acquired. Acquired insulin resistance can happen because of lifestyle factors, but genetics can also play a role. To give you an idea of how much a problem Type 2 Diabetes is in Canada, about 3 million people have it. That’s 8.1% of the population. To give you an idea of the worldwide problem, up to 1 in 11 people worldwide have Type 2 Diabetes.

We’re talking about something pretty serious here.

The reason Type 2 Diabetes is so hard to treat is because it takes a long time to happen. Insulin resistance happens very slowly as a response to consistently high blood sugar levels. Eventually, cells lose sensitivity to insulin and don’t let glucose inside the cell. This can eventually lead to a dysfunction in the way the pancreas produces insulin, as it essentially gets tired from constantly producing high levels of insulin. 

The complications of diabetes are serious. Consistently elevated blood-glucose levels can lead to nerve damage, blindness, cardiovascular disease, kidney damage and skin problems. Plus, without sugar entering cells, cells don’t have any energy to carry out cellular processes.

In a 2020 study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, researchers found that THCV enhanced glycaemic control and up-regulated energy metabolism. More specifically, THCV use showed reduced fasting plasma glucose levels compared to the control group. In another study, researchers showed in murine studies that THCV increased insulin sensitivity.

It looks as though the underlying mechanisms of action of THCV are multifaceted when it comes to Type 2 Diabetes. The upregulation of energy metabolism, reduced fasting glucose levels, and increase in insulin sensitivity of cells are all factors that might make THCV interesting in the treatment of diabetes.

Research into THCV and obesity.

An obese woman sits on the couch with her dog reading a book

As you might guess, type 2 diabetes and obesity are highly correlated. Diabetes UK estimates that obesity counts for about 80-85% of the risk factor of developing Type 2 Diabetes. In developing countries this is a huge problem as the prevalence of obesity continues to rise.

Poor diet and lifestyle factors are the most highly implicated factors in the development of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. Excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, and sedentary lifestyle are all factors which may contribute to the development of these diseases. And as we know, nobody is born with Type 2 Diabetes, and very few children are born with obesity. These tend to be developmental problems that occur as a result of lifestyle factors, although genetics may interplay.

So what role does THCV have to play?

As we mentioned earlier, THCV might actually be an appetite suppressant. But before we get into some of this super sciency, very enlightening research, we have to talk about some of the physiological things we observe in obesity other than abdominal fat.

For example, in this research, researchers identified functional brain activity changes in women with obesity. This is important because the part of the brain this functional activity seems to affect is the reward system, which we know is highly implicated in obesity. 

Arguably the most exciting research we’ve found on cannabis ever is this:

In 2016, researchers set off to investigate how THCV affects the brain parts that are interconnected with the development of obesity, such as what we just mentioned. Researchers found that after administration of THCV, there was a decrease in the resting functional state of the default mode network, and an increase in functional connectivity in the brain control network. Both of these findings are consistent with THCV’s potential as a treatment for obesity. 

THCV has also been shown to be an appetite suppressant, but it’s not known what functions are at play to produce that effect. This research may be one of the ways that THCV suppresses appetite,  but we won’t know that for some time.

Don’t forget about the entourage effect.

Entourage effect is much like an orchestra working together

We’re always excited to bring to you the latest cannabinoid research. But we also never want you to forget the importance of the entourage effect.

Sometimes in cannabis research, we take the cannabinoid out of cannabis and it doesn’t seem to have the same clinical effects as when the plant is administered in its whole form. This is because we don’t know to what degree cannabinoids exert their effects with the help of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and compounds in cannabis. That’s to say — how much of it was done by one cannabinoid and how much of it was a team effort?

It’s something that makes it extremely difficult to study isolated cannabinoids. At the same time, we have to study isolated cannabinoids so that we know what they’re all about. 

THCV is like a finger on a hand. If you remove all the fingers, it’s not really a hand anymore and the hands can’t do their job. This shows the potency of the entourage effect and why you should always consider the entourage effect when reading cannabis research.

Strains high in THCV.

The good news is that THCV isn’t psychoactive like its cousin, THC. It can therefore be considered by those who don’t like the intoxicating effects of cannabis as is the case for those who prefer to use CBD. Here are a couple of the strains in the My Supply Co. pantry that are consistently high in THCV and worth checking out if you’re interested in this wonderful cannabinoid.

From the pantry

Girl Scout Cookies Vape Cart

As well as having high THC and CBN contents, Girl Scout Cookies also has higher than normal THCV levels. Euphoria and relaxation ensue after puffing on the Girl Scout Cookies Vape Cart, so get on it to feel the effects of THCV.

Durban Poison

So far as we know, Durban Poison contains the highest THCV content than any other strain of cannabis. This energetic sativa gets people on their feet and ready to tackle whatever the day has in store. Check it out for a hit of THCV.

Have you tried strains in THCV? How did they affect you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

My Supply Co. is presenting to you our Seed To Smoke Series — a series of articles about the entire life cycle of cannabis. We’re going on a journey from all the potential encapsulated in a cannabis seed to the final product that ends up in dispensaries, in your joint, and moving through your veins.

The Seed To Smoke series covers:

The life cycle of cannabis is wonderfully complex and intricate. It’s one of just a handful of dioecious plants in the world (dioecious; adjective; (of a plant or invertebrate animal) having the male and female reproductive organs in separate individuals). And to think that the entire life cycle of a cannabis plant happens in 4 – 6 months!

In the last article, we talked about vegetation, which is when most of the growing happens. It’s also when growers typically apply their growing techniques. In today’s article, we’re talking about the flowering period and why the night-time is so important to photosynthesis.

Let’s get straight in.

Photosynthesis and the importance of night-time for the flowering stage.

Flowers photosynthesizing during the night-time

In our previous article on vegetation, we talked a little bit about what happens during the light phase of photosynthesis. Chlorophyll does some crazy cool, kind of alien transformation of light and water and carbon dioxide into the energy the plant needs to make sugar. 

In the wild, cannabis plants begin to flower after the winter solstice, which is also when the number of hours of sunlight begins to slowly decrease and the nights get longer. This period represents the onset of winter. As an annual flowering plant, cannabis responds to this by flowering or producing pollen sacks, cross pollinating with other plants and then producing seeds. The seeds lay dormant in the soil until enough warmth and water is in the soil — which is spring the following season!

Knowing that an increase in darkness triggers flowering is how indoor growers trick their plants and force them to start flowering. It also means that something is changing in the plants biochemistry as the night-time hours begin to dominate.

Let’s have a look at them.

In the previous chapter, we mentioned that chloroplasts (specialised cells within the cannabis leaf) convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into chemical energy. That chemical energy is a compound called ATP — known in biology as cellular energy.

During the dark hours of a 24-hour period, plant cells use the chemical energy created during the daytime to produce glucose. This happens through a cascade of chemical reactions called the Calvin Cycle (it’s a lot of scientific jargon that we don’t need to get into for the purpose of this article). 

Once glucose has been produced, it is used by cells in a number of other chemical reaction cascades to produce lipids, carbohydrates, and a lot of the stuff we end up consuming as plant eaters. Essentially, these are the products that make up plant tissue. This includes starch, which can actually be transported and converted into cellulose (which is another very complex series of events).

THC and other cannabinoids arrive on the scene

A close up of a cannabis flower

Flowering is when cannabis plants begin to produce THC, CBD, and all the terpenes that make cannabis a plant that humans love. It becomes extremely aromatic during the flowering phase. And obviously, this is when the buds that will finally be consumed develop. 

The length of time a cannabis plant spends flowering differs between varieties. Growth also happens during flowering, and the amount of it also depends on the strain being grown. However, the reason that growers spend time training their plants during vegetation is to train the plant in such a way that when flowering kicks in, all of the plant’s energy can be converted into producing flowers.

Growers do this because flowers are what contain the commercially viable part of the plant — cannabinoids and terpenes. This stage of growth is fundamental to commercial cannabis growers. If something goes wrong during flowering, the entire cannabinoid profile can be disrupted.

Don’t pick flowers at night time — they’re sleeping!

If you’ve ever been slapped on the wrist for picking flowers at night time, this article is why! Cannabis plants, just like humans, never really switch off. Even when you’re sleeping, your brain-computer is actually finalizing all of those calculations and sorting everything out. A lot of work is happening, but it’s the integration.

It’s the same with plants at night time!

Even though they are hard at work converting chemical energy into glucose and other compounds, they’re actually sleeping. They’re integrating all of the energy that was consumed during the day into something real and practical that can be used by the plant. 

We’re finishing off this series with one more article about what happens beyond flowering and harvest. Stick around to see the rest of the journey through the cannabis life cycle from seed to harvest. 

My Supply Co. is presenting to you our Seed To Smoke Series — a series of articles about the entire life cycle of cannabis. We’re going on a journey from all the potential encapsulated in a cannabis seed to the final product that ends up in dispensaries, in your joint, and moving through your veins.

The Seed To Smoke series covers:

The life cycle of cannabis is wonderfully complex and intricate. It’s one of just a handful of dioecious plants in the world (dioecious; adjective; (of a plant or invertebrate animal) having the male and female reproductive organs in separate individuals). And to think that the entire life cycle of a cannabis plant happens in 4 – 6 months!

In the last article, we described the germination process of a seed and its journey into becoming a wee little seedling. In this article, we’re talking about vegetation and growth. It’s when the cannabis plant does most of its growing, and typically when growers take advantage of growing techniques. 

The importance of photosynthesis and photoperiod for vegetating cannabis plants

A close up of a leaf displaying veins and water droplets, a photosynthesis concept

Some growers believe that a cannabis plant is finished being a seedling when it shows its first set of true cannabis leaves. These are the palmate, fingered leaves characteristic of cannabis. In any case, vegetation starts when the plant has enough leaves to really start photosynthesizing. This is when most plant growth will occur.

Photosynthesis is how plants turn sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into sugars for their growth and development. Certain anatomical parts of the leaf called chloroplasts are fundamental to photosynthesis, which is why most of it occurs during vegetation. 

There are really two parts to photosynthesis: there’s what happens during the light phase and there’s what happens during the dark phase. Every plant needs time to sleep, or darkness, and it’s just as important to growth as sunlight is. 

Cannabis is an annual flowering plant. That means it flowers once right before the winter comes, and disperses its seeds to wait for the following spring. It’s important to think about what happens seasonally during this process. The beginning of the cannabis life cycle enjoys deliciously warm, summer weather. But as winter approaches, it’s not just the weather that changes. It’s also the amount of sunlight. This is especially true if you live in the far north or far south of the globe, where the photoperiod changes dramatically throughout the year. In the winter, there are fewer sunlight hours than the summer. 

That logically means that during vegetation, the light phase is extremely important, as that’s what there is more of. The next stage of life – the flowering phase – spends more time in darkness. So we’re going to talk a bit about what happens in the light phase, and we’ll talk more about the dark phase in the next article about Flowering and Night-time.

Photosynthesis – the light phase.

An indoor cannabis farm under lights

As we just mentioned, vegetating cannabis plants spend a lot of time under sunlight. If they’re grown indoors, growers will typically put them under 18 hours of light (6 hours of darkness) and sometimes even 24 hours of light (0 hours of darkness).

Within a cell of a cannabis leaf, there are a number of very important structures. Arguably the most important is the chloroplast, which contains chlorophylls and proteins called PSI and PSII. Solar energy is absorbed into the leaf through the proteins and is then transferred to the chlorophylls.

Chlorophylls are what begin the cascade of chemical reactions that convert solar energy into chemical energy. Other factors are included in the process such as carbon dioxide and water. Water is absorbed through the roots of the plant, whereas carbon dioxide enters through the leaves. The final product is glucose.

Glucose is used by plants as a form of energy, but also helps to make up some of the plant’s tissue such as cellulose or starch. A lot of this glucose is what humans finally end up consuming from vegetables! 

Vegetation is when growers employ growing techniques

Because of the abundance of photosynthesis that occurs during vegetation, it’s also when the most growing occurs. For that reason, growers who use growing techniques such as supercropping or lollipopping will do so during the vegetative stage, and before flowering starts. 

Growing techniques are certain methods that cultivators use to manipulate cannabis plants into growing the way they want them to. Some techniques make better use of grow space, others maximise the number of locations where a plant will produce buds, etc.

A plant will vegetate for anywhere between 2 and 8 weeks, depending on the kind of seed and the variety. How tall it will grow also depends on the variety and the growing conditions. The vegetative stage is essential to preparing the plant for flowering. If vegetative growth is unsuccessful, the ability for the plant to produce an abundance of flowers is dramatically decreased.

In our next article, we’ll be talking about Flowering and Night-time, so don’t forget to check in!

Have you ever grown cannabis? How much did your plant grow during vegetation? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!