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Dutch Passion Special offer!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 11:49:24 Europe/London

White Widow Special Offer from Dutch Passion!



Dutch Passion have announced their first 2017 Special Offer.  Buy any pack of White Widow or AutoWhite Widow and get double the normal number of seeds absolutely free.  You can buy as many packs as you wish, and you will get twice as many seeds as you paid for.  If you buy a 3-pack you will get 6 seeds.  Pay for a 10-pack and you will receive 20 seeds

It’s a generous offer from the Dutch Passion team on one of their top selling THC-rich genetic lines. The offer runs during March and April 2017 for all orders placed on the Dutch Passion website.  Additionally, many seed retailers will run this offer online and in high-street seed stores. Customers are advised to check if their existing retailer is participating in the offer.

Posted in Cannabis News

Three ways to make your grow too greener with Sensi Seeds

Monday, 13 February 2017 11:14:30 Europe/London

Three Ways To Make Your Growroom Greener

How do you make your growroom more eco-friendly? Something that is often a cause for concern among many fans of cannabis – perhaps because we tend to be more conscious of the importance of plants and the beauty of the planet we live on – is the environmental impact of indoor growing. Here Sensi Seeds presents three tips for creating a greener growroom.

Have you ever thought about the carbon footprint of the cannabis you’re consuming? Apparently, "a single [lamp grown] cannabis cigarette... is equal to running a 100-watt light bulb for 25 hours of average US electricity." It might seem a daunting task to reduce the environmental impact of your grow, when frankly there are so many other factors to worry about, but by implementing a few changes you can make a significant difference.

Lighting – switch to LEDs to lower heat emissions and electricity use

The discussion about whether HPS (High Pressure Sodium) lights can be surpassed by LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights has been ongoing since the introduction of the latter onto the market as viable room lighting. There is still vigorous support for both types of lighting among cannabis growers. Many online platforms, including the Sensi Seeds forums,  host passionate debates on which is best  in terms of yield and quality. It is true that LEDs did not exactly take the cannabis world by storm when they first became available, with lack of standardization, and prices that were out of reach for most home growers. This is no longer the case. The most recent impartial report  (The carbon footprint of indoor Cannabis production by Evan Mills, 2011, which also provided the statistic above) concludes that HPS results can be matched by the most top of the range LEDs. These do still require a bigger financial investment than either HPS or cheaper LEDs. In terms of energy consumption, however, they are certainly more efficient. This makes them cheaper for the grower in the long run, and better for the planet as soon as you turn them on.

Lower electricity usage and lower heat output

The other major environmental benefit of LEDs is the far lower amount of heat that they produce. This makes them less of a contributing factor to climate change both directly and indirectly, since extractor fans to control growroom temperature are unnecessary – a further saving on electricity consumption (and an added bonus for avoiding heat detection sensors). In addition, they last a lot longer than HPS bulbs, and do not require ballasts and reflectors, so overall fewer materials go into their use and less waste is generated. Both LEDs and HPS lights (also CFLs) can and should be recycled. Most shops that sell these bulbs will also accept old ones for recycling if you return the old ones when you buy a new one. There is also a company called Recolight which provides collection points for bulbs, with a handy page on their website for locating the nearest point to you: http://www.recolight.co.uk/. Of course, you may find it more useful to locate a point further away from you if you wish to err on the side of caution!

2 Substrates – go coco, avoid peat and clay beads

Mineral wool, also known as stonewool and more commonly as rockwool after one of its manufacturers, has been a favourite of indoor growers for years. It does have undeniable practical advantages. It’s lighter than soil, easy to obtain and work with, plus it comes in those handy pre-formed cubes. Some claim it is a natural material, since it is modelled on Pele’s Hair. This mythical-sounding substance is formed when volcanoes erupt (Pele is a volcano-dwelling Hawaiian fire goddess) and tiny droplets of molten basaltic glass elongate and solidify into long, fine, hair-like strands. In order to recreate this, a blend of chalk and rock is heated to around 1600 degrees centigrade and then has air or steam blasted through it. This is an extremely energy-intensive process which uses non-renewable components; both factors to be avoided if you’re concerned about climate change and environmental welfare.

Reusable substrates have to be practical, or no-one will re-use them

Theoretically, rockwool can be reused. In practice, this writer has never met a cannabis grower who actually does this. The roots of cannabis, whether seedling, clone, or mother plant, run deep and strong and fine. The same qualities that make hemp ideal for aerating and improving soil cause cannabis to bond almost inextricably with rockwool. Algae and mould often grow on top of it, and must be completely eliminated it if it to be re-used. Removing all old root matter and thoroughly cleaning a substrate that is brittle, prickly and irritating to the skin is, understandably, too labour-intensive for all but the most dedicated of growers. Used rockwool tends to end up in landfills, on dumps and even at the side of roads, where – since it is basically candyfloss made of rock – it won’t biodegrade.

So what are the alternatives? Plain old soil is obviously the simplest environmentally friendly substrate. Disposing of it is also far more low-profile, as it can be simply ploughed back into your garden if you’ve got one, or spread around any handy public green area if you haven’t. It’s easy to re-use for subsequent grows. It should be thoroughly flushed (but of course you should be doing that anyway!) and clumps of roots should be broken up and evenly mixed through to avoid ‘hot spots’ of decomposition.  You may need to add some extra nutrients but as the roots will release valuable nutrition back into the soil as they decompose, you are making the most of your previous crop rather than having to separate it out.

Coconut coir and hemp grow-mats

Coconut fibre, also known as coco coir, is an excellent substitute for those who want the convenience of rockwool in a natural form. It is produced from mature coconuts (so the rest of the coconut gets used too!) by separating the long, tough fibres from the hard inner shell. Coir intended for gardening is generally pre-treated by being soaked in a calcium buffering solution since it is high in sodium and potassium, so all you usually need to do to prepare it is soak it in water, rinse it well and fluff it out.

Not only does coir beat rockwool in terms of its production carbon footprint, it is a lot easier to re-use. As usual, it should be thoroughly flushed for the last few weeks before harvesting. The main root ball separates from the coir quite easily (some growers prefer to let it dry out a bit first) and the very fine roots can be left in there. There are plenty of reports of coir being re-used for as many as six grows. Not only that, but the subsequent grows often perform better than the first one as the coir becomes ‘seasoned’. Environmentally, the only real downside of coir is how far it has to travel from the coconut palms to your local garden centre.

If only there was a coir equivalent that could be produced more locally! Well, there is, and it should be obvious to all of you. Hemp fibre has the same strong, lightweight and water-retaining properties, grows much faster than coconuts, and is outstanding as a sustainable resource. Thus far, needle-punched hemp fibre mats are producing excellent results for microgreens such as cress. A large amount of Europe’s cress supplies are grown on hemp mats from Sensi Seeds’ sister company HempFlax. The much larger root systems of cannabis require bigger, deeper mats, and thus far it has not caught on as a substrate for cultivating it, but it shows a great amount of promise. As use and production of hemp increases, expect to see more of one plant helping to grow another!

Clay pellets – not as innocent as they look

The other substrate commonly used by cannabis growers that should be eliminated from your ‘greener’ growroom is Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate, more commonly known as clay beads, hydro beads, clay pellets etc. Although at first glance they may seem like a natural product, and can potentially be re-used many times, their manufacture is by no means environmentally friendly. They are produced using a non-renewable resource, namely clay. This is strip-mined from countryside, destroying trees, wild land and the natural habitats of many species. Then it is heated to temperatures of around 1100 – 1200 degrees centigrade in giant rotating kilns; as with the manufacture of rockwool, this is an incredibly energy-intensive process that produces tons of heat.

So what can you use instead, since clay beads are a pretty indispensable component of most cultivation styles, from soil to hydro to just the beads themselves? The best substitute seems to be Growstones. Growstones are manufactured using glass taken from the New Mexico landfill site where the processing plant is based (to save on transportation, so at least there’s a small offset there). They are 98% recycled glass which is fired in a kiln at around 860 degrees centigrade, for less than an hour. Full disclosure – I was unable to discover how long clay pellets are in the kiln for (even though I read two chapters of Advanced Concrete Technology, not a book I can recommend unless you’re really, really into concrete) but since the pellets also have to be pre-warmed slowly to about 650 degrees centigrade so that they don’t explode before becoming pyroplastic, it is most likely a lot longer than an hour.

This brand-name product is manufactured in the US, which is a downside since it has to travel a long way, but it is pretty much the only downside. In all other respects, they equal or outperform clay pellets, and should be used and treated in the same way.

Leave it in the ground, for peat’s sake

Finally, stop using peat pellets. Although they are very handy for planting newly-germinated seeds, and are a natural and biodegradable product, they are not a sustainable resource. It takes literally thousands of years for organic matter to decompose into peat, and the exact set of circumstances needed for this to happen are pretty rare. In addition, peat bogs are the most efficient carbon sink ecosystem on the planet, and it takes centuries for them to recover from disturbance. We really shouldn’t be digging them up just to make little discs that do something which – let’s face it – half a toilet roll tube full of potting soil will do just as well. 

3. Grow autoflowering strains

For a lot of you, this might be the easiest change to make since it doesn’t require radical changes to your set-up, or a lot of investment. By switching to autoflowering strains such as Sensi Seeds Skunk #1 Automatic or White Label Northern Lights Automatic, you will automatically use fewer resources (see what I did there?).  The shorter overall grow time means less watering, less electricity, and less effort; the shorter vegetation period means you can switch to a 12/12 lighting cycle in a couple of weeks, rather than months. The smaller size of the plants means less substrates, and relative to their size, many modern autoflowering strains can produce highly satisfying and worthwhile yields. Nowadays there is a wide selection of autoflowering varieties to choose from, so pretty much every taste and budget is catered for.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step

So, don’t feel overwhelmed by needing new equipment or having to learn new techniques. The best ecologically sound solutions for growers often require only replacing one medium with another. In the suggestions outlined above, the replacement – LED for HPS, coir for rockwool, growstones for clay pellets – will behave in much the same way. It is important to begin with small steps, because as individuals, these are often the only ones that we can take. But every step makes a difference. 

Words and pictures from Sensi Seeds

First published in Weed World Magazine edition 126

Buy seeds from our online store!

Posted in Cannabis News

AutoNight Queen from Dutch Passion

Monday, 13 February 2017 10:50:54 Europe/London

AutoNight Queen.  Dutch Passion Auto Kush wins Highlife 2016 cup.

 

Dutch Passions 1st Prize in the 2016 Highlife Cup with AutoNight Queen confirms what a lot of auto growers already knew, autos are just as good as photoperiod varieties for quality-focussed home growers.  

AutoNight Queen grows from seed to harvest in 70 days, she is usually grown indoors under 20 hours of daily light, and the original Afghani Kush genetics produce the same potency as a top quality traditional variety.    Autos really have become an easy way for the home grower to produce their own championship quality cannabis no matter how small there budget and grow space.  One unusual feature of the indica AutoNight Queen is the very low plant hight, its an ideal variety for anyone with limited grow space and restricted vertical hight in their growing area.  

As any experienced indica grower will tell you, size really is not everything.  Some of the best indica genetic lines produce small, bushy plants.  These genetics may not overgrow your indoor tent in the same way that a leggy sativa can, but if you are growing exclusively for quality then sometimes its difficult to beat a proven indica prizewinner.  Often these purebred indica genetics will deliver some of the most dense and compact buds, the best genetic lines will combine that with a knockout body stone and a shimmering coating of sticky trichomes.  

What makes the purebred gene bank indica Afghan genetics interesting for auto breeding is the instant compatibility they show for it.  In the early days of auto breeding it was not always easy to ensure the potency of auto varieties.  But in the last 10 years the best seed companies have learned the necessary breeding disciplines required to optimise both potency and yield from autoflowering varieties.  Interestingly for Dutch Passion, it was the Afghan Kush genetics that really hit the spot quickly when we were looking to create a hard-hitting indica auto.  

Indica varieties from ‘Northern Lights’ genes have also been tried.  But so far at least, its the Afghan Kush genetics which have really exceeded expectations when it has come to sheer potency of Indica dominant autos.  Some people suggest this is due to an inherent natural geographical compatibility/proximity between the Hindu Kush genetics and the Ruderalis origins of autoflowering varieties.  But whatever the reasons, its reassuring for auto growers that some of their preferred varieties are now routinely outscoring traditional photoperiod varieties in blind smoke trials.  

Feedback from the cannabis home growing community has thrown up some fascinating observations for those seed companies that are still interested in surveying their customer opinions.  Its fascinating to see how attitudes to self-sufficient cannabis growing have evolved over the last few years.  One of the main reasons people give for growing autos is the simplicity and lack of growing experience required to get great results.  You don't even have to adjust the light cycle to 12/12 to induce the change to plant hormones that initiate blooming.  With autos the whole process of growth, development and bloom is automatically taken care of by the plant.  All you do is germinate the seed and add water.  Dutch Passion, and the other premium seed companies, have seen first time growers achieve spectacular results with feminized auto seeds.  To most home growers the simplification that autos bring has been a welcome relief. And to novice growers auto seeds have been an unbelievably simply path into the world of home grown.

One of the single biggest benefits brought by autos is the emergence of the perpetual auto indoor grow tent.  This is simply a tent on a permanent light cycle of 20 hours of daily light followed by 4 hours of darkness.  A typical auto will start to show female pre-flowers around 3-4 weeks after germination on a 20/4 cycle.  And plants are usually ready to harvest in 10-11 weeks.  Many people add a new seed to their grow tent every 2-3 weeks, and harvest a mature cannabis plant at the same time.  Because autos grow independently of the light cycle you can have small, medium and mature plants all in the same tent on the same light cycle.  Thats a major advantage over traditional photoperiod varieties which require separate tents (with different light regimes in each) in order to have plants at different veg and bloom stages of their development.  

And with short, bushy indica autos such as AutoNight Queen you can get a 100g++ harvest from a short plant which will often stay at 50-75cm or less.   This means you can confidently grow in small waist-hight closets and tents, and still get top-notch cannabis at the end.  Autos make it possible to grow cannabis in new ways, and smaller places, than ever before.  Even if you have no experience at all.

Autos are a hit with outdoor growers too.  Many people plant a couple of auto varieties outdoors when the night time minimum temperatures start to reach/exceed 10ºC.  For some growers in Mediterranean climates that can mean 3 successive outdoor auto crops each year.  And for growers in cooler climates, such as Northern Europe it will mean plants going outdoors in May/June and harvesting around August.  Remember that autos are easier to hide than traditional 3m+ photoperiod varieties.  Autos will often stay smaller than traditional varieties outdoors, making them easier to grow behind your tomatoes and garden plants.  

Greenhouses are also a great place to grow autos, by protecting your cannabis plants from the worst of the early and late season weather you can get more crops and bigger harvests.  

However you choose to grow your autos its reassuring to know that the genetics are now right up there with the best performing traditional cannabis genetics.  And with plenty of research going into further genetic improvements you can be confident that the future is only getting brighter for fans of autoflowering cannabis varieties.  

 Words and pictures by Tony from Dutch Passion Seeds
First published in Weed World Magazine edition 124

Buy seeds from our online store!

Posted in Cannabis News

Crystal Candy from Sweet Seeds Breeders Report

Friday, 10 February 2017 15:53:09 Europe/London

Crystal Candy - Finally turning your grow area into a classy candy shop

Some of us growers still remember how special it was to visit a candy shop when we were kids. The colours, the aromas and that inevitable mouth watering sensation produced by our brain while imagining how happy our taste buds would be just a few minutes later, always led to big smiles. I got me with that same silly smile on my face when I rubbed my fingers in some flowers of Crystal Candy (Sweet Seeds variety SWS58) that were in the final stage of flowering. I was really happy while my nose was filled with that glorious fragrance of sugary sweetness, but this time the candy shop was mine. Only mine. Courtesy of Sweet Seeds.

My small candy shop was big enough to allow for nine 11 litre pots on its area of 80 x 80cm and 160cm of height, so I sprouted ten seeds in case one would not make it. In the case that they all make it I would then select the best nine and discard the worst looking one. Eight of the ten seeds sprouted in less than 48 hours and the other two sprouted 24 hours later. This is the usual time frame for germination of fresh and properly stored Sweet Seeds seeds. They were germinated in a wet paper towel, closed inside an hermetically sealed plastic container that was opened for a few minutes every 12 hours to prevent mould formation around the seed shells.

After germination they were put into a 500ml pot with BioBizz LightMix and 10% of worm humus to contribute with some nitrogen (N) to the mix. They were carefully placed about 0,5cm below surface. 36 hours later they started to show their cotyledons and photosynthesis started. They were watered with only 100ml of water in the first week and in the second week the amount of water was raised to 200ml, in order to make all of the 500ml of soil wet. Since the first days they grew with a vigour that was visible to the naked eye. But this vigour was even more noticeable after the second week.

At day 15 from germination they were transplanted to their final pots. These 11 litre containers were then filled with BioBizz AllMix, an extra 10% of perlite and one full tablespoon of Guanokalong powder for each plant. The powdery guano was mixed in the lower layer of soil so that the roots only reach to it when they most need it, which is when they are already flowering. Since AllMix is a strong soil mix, very rich with respect to the most important nutrients for our plants, I knew I would not need to use liquid fertilizers for a long time. So, from then on, I only watered the plants with pH 6,2 ordinary tap water every 2 or 3 days.

They grew as real champions, developing firm side branches and stretching the main cola to around 70cm of height when they reached to the third week of flowering. Oh, and the plant that was discarded was also looking great, so it was taken to an outdoor garden from a friend and maybe one day I will share some pics of the plant with you readers. Crystal Candy was recently released (it reached the market in the spring of 2016) but already conquered my admiration and  it is already positively surprising a lot of growers that have some of these wonderful plants in late flowering as I write this article.

Sweet Seeds has been on the market since 2005, so in the last 11 years we have been working with some of the best elite clones in the cannabic scene while continuously improving our breeding procedures. We would not release a strain named Crystal Candy if the trichomes were not a terpene trait of authentic sweetness themselves. All of them. And that is something that starts to become noticeable at a very early stage, by the end of the third week of flowering. The first flowers start to crowd all together giving form to marvellous buds that start to cover themselves with shiny trichomes. So, at this point the plants start giving us a clue about how their final aroma will be.

These shiny trichomes spread into the surrounding areas of the flowers, making all the small leaves around the buds look very frosty. Even the big fan leaves feature an admirable gleam on their stem and near-to-stem areas. They look like lollipops and they smell exactly like it if you break some of them to release their sugary terpenes. This organoleptic complexity becomes clearly noticeable especially in the third stage of flowering, so we will return to that later.

At this point the nine Crystal Candy plants were flowering for 5 weeks and I kept on licking my fingers every time I touched them, just as an inveterate sugar addict. The plants seemed to finally ask for some extra nutrients at this stage. I knew that harvest was still 3 or 4 weeks away so I decided to feed them twice with BioBloom from BioBizz, one dose of 4ml per litre of water at day 36 into flowering (5 weeks) and a second dose of 2ml at day 43 (6 weeks). By the 6th week the structure of the plants was completely defined and with my grow parameters I managed to get at least 4 side branches with a good calibre from each one of them. All the side branches produce flowers that are very compact and resinous.

This grow closet (aka candy shop), with an area of 0,64m2, asks for a 400w High Pressure Sodium lamp, so I used one. On the other hand, the 400w High Pressure Sodium bulb asks for professional range extraction. In this case I used a 125mm RVK extractor, more than enough to keep a constant renovation of the air inside the growing area. I also got 2 Sunon fans blowing air into the top buds area and 1 other Sunon blowing air directly to the bulb to dissipate the heat and drive it to the top of the closet where the RVK tube is extracting the air.

This kind of air renovation and air circulation, together with the fact that High Pressure Sodium lighting tends to lower the humidity levels inside the closet, helped not only to avoid heat stress but also to raise the frequency of the “wet-dry-wet” cycle on the soil. The soil will dry much faster and the plants get to be watered more frequently, benefiting from a dry soil (due to increased oxygen intake) for a few hours every 2 days. So, it is very important to water abundantly, until water comes out of the drainage holes, but then it is even more important to let the soil dry almost completely before watering again.

With about 6 weeks of flowering the pistils started to show the first signs of maturity, turning to a light orange colour. At the same time the aromas became much more noticeable, featuring a sweet and fruity background with tones of chewing gum and fruit jellies, mixed with hints of acid strawberry and mature melon. A strong smell that fills the room. The taste is also amazing, a truly sweet organoleptic experience. Crystal Candy is a big producer of aromatic resin crystals that completely cover the flowers and their surrounding leaves with a very high density of long, large-headed trichomes.

In the last 2 weeks of flowering I only used water so that any trace of fertilizer eventually present in the soil could be cleaned and washed away. All the plants matured at the same time and when they reached to their 9th week of flowering more than 30% of the trichomes were already amber coloured and it was harvest time. They were harvested with 64 days of flowering, when they were already showing some yellow leaves, a proof that the roots were well cleaned from nutrients. And in the harvest day, when I emptied the containers, I also observed how the roots filled all the available space inside the 11 litre pots, a clear sign that the plants were happy and healthy while growing and flowering.

The nine plants produced a total of 340 grams of high grade, dried and manicured flowers, making it a 0,85gr per watt grow operation. Or, for some who might prefer to judge it like this, a 531gr per square meter grow. A very interesting result taking in consideration the outstanding quality of the final product. Hard, compact buds that drop a cloud of trichomes into the air when we brake them. They were dried for 12 days, then cured for 3 weeks and the smoke+vape report was performed with 50 days of ageing in crystal jars.

This superior quality strain from the Sweet Seeds genetic collection is a hybrid slightly leaning to the indica side (60% Indica / 40% Sativa). It features a very well balanced effect that brings about relaxation, calms the mind and spirit but leaves the user with enough energy and motivation to perform physical activities. The effect can even be creative sometimes and tasks that are usually boring can be taken in a very enjoyable way, converting work into play.

It was a long journey but it was worth the wait. After more than a decade dedicated to find, select and improve sweet and aromatic genetics, we can say that Sweet Seeds finally reached to the apogee of sweetness with Crystal Candy. Sometime in the past a kid said: “One day these candies inside the crystal jars will make me happy” ...and I have to agree he was right. That day is now.

Words by Tommy G.

Pictures by Tommy G. and Sweet Seeds

First published in Weed World Magazine edition 124

Buy seeds from our online store!

Posted in Cannabis News

The Dimensions of Ripeness

Friday, 10 February 2017 15:38:52 Europe/London

The Dimensions of Ripeness Part 1

I have been collecting resin most of my life and, with the retrospect that age is bringing, I can clearly see the different levels of consciousness and knowledge I have experienced in my relation with the Cannabis plant and its resin. The dimensions of ripeness is my latest finding and possibly the most defining aspect of resin quality.

I was a young passionate lover of cannabis, who wanted to know all the facets of this incredible gift from nature that was the essence of secrecy and myths, coming from the most remote places of North Africa, Central Asia and the Himalayas; today, after a lifetime of travels and dedicated studies, I am considered by some a master in my own right while I actually cannot answer the most basic and most important question there is for a Hashishin:

What makes resin quality?

I have worked alongside Hashishins in the producing regions of the world and shared their lives with no more credentials than a love for excellence, a passion for Cannabis resin and no further goal than making the highest quality Hashish from season to season.

The passion and knowledge of these families, masters of the trade for countless generations, is vast, and was shared without restraint. The learning was an unconscious but natural absorption of a methodology rooted in pure awareness with no scientific or sometimes even logical rationalization.

There are basic natural and obvious characteristics of the resin that dictate methodology and quality, dry sieving for example has to be done in the winter since cold and dry conditions facilitate the processing, and oppositely pressing requires warm conditions. There is also a less apparent procedure, like curing resin three to nine months on the plants before sieving, which is a fundamental factor in the overall quality of the resin, but not the determining element.

I had never truly thought of the question in depth until recently. Outside the fundamental understanding that a healthy plant at the peak of its flowering cycle is optimum to resin quality I had certainly not sought the source of quality.

 I had solely sought perfection in resin ripeness while hand-rubbing Charas in India and Nepal. The maturity of the trichome heads is quite apparent when caressing live flowers to collect resin; it is sticky and smelly when ripe and your senses bear witness to the fact.

My experience in Hashish producing countries on the other hand had mostly been with dried and cured material, as tradition demands, and I had never thought truly of the reasons behind the different resin qualities at the time. The different grades that are dictated by the different levels of resin cleanliness were the key factors of quality in my eyes then.

As all craftsmen, the quality of my work is entirely defined by the knowledge of the material I work with and the tools I use; I had a deep knowledge and a number of years of experience with various sieving methodologies but I knew next to nothing about the biological processes of the material I was collecting, the trichome and the resin within.

Hashishins have the privilege to work with the most amazing compounds crafted by Mother Nature, the Cannabis resin; eighty plus cannabinoid compounds created by the bounding of the two most common molecules found in the plant kingdom, terpenes and phenols. A process so complex that Nature’s secret behind this transformation has yet to be fully understood.

As much as the knowledge of the secretory development of cannabinoids in the resin heads is vital to my quest in understanding the mystery of resin quality, my whole approach was changed by a simple fact of nature unknown but one that I had experienced every time I touched a dry Cannabis plant: mature resin heads fall at the slightest touch.

A resin head is made by nature like a fruit or a leaf, and as such falls at the end of its life cycle. Or to put it in scientific terms: “An abscission zone develops at the base of the head where the stipe cells attach to the disc cells resulting in abscission of glands upon attaining maturity”

This simple piece of evidence was a revelation! Judging ripeness while harvesting fruits from a tree is not too complex, a first light shake of the tree will bring down the ripest fruits, a second shake a little harder will bring fruits that are slightly less ripe and so on until the tree is bare.

My ice-water sieving technique is an adaptation of dry sieving methodology, as well as a maximization of the characteristics of a sieve. The most basic principle of sieving is that the harder you shake the more product falls through the perforations of the sieve. Therefore, I had unconsciously collected different levels of ripeness all my life but had been focusing only on the cleanliness of the resin, an inherent necessity to sieving dry material that breaks into fine particles at the gentlest touch.

The preservation of the resin purity is not such a concern with the ice water sieving process; re-humidified leaf material that has regained all its flexibility can be shaken thoroughly without breaking apart. I agitate my material within a vortex of water that applies a constant force, and so the strength of my “shaking the tree” is defined in fact by the length of my washing cycle, as for many things in life timing is primordial to success or quality in our case. 

I wash one batch of material an average of eight to twelve times. My first wash is hardly longer than a minute. The following washes are a minute or two longer than the precedent and, as such, each wash shakes a different level or dimension of ripeness from the leaf matter, from the ripest to the less mature resin heads.

The resin collected in those washes varies in color from a dark amber to a milky color, the first wash holds the ripest resin and always has a darker shade of amber which, washes after washes, lightens to a creamy golden colored resin.  

As with all fruits there is what we could call a color scale of ripeness, each color exemplifies a dimension of the maturation of the resin, an easy approach to judging and selecting ripeness.

The resin we collect is the bibliography of the plant’s life, the Book of the Hashishin.  

There is plateau of maturity that defines quality within the dimensions of ripeness; the geography, the climate, the genetics and the knowledge of the grower dictate this.

The window of optimum development of the resin is relatively small. While the formation of the trichomes start early in the life of the Cannabis plant, like the fruit nature designed it to be, initially, it has a slow growth ending with a swift ripening.

A cannabis plant harvested one or two weeks early will produce flowers showing high level of cannabinoids, however the collected trichomes will hold very little resin and will be impossible to press into Hashish or even hard press into resin sometimes.

On the other end of the spectrum, a plant harvested too late will produce a concentrate of lower quality in the first one to three washes; it will show a fair amount of resin when pressing but the degradation caused by over ripeness is apparent when compared to the following washes.

Between these two extremes, a different plateau of quality is found, and in the middle stands perfection, the full resin development in every dimensions of ripeness which can only be produced by a plant brought to the peak of its flowering cycle. The resin may not offer the same melt as the ripest trichomes but to the last wash the resin will have formed fully and will press beautifully.

What is happening during these final two weeks of resin development that is so central to quality?

That is a question that I will strive to answer in Part 2 of the Dimensions of Ripeness.

Words and pictures by Frenchy Cannoli
First published in Weed World Magazine edition 123
Posted in Cannabis News

Dutch Kush from Paradise Seeds Breeders Report

Friday, 10 February 2017 15:21:20 Europe/London

Everyone loves a new twist on an old classic and Paradise Seeds has released a strain which does exactly that! Dutch Kush is a super heavy hitting indica that combines awesome genetics from two continents to produce a Kush with enhanced super powers! 

The excellence of the Paradise Seeds genetics are recognized by experienced growers around the world who appreciate the high germination rates of seeds and the stability of the plants they produce. The Amsterdam based seed company has been in the business for 21 years and has a history of being an innovator on the cannabis scene. It has 30 strains in its product range and has won a truck load of cups and awards over the years.

The power of the Paradise Seeds brand can be seen in one of the world’s biggest legal medical cannabis plantations, which was recently harvested in Chile by the Daya Foundation, a non-profit organization. The legal grow’s 6,500 plants have been grown from 15 Paradise Seeds strains and are expected to bring a harvest of 2,000 kilos.

Dutch Kush: The Word from Paradise

This is a cannabis plant for couch lock surfers and medical users seeking ultimate relaxation - a powerful and relaxing indica that grows big and finishes quick.

The popularity of the Kush has seen many varieties come to the market. However, as our customers appreciate, Paradise Seeds do not rush into things! We have taken our time to develop our twist on the Kush, which combines this classic cannabis landrace with Afghan power and the potent special powers of Dutch genetics.

The result is a plant that comes with all the force you would expect from two, resin rich, land races famed for their hash producing qualities. Into this mix we have added a genetic accelerator, bringing the grower a cannabis seed that achieves rapid growth and a quick finish harvest after 8 – 9 weeks.

Growers will notice the distinctive growth of these plants. They are characterized by multi branches with exceptional calyx development – growing on the stem with little space between them to produce full sized and very compact colas. Once in flower, the aroma really bursts through, strong and pungent and a reminder to check the carbon filters.

This plant is short and bushy and easy to manage. It is good for growing in an indoor setup and the cola development makes this plant well suited to alternative grow techniques such as SOG and SCROG (Sea of Green and Screen of Green). The buds it produces are super dense and the resin content is super high, with the result that a bad case of sticky fingers is waiting for the end user!

In an outdoor setup, this plant will also thrive. The big bud yield and nugget density means that Dutch Kush loves the warmth and the sun that dominates in southern regions, although the quick finish will also offer some guarantee of great results in more northern regions of Europe, the USA, Canada and parts of Russia.

Once dried the flavor really flows with the taste of earthy caramel and coffee bouquet with undertones of citrus and sweet skunk. The effect is a swift lift off with an increased sensory awareness, particularly in the audio and visual departments. Soon after, a mighty indica veil descends over the user, submerging the body into a state of deep and wonderfully euphoric relaxation.

Dutch Kush has fantastic medical qualities too. It is a great antidote to insomnia and stress and is also an excellent choice for medical patients who are looking for a natural treatment to manage pain and bring relief.

Our early test results and trial grows have resulted in very favorable reports, so we are very much looking forward to the feedback of new Dutch Kush growers out there. We wish you a very happy season in the garden – indoor or outdoor – from Team Paradise!

Words and pictures from Paradise Seeds

First published in Weed World Magazine edition 123

Buy seeds from our online store!

Posted in Cannabis News

Sweet Seeds Blow Mind Auto - Grow Report!

Friday, 10 February 2017 15:05:05 Europe/London

Blow Mind Auto, a trip through the Sweet Seeds’ labyrinths.

I’m very glad to tell about my experience with Blow Mind Auto (Sweet Seeds variety SWS57) with all the readers of Weed World magazine by sharing this grow report. When 2016 started I already had nine seeds germinated from this strain that was recently released into the market by this great seedbank specialized in top quality feminized and autoflowering seeds.

In 2015 I was lucky enough to grow Cream Mandarine XL Auto (SWS55) with amazing results, obtaining plants that yielded more than 130 gr. of high quality dried flowers. Outstanding taste and effect. I’m sure this strain will also be a big champion due to the genetics used as parentals. S.A.D. Sweet Afgani Delicious Auto® (SWS24) contributes with a slightly more homogenous and stable structure to the other strain used in the cross, the Amnesia Haze, “Cordobesa” clone. The taste, effect and growth pattern of this plant totally surprised me as it is absolutely equal to the best plants from feminized or regular seeds that I tried before.

Now I’m going to tell you with a bit more detail about growing this magnificent and beautiful plant in which I fell in love with.

Nine and a half weeks

For growing this variety the chosen soil was Kilomix from Atami, which contains enough food for one month. Then I used BioCanna nutrients in every moment as the plants demanded it and realized that Blow Mind Auto is definitely a plant that needs a lot of food. All the plants were grown in Airpot containers with manual watering and without adjusting the pH from the nutritional solution.

For lighting I used a 400W Metal Halid lamp for the first 10 days, changing it then to a 600W HPS after the 11th day which was used from then until harvest.

The ventilation and extraction worked 24 hours per day, everyday. To control the temperature I used a heater with thermostat so that the temperature never went down under 17ºC when the lights were off, because they were grown in the winter.

One of the most important steps, as you might well know, is the germination of our seeds, because we expect to germinate 100% of them as we payed an amount that ensures us that they are fresh and that they will deliver a good final quality. In my case I always use the same method with outstanding guarantees of success and, except when the seeds are extremely old or badly stored, the germination occurs in 100% of the cases.

It is very simple. I fill a glass of rested water, then drip a bit of hydrogen peroxide and finally I drop the seeds (they should float in the water). Later I put the glass on a warm place, always making sure that the temperature does not go above 22ºC. I also like to use the package of the seeds to cover the glass, helping to preserve as most humidity as possible. I keep it closed for 24 hours and, after that, I uncover it to check how the seeds are doing. Although it is also easy to check if the seeds have sprouted by simply looking through the glass.

If at this point they still don’t show signs of germination, I change the water to avoid mold problems that could affect the seeds. All the seeds sprouted in less than 48 hours and then I planted them in Jiffys, previously soaked in warm rested water.

At this same moment I usually put the Jiffy inside a small pot with a bit of soil, so that the plant can wait for at least one week before it is passed to its final pot. In this case I used three 20 L. pots and six 10 L. pots.

In the first week we should pay constant attention to the plants to make sure that they don’t dehydrate. I kept a daily watering routine with the nine plants under a 400W MH light. They were under this light until I transplanted them at day 8, when they were taken to the flowering room with a 600W HPS light and their final pots.

Setting the ventilators to a moderated speed and then pointing them directly towards the plants was also very important as it helped the plants to grow strong since the beginning and not stretchy at all, as it happens in many cases. To avoid this, as you might well know, it is advisable to use an adequate light that was not used too many times before and to add a continuous air flow to it. This invites the plant to develop more cellulose and consequently a stronger structure and main stem. With this, the plants will also need more water so you should pay close attention to it.

At this stage all the Blow Mind Autoplants developed almost equally, with great vigour and a lot of health. Still no need to feed them with liquid fertilizers until this moment because the rich soil was still enough to satisfy the plants’ needs.

They were transplanted to the big final pots and, at the same time, they were put under the 600W HPS light. It is very important to keep track of that day in your calendar because it may help you to know until which point the plants can get all they need from nutrients present in the soil. If you follow this rule and, for example, the soil that you have bought has nutrients for one month, you can relax because you know that during that first month the plants will be correctly fed. Which does not mean that some plants may not need a bit more feeding and other plants a bit less. But in general cases it is a very good guideline if you use good quality soils.

You can add a biostimulator as long as you do it with moderate doses and only when the plants need it. For example, it is adequate to add root biostimulator during the first 15 days and then keeping with it in low doses until almost the final stage of flowering.

One thing that will help us to get fatter flowers out of our dear plants is adding a flowering biostimulator since the first days of flowering, which usually coincides with their third week of life. In this grow I used BioBoost as flowering stimulator from day 21 to harvest.

At day 31 after the last transplant some plants were already showing signs of nitrogen deficiency, with a yellowish tone in some big older leaves of the lower branches.

In my case there was no need to use any growing fertilizer because when this happened the plants were already almost in their fifth week of life, a moment when fertilizers rich in phosphorus and potassium are more important and necessary for the plant. These fertilizers help the plants to produce a higher quantity of big flowers, while the fertilizers rich in nitrogen tend to accumulate and generate problems in the flower formation.

In this moment almost all the plants are taller than 70 cm. And in some of them I had no alternative but to do a bit of LST in order to lower their height, or else the smaller plants would not receive the same light intensity as the taller ones. Lots of leaves and exuberant production of side branches make it possibly one of the most sativa autoflowering strains that I ever had the pleasure to grow. Something that is very noticeable since early stages of growth of this amazing genetic from the Sweet Seeds collection.

Between the fifth and the seventh week I used a bit of organic bloom fertilizer, in this case it was Bioflores once every two times I watered the plants. All the plants responded well and none of them showed signs of overfertilization.

At this point we are at the moment when the plant starts to show all its potential, finishing the vegetative stage but at the same time fattening up and maturing its flowers. The shape of the flowers is clearly characteristic of sativa strains, with a long appearance and tremendously covered with aromatic resin that invades the room with floral, citric and very scented aromas. Also at this stage, we can see that all the pistils are still white and no mature pistils can be found. But what is more interesting to see is how all the leaves that surround the flowers are totally covered with trichomes!

In this moment it was easy to appreciate that two plants stopped growing to focus their energies in fattening up their flowers. These were placed exactly under the lamp because otherwise the other plants that were still growing could partially block the light.

Now I’m using the maximum dosage of flowering fertilizer, the flower biostimulator and half dose of root biostimulator. This helps me to compensate the acidity of the nutrient solution and to keep the roots in optimal conditions.

Using Cannazym once a week for a while, also helped the plants to correctly use all the nutrients that they were given, because it helps a lot when it comes to keep a clean and biologically active soil.

As Blow Mind Auto® produces a lot of side branches, it is advisable to cut the two or four lower branches that will not grow tall enough and where light can never reach. Like this the plant can avoid spending energy on these sites and use it instead in the flowers from the top, while keeping the grow cleaner and better ventilated.

The temperature was stable for almost the whole cycle, never going above 25ºC and never going under 17ºC. This, together with the dryness produced by the Airpots, forced me to water the plants once every two days in the moments of maximum necessity.

When we were about to reach to the 7th week, the height of the plants was of 1 metre approximately. The plants are totally developed with multiple branches and trichome filled flowers. The trichomes are milky, starting to turn transparent in some higher parts of the plants.

I didn’t wanted to abuse from the liquid fertilizer, so after the 7th week I stopped using Bioflores, keeping only with BioBoost and half dose of Rhizotonic. The buds already show a considerable size and it is in these last weeks that this beautiful strain explodes. Literally.

If you are patient, leaving nature to follow its path, when getting into the 8th week you can start washing the soil. With this, the plant will consume all its own reserves and the taste will not be altered by chemical residues that were not clean from the soil.

All the plants matured equally at the same timing and by the 9th week I started to harvest some of them. The yield is amazing but what most calls to my attention is the appearance and the smell of this marvellous autoflowering from Sweet Seeds. I will have to wait for a while until I can taste these precious buds in their maximum splendour, because I usually cure them for around 3 months, but I could not resist to try a flower to make a small smoke report and share with you J

After crushing the bud to pieces the traditional touch of potent high quality cannabis becomes noticeable, with a citric hint, a sour touch, something spicy but sweet... definitely a work for sommeliers with a delicate sense of smell!

In the mouth it features a very complex Haze taste, intense, special, ... exquisite! The effect is very creative, clear, social and brings about laughs, making Blow Mind Auto® an ideal strain for afternoons with friends or for these days when you can allow yourself to be... scatterbrain ;)

I hope you enjoy this autoflowering as much as I do.

Thanks for reading, Sweet Smokes!

Words and pictures by Jaypp at Sweet Seeds
First published in Weed World Magazine edition 123

Posted in Cannabis News

The simple joys of growing cannabis

Friday, 10 February 2017 14:47:20 Europe/London

The Simple Joys of Growing Cannabis 

If you've never grown cannabis, your missing out on one of the truly fun, divine, simple pleasures life has to offer.  With a little knowledge, time and tender loving care, you will be rewarded with the simple joys of growing cannabis. 

Whether growing for recreational or medical reasons, it's important for your health to know how your plant was grown, and what it contains. 

Sadly, most people on this planet do not currently have access to laboratory testing of the cannabis they consume. This needs to change.  Until that day comes, the only way to guarantee the quality of the cannabis you consume is to have first hand knowledge of how it was grown.

www.SCLabs.com is a premiere testing facility in California with lots of interesting information on cannabis and testing.  SC Labs tests for pesticides, microbiological contamination, cannabinoids and terpene potency profiles, and residual solvents (chemicals used in extracting cannabinoids). 

The City of Palm Springs, California, requires all cannabis sold by dispensaries to be extensively tested to ensure safe public access.

 

Selecting Seed Genetics

As a novice grower, the first question you should ask yourself is what goals you wish to achieve by "growing your own"?  Thanks to the efforts of many breeders, you have a host of seed options.  Take time to research and choose carefully what genetics you will grow for your first attempt. Remember: you'll be spending your valuable time and efforts, so choose carefully.  

The most (or least) expensive genetics are not necessarily the best match for your personal goals.  Don't be swayed by marketing hype. Kudos to www.Mandalaseeds.com  attempts to "raise the bar" informing and educating potential buyers of their genetics.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_strains

I prefer to start growing with seeds.  Seeds have tap roots, and little chance of carrying diseases (which can happen with clones obtained from others).  Once these plants are a minimum of two months old, you can then clone (take cuttings) from these plants to increase the number of plants being grown without worry of contamination. It's worth noting that there are a number of methods to germinate seeds. 

Google "choosing cannabis genetics to grow", "germinating cannabis seeds" and "how to clone cannabis" for a wealth of further information on the topics.  I personally prefer liquid rooting concentrate when cloning plants.  I've had good success using   www.dipngrow.com

Indoor, outdoor, greenhouse?

Growing indoors requires expertise and expense beyond what a first time grower should normally attempt. However, with outdoor growing you are subject to the elements (weather, insects, animals, diseases) over which you will have little control. 

Personally, I prefer to grow in greenhouse conditions.  You have more control over the environmental growing conditions without the expense or expertise required of indoor growing.  Plants generally love greenhouses over outdoor conditions. 

Greenhouses need not be expensive.  With a little research, and a few simple "how to" skills, you can easily fabricate an inexpensive greenhouse to suit your personal needs, from simple and compact to something larger or more elaborate.

Google "cheap greenhouses" and "greenhouse plastic film".

Growing in Dirt

All of my personal experience has been growing in dirt, be it in ground or in pots.

There are a wealth of web sites on choosing soil types and determining aeration (supplying oxygen) of soil for growing cannabis.  Google "choosing soil for growing cannabis" and "aeration of pots and soil".

I usually grow in 15 gallon plastic pots that I have drilled numerous 1/8" holes about every inch to aerate the soil and stimulate root growth.  I also drill extra holes in the bottom of the pots.  I place the pots about 2" deep in the soil of the greenhouse floor so the roots can continue to grow beyond the bottoms of the pots. 

Earth worms are one of Mother Nature's wonderful natural means of improving/fertilizing your soil for growing cannabis or any plant.  Introduction of these creatures will only increase your growing success.  Google "earth worms".

Fertilizers

When it comes to man-made fertilizers, my motto is "keep it simple" (and inexpensive).

Cannabis has two basic stages of growth (growing and flowering).  In the vegetative (grow) stage the plants require Nitrogen and in the flowering stage they need Phosphate.

I use Miracle-Gro all purpose plant food during the grow cycle www.miracle-gro.com and Scott's Super Bloom during flowering www.scotts.com

Plants in their flowering stage love sugar.  It's the "secret sauce" to many very expensive fertilizers to increase flowering.  I use Grandma's Molasses mixed with water for this purpose.  http://www.grandmasmolasses.com/

Google "how and when to fertilize cannabis plants", and "how and when to water cannabis plants".

Cannabis Pests and Diseases

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) first coined the phrase "survival of the fittest".  If you grow cannabis, sooner or later your plants will come under attack by animals (including Muffy the cat or your dog Trixy), insects, and diseases. 

Inspecting your plants closely every few days is the best advice I can suggest when it comes to pests and diseases. The quicker you react and take measures to correct the problem, the better off your plants will be. 

Google "cannabis pests and diseases" and "natural neem oil insecticide for pests".

Everyone Starts Out A Beginner

When it comes to developing knowledge, skills, or talents, everyone starts out a beginner.

With some personal effort on your part, you'll be introduced to the simple joys of growing cannabis.

Words and pictures by PJ - Discover of Super CBDx  www.SuperCBDxSeeds.co.uk
First published in Weed World Magazine edition 123

Posted in Cannabis News

Imagine a bright, green future!

Friday, 10 February 2017 14:37:22 Europe/London

Imagine a bright, green future!

Have you ever thought about what the UK could be like if cannabis was fully legalized? I’ll bet you a Henry you have. It doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination, and cannabis users tend to be an imaginative lot. If you’ve visited the Netherlands, especially its coffeeshop epicentre of Amsterdam, it’s virtually impossible not to daydream about what our scepter’d isle could be like if its outdated, indefensible cannabis legislation changed.

In the first few months of this year, we’ve had the disclosures of (the man who hates to be called) Dodgy Dave about his offshore tax shelters, the 150,000 strong anti-austerity demonstration in London in April, and Nick Clegg coming clean about Theresa May’s attempts to delete any scientific data that doesn’t suit her preconceived ideas about drug policy. The reasons for change are mounting by the day. The UK’s drug policy is playing out against a backdrop on the world stage of the UNGASS Special Session on Drugs and the increasing number of places in the US where legalized recreational and/or medicinal use hasn’t caused the fall of civilization. The entire country of Canada will have legal weed in less than a year’s time, and let’s not forget Portugal quietly celebrating 15 years of the decriminalization of all drugs leading to nothing but positive effects.

True, in 1969 marijuana liberation pioneer John Sinclair thought it would all be over by 1972 and the US is still less than halfway there, but it must be admitted that the colonies are doing better than we are right now. Maybe one of the things that keeps us going is the belief that change for the better is just around the corner. So let us daydream together, dear reader, of the changes we might see if the UK decided to go all-out for legalization.

Bedrocan medicinal cannabis

One of the most impactful changes could be the appearance of Bedrocan in pharmacies. Working with exclusive genetics from Sensi Seeds, this Dutch company has, to date, developed six different varieties of medicinal cannabis. The option would exist for doctors to prescribe them, and for patients to obtain them on the NHS. More information would be available for both doctors and patients (imagine a leaflet on cannabis alongside the standard ones on piles, flu jabs and diabetes that hang in waiting rooms!). Too often, medical professionals have to be informed about the benefits of cannabinoids by their patients. A new feature on the Sensi Seeds blog is devoted to providing scientific information to healthcare providers in order to help with this.

People who are already using cannabis to self-medicate are forced to obtain it through illegal means. Making cannabis available in chemist’s, or offering the option for people to safely and legally cultivate their own, would remove the stress and stigma of illegal activities. This alone would benefit countless medicinal users. Being able to secure a consistent product grown under controlled conditions and free from harmful contaminants eliminates the risk of worsening the user’s health. Being able to add cannabis use to a patient’s records, as with any other drug, means that potential negative interactions with other medication can be avoided.

Availability of Sativex

Large-scale cannabis production for medicinal purposes could also replace, supplement, or possibly at least reduce the price of Sativex. According to both clinical trials and anecdotal evidence, Sativex, a cannabis-derived mouth spray with a roughly 1:1 THC to CBD ratio, effectively relieves moderate to severe muscle spasticity and other symptoms in MS sufferers. However, in 2014 the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommended to healthcare professionals that they “do not offer Sativex to treat spasticity in people with MS because it is not a cost-effective treatment.”

Although licenced for use throughout the UK, and being made from cannabis which is actually grown in England, Sativex is only available on prescription in Wales (not a country noted for being the most affluent in the UK!). In the US there have been cases of families relocating to states where medicinal cannabis is legal in order to obtain it for sick family members. It would be tragic if people with MS in the rest of the UK were forced to move to Wales in the same way, just to have relief from pain. It is possible to get Sativex directly from manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals via the internet using a private prescription. However, the cost of this runs to around five hundred pounds a month; too much for most people to afford.

Finally, on the medicinal side, the risk factors of cannabis use could be lessened. For the majority of people these are minor to non-existent. But there are some for whom cannabis could cause health problems. Without the opportunity to speak with a well-informed GP who has access to their medical and family histories, they may be unaware of the risks, and inadvertently worsen their health instead of improving it.

The market for recreational and medicinal cannabis already exists, and it’s huge

Let us also consider the economic effects of a fully legalized and taxed cannabis industry. The market for medicinal and especially recreational cannabis is not one that needs to be created; in terms of supply and demand, the demand already exists. According to a survey by the Guardian newspaper carried out in 2014, an estimated 14 million people in the UK have used cannabis. Of the 13% of the population who would consider using any drug in future, 81% of those would use cannabis. Interestingly, among people who have never used drugs, 4% would consider using them in the future. If drugs were decriminalized, however, this figure jumps to 16%. The Home Office Crime Survey for England and Wales on drug misuse for 2014/15 found that 6.7% of adults aged 16 to 59 had used cannabis in the previous year.

A survey by the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit in 2011 (which was funded by political party for cannabis law reform CLEAR) estimated that the UK gets through more than 1020 tons of cannabis a year. If, as CLEAR proposes, cannabis was sold legally and taxed at a flat rate of £1 per gram with 20% VAT on all sales, this would generate around £2.4 billion in tax revenue per year. Given the above statistics on how many people would consider cannabis as a recreational drug if it was not illegal, it can be safely said that this is a conservative estimate. The view that revenue would not be that high because people would simply grow their own is somewhat naive, given that it continues to be perfectly legal to brew beer and wine at home, yet only a fraction of people actually do this and alcohol sales are barely scratched by it, let alone dented.

Revitalization of communities

Of course, this direct revenue is only a small part of the positive effect that a proper recreational cannabis market could have. It’s impossible not to have noticed the amount of pubs closing across the nation. Between June 2014 and June 2015, they were going at a rate of 29 a week, according to the Campaign for Real Ale. Not as many people miss the access to alcohol – which after all, is freely available and cheaper in shops – as miss the sense of a hub of social connection, a place where communities meet and mingle. The introduction of coffeeshops could not only fill this void, but fill the empty pubs that have caused it. Rather than destroying communities, as cannabis is so often falsely accused of doing, it could actually revitalize them.

Bringing cannabis culture out of the living room

The claim that cannabis causes social isolation in its users results mostly from its illegal status. The ‘living room culture’ that this engenders grows from a fear of being caught if using one’s drug of choice in a public setting. It drastically reduces the potential for meeting new people. It breeds a sense of ‘us and them’ that creates barriers between users and non-users in a way that alcohol and tobacco, with their legal status, do not. Although they are far more harmful, they are not stigmatized in the same way. People who do not use them are unafraid to enter a bar or a tobacconist simply because the drugs are there, and largely unafraid of the people who use them (unless alcohol is being used to excess). This stigma is due to misinformation and propaganda. The legalization of cannabis would enable the reversal of this unfortunate trend. In the Netherlands, where coffeeshops have been commonplace for 40 years, this stigma has been almost completely erased. In any given group of friends, in any age range, it is absolutely normal that some will use cannabis and some will not, and this does not cause fractures in their social structure.

Unbiased, free information

One of the ways in which this reversal of misapprehension could take shape is through unbiased information centres. The Cannabis College in Amsterdam is one such centre. Established in 1997 as a non-profit organization, it provides thousands of people every year - both tourists and locals alike – with free information about cannabis and hemp. By no means is every visitor a cannabis user, since interest in the manifold uses of both types of the plant is on the rise throughout the world. Being in Amsterdam grants the Cannabis College a unique position among drug information centres. There is a small but well-equipped cannabis garden in the basement where visitors can see for themselves how beautiful the plants are when in flower, the equipment needed for cultivation, and how to ensure the electricity is safely dealt with.

This last point is of great importance, since the most dangerous aspect of indoor cultivation is the use of electricity and water together. Obviously, the bigger the grow, the more power points are needed. Many growroom fires are caused by overloading the power supply. If they did not have to be kept so very secret, the option of bringing in a qualified electrician and ensuring that the proper safety regulations are followed would reduce the dangers of fire and electrocution enormously. A Cannabis College in Brighton, London, Leeds, Edinburg, Belfast or any other major city would be of enormous benefit to growers all over the Isles – especially with the same ability to have a growroom on the premises.

The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum

Not only would one or more Cannabis Colleges be a welcome addition to the cannabis-related venues here, but the logical next step would be a UK branch of the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum. The original has been a popular Amsterdam destination since 1985, and in 2012 another branch opened in Barcelona, a city becoming increasingly more tolerant of cannabis and making significant moves towards a form of legalization with the introduction of cannabis clubs.

 

A rich history of cannabis use

The UK actually has a rich and diverse history of cannabis use. Think of the Rolling Stones in court in 1967, and the famous Times editorial titled “Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?” that took the surprising view – for a mainstream newspaper that embodies everything the 60s counterculture was rebelling against – that Jagger and Richards were being unfairly treated, to the discovery of pipes containing cannabis residue dating from Shakespeare’s time practically in the Bard’s back garden, to the unflagging determination of numerous activists who are today fighting for a long-overdue change in legislation that would enable the UK to finally embrace the many benefits of legal, regulated cannabis. More places in the UK celebrated April 20th this year than ever before.

So don’t give up. Keep campaigning, keep growing, keep spreading the information, stay true to your convictions. Maybe in a year’s time, we will be the country that the rest of the world is pointing to as a positive example. We are, after all, a green and pleasant land.

Words and pictures from Sensi Seeds

First published in Weed World Magazine edition 123

Posted in Cannabis News

Women and Ganja in Southern Africa

Friday, 10 February 2017 14:23:09 Europe/London

Women and Ganja in southern Africa

 

During a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956, the women sang a freedom song: "Wathint’ abafazi, Strijdom! wathint’ abafazi,wathint’ imbokodo,uza kufa!"

Translated into English this means: "[When] you strike the women, you strike a rock, you will be crushed [you will die]!"

The phrase has come to represent women’s courage and strength in Southern Africa.

This was very evident  in the women we have met on our journeys.  Often they are left in the rural areas to fend for their family as the father has to work out of town. There is a community but things are harder if you have to do all the things your man would normally help with.

These are not the same "to do" lists that we have; yes, we all have shopping to do but in these rural areas shopping takes a whole day of struggle: wake when the sun still isn't up, walk to where you get the "taxi" (a very worn out pick-up with two benches in the back), pray that there is a spot to squeeeeze into and find a way to balance through the dirt road with pot holes, cows and children all trying to get somewhere; when you reach the tar road you change and wait for the next ride to town. If it's not pension day you have scored Big...Then there are the shops...YHo! dont think you gonna go in for a quick something, not gonna happen. Hmmmm...the only thing i can compare it to is Tube strike day in London.....organized chaos.

Mission accomplished, you have your few weeks' supply of staples for you and your family and aunty and granny who are too old to get their own. Now you got to get it home...same way you came. Don't forget the children want dinner when you get in!

Some of the women will plant a small plot of veg and maize to add to the small purchases. Many in 'The Rurals' have electricity now and running water but we have been in these areas when they are cut off for weeks at a time. Yes, rain water has been collected during rainy season, but this doesn't always cover and she has to collect water for bathing and cooking. When things are very hard there are women and children washing clothes by the river.  Within these tough times these women hold their own, they have dignity, resilience and pride. It is in this context that we see the true beauty of the African Woman.

There are many historical pictures of Xhosa women with long pipes

which has been thought to be for ganja, but generally you will find that woman in the older generation do not smoke Ganja; they may take it as a tea, but in the pipes was a tobacco  of sorts.

But theses entrepreneurial rural women know a good opportunity when they see one. Now, they have put their hands to the ganja growing with some good results.

It is usually the young men that are getting 'pro' with their fields but the women are not so far behind. Woman are usually trimming the plants, which to some may be seen as an unskilled job till she offers you a lovely sticky piece of sweet sativa Charas that has been collected every night with a warm knife. It is a good bonus to a back breaking and finger-aching job.

So, with all this in mind, do a just deal and don't expect that you are going to get a bargain because you have a woman farmer. And above all make sure she gets her worth. She will always hold a tough deal but if you make her happy you may get a smile!

 

PLEASE NOTE WHERE EVER YOU SEE THE FACE OF A PERSON BE AWARE THAT THEY ARE NOT GROWERS JUST MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC.

 

 

-HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN GROWNING?

 

5 years now.

 

-WHAT STRAINS DO YOU HAVE THIS YEAR?

 

Local and last year I was blessed with some seeds from overseas.

 

-DO YOU PULL OUT YOUR MALES?

 

Yes, I was shown this by a visitor few years back.

 

-ARE YOU GROWING LANDRACE?

 

What is this?

 

-DO YOU GROW LOCAL GANJA OR IMPORTED SEEDS?

 

Ah yes, that's our one - the elders don't want to grow the new seeds.

 

-DO YOU USE PESTICIDES?

 

If I have bad bugs I do...first I try garlic, but this must be before flowers come.

 

-DO YOU USE GANJA FOR MEDICINE?

 

My Father used to smoke it but my Ma makes a tea for sleep and fever.

 

-WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START GROWING GANJA?

 

Things not easy here and I have land, so my brother showed me.

 

-HAS IT IMPROVED YOUR LIFE?

 

It makes it easier but it should not be illegal - it is only a plant. Alcohol causes a lot more problems in our community.

 

-WHAT PROBLEMS HAS ALCOHOL CAUSED?

 

Yho...too many husbands get too drunk and spend all the money in the sheebeen (local bar). My neighbor's husband sold her ganja then spent money on beer, it was meant for the school uniform. He was in trouble as woman don't like that, not if she grow it. She is the rock, you know this?

My husband doesn't drink, he works in the city to bring money home for the family and helps in the field when he is home.

 

-WHAT ELSE GROWS IN YOUR GARDEN?

 

I have maize, butternut, cabbage , beans , banana, pawpaw and spinach.

 

-WHAT DO YOU DO WITH YOUR TRIM?

 

My goats like big leaves, but I do make tea.

 

First published in Weed World Magazine edition 123

Posted in Cannabis News
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