Safe Access Now Online Handbook
By Chris Conrad (c) 2004 , 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
Usable Medical Marijuana
“Only the dried mature processed flowers of female cannabis plant or the plant conversion shall be considered when determining allowable quantities of marijuana under this section.”
– California Health and Safety Code 11362.77(d)
Plant, tend, harvest, prepare and store
Cannabis takes root as either seedlings or cuttings (clones). Later, male plants are cut out of the garden to prevent pollination. Female plants grow to full maturity before being cut and harvested. About 75% of the fresh weight is moisture that is lost in the drying process.
“[T]he quantity possessed by the patient or the primary caregiver, and the form and manner in which it is possessed, should be reasonably related to the patient’s current medical needs.”
– California Court of Appeals, People v. Trippet (1997)
Almost half of the dried plant matter is stem; only about a quarter (18% to 28%) remains after the herb is cured and manicured into medical-grade bud. This bud portion of the plant has a coating of resin glands that contain cannabinoids, the active compounds.
Since different kinds of cannabis have distinct medicinal benefits, genetics are critical. Breeding is preferably done through selection from among very large numbers — hundreds or even thousands — of individual plants. The list below shows just a few of the ways cannabis is prepared or converted and utilized by patients, caregivers, collectives and cooperatives.
Mature female cannabis plants, like the bushy outdoor specimen shown above, produce buds that contain the concentrated medicinal compounds. Compare this plant, that produced more than five ounces of bud, to the indoor plant shown here
Male plants are unusable, and so are promptly removed and destroyed unless pollen is desired for seeds. After the first appearance of their flowers, it typically takes months for female bud to fully mature. According to the federal Cannabis Yields study, only about 7% of the freshly cut mature plant weight becomes dried, manicured medical-grade bud.
Inhaled cannabis: smoked or vaporized
Bud, the dried, manicured mature female cannabis flower
Sinsemilla, seedless bud
Kef (kif, keif), the powdery resin glands of the plant
Hashish, compressed resin glands
Oil, liquefied resin glands
Eaten: oral ingestion
The various conversions above can all be eaten
Butter, used for cooking or baking edibles
Pastries, candies, sauces, made with the above items
Tinctures, drinking-alcohol-based (liquor), by the dropper
Mari-pills, encapsulated cannabis in oil
Dronabinol, marinol, synthetic THC, sold by prescription
Topical use: external application
Tinctures, isopropyl alcohol-based suspensions
Liniment, isopropyl alcohol- or DMSO-based suspensions
Salves, cream or oil-based compounds
Pending means of ingestion
Cannabinoid inhalers GW Pharmaceuticals product
(not available in USA)
Ratio of sinsemilla bud to leaf, excluding stems and branches.
The canopy size predicts yield
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted scientific research with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the University of Mississippi, published in the 1992 DOJ report, Cannabis Yields. Both seeded and sinsemilla plants of several seed varieties were measured. The NIDA data in Table 3 includes leaf with the bud, and therefore requires an additional adjustment to arrive at the true garden yield below.
Canopy is a term used in agriculture to describe the foliage of growing plants. The area shaded by foliage is called the canopy cover. The data on this page are based on the higher yielding, more potent seedless buds, sinsemilla. The federal field data show that, on average, each square foot of mature, female outdoor canopy yields less than a half-ounce of dried and manicured bud (Table 4), consistent with growers’ reports and gardens that have been seized by police as evidence and I have later weighed and examined.
All other things being equal, a large garden will always yield more than a small one, no matter how many plants it contains. This is true for skilled and unskilled gardener alike. Restricting canopy will therefore limit any garden’s total bud yield, no matter which growing technique is used or how many plants make up the combined canopy cover. Most patients can meet their medical need with 100 square feet of garden canopy.