Medical Marijuana: A Seed of Doubt

Quality marijuana seeds are the staple of a healthy crop, but they may serve some other health-minded purposes as well.

Marijuana throughout history has had its highs and lows. Please excuse the pun. But the devil’s lettuce hasn’t also been property of satan himself. For years, marijuana cultivated and used for a number of different practical applications- like rope, paper, clothing, and even food. Yes, food. And not necessarily of the pot brownie variety. Hemp seeds were a staple part of the American diet, and for good reason. So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that these action-packed additives are making a return. Not to mention, marijuana seeds can now be found cheaply and easily online, so you don’t even have to “know a guy” to get the full health benefits of these great little grains of glory. Online seed companies, like High Supplies out of the Netherlands, are one example of the businesses that benefit off this shift in culture.

A Brief History of Hemp

It wasn’t until the early nineteenth century that marijuana was fully criminalized in the United States. Since marijuana has a history of proliferate use that can be traced back into the Neolithic age, it’s fair to say that it was around a lot longer than it was banned.

Throughout Asia and the Indian subcontinent, cannabis was a widely used and heavily traded crop for thousands of years. While the psychoactive drug was used for many types of religious ceremonies, it was also popularized for recreational use. The Scythians, Thracians, and Daciens were introduced to cannabis through their Iranian neighbors, and archeologists contend that all three would use cannabis in smoke ceremonies to produce hypnotic trances as early as the 5th century. Around 1000 BC, India popularized the therapeutic consumption of of both the flowers and seeds into food and drink, including bhanga medical marijuana preparation that is still being used to this day.

Evidence of its use was found in Muslim cultures as early as the Mamluk period. Smoking pipes found in Ethiopia have been carbon dated to as early as AD 1320. In the mid- to late 1800’s physicians from Paris and Ireland brought a renewed interest in cannabis to the European mainland and United Kingdom.

Beginning in the 19th century, British colonies began a widespread sweep and shutdown of marijuana use and production, due to concerns over how it was affecting indentured Indian workers. Many other countries also followed suit, and marijuana became widely criminalized. Leaving its medicinal, therapeutic, nutritious, and practical uses all but forgotten.

shutterstock_116618575Psychoactive vs. Non-Psychoactive

Contrary to popular belief, not all parts of a cannabis plant are psychoactive. In fact, there are strains of marijuana plants that have no psychoactive properties. Marijuana seeds contain no psychoactive properties wither, even in high-THC content plants, the only parts of the plant that have any ability to get you high are the flowers, stems, stalks, and leaves- leaving all other parts of the plant free from the moody effect of THC.

Just because a plant is non-psychoactive doesn’t mean it’s completely without health benefits. Of the two major cannabinoids that are studied for their therapeutic effects, only one has the potential to produce a high. Both CBD and THC are being studied for their medical benefits currently. CBD is non-psychoactive but has been shown to have extreme promise in the treatment of many different ailments. Including analgesia (pain reduction) and anti-epileptics (anti-seizure applications). Combinations of the two chemicals have shown promise in the treatment of different anxieties and sleep disorders, as well as being used to relieve uncomfortable side effects and complications that can arise from using more conventional medications.

However, contemporary science as well as our ancestors are telling us that there are many more benefits to be reaped from the use of cannabis that fall outside of these two essential cannabinoids.

Hemp Seeds for Total Body Health

Marijuana seeds are non-psychoactive and are once again becoming popularized for their multifaceted applications in total body wellness. The seeds from the marijuana plant are useful in a number of different applications. Hemp seeds are fantastically filled with easy to digest protein. This is a great addition to diets that have greatly reduced, or completely eliminated animal-based proteins from their diet.

Hemp seeds are a great way to help stabilize weight as well. Whether you’re looking to build lean muscle mass or cut down on excess fat- cannabis seeds can provide the best of both worlds. Many pro-athletes use hemp seed protein powders to supplement their diets because of how readily available and affordable they are.

They are also filled with necessary fiber and a ton of omega fatty acids that almost everyone is sorely in need of. Fiber is excellent for keeping your digestion process in top form, and omega fatty acids are necessary for a multitude of bodily functions, however, most contemporary American diets are super low in both of these vital nutrients.

The seeds can directly improve heart and vascular health thanks to being jam packed with linoleic acid and arginine, combined with the omega acids have been shown to reduce clotting, decrease blood pressure, and naturally reduced the abundance of inflammatory proteins.

Choosing the Right Seeds

Choosing the right seeds, or the right type of seed preparation isn’t as hard as it may seem. Marijuana seeds in any form available will still contain all of the vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients. To decipher which preparation is the best to suit you and your needs, you’ll have to first consider how you plan on using the seeds in your kitchen. The internet is chalk full of recipes that include cannabis seeds and their byproducts.

Hemp seed oil is once again becoming much more common an item on the shelves of your local grocery store. Using the oil similarly to that of olive in dish preparation will give you the same great taste and textures, but all with way more nutritional benefit. Hemp seed powder can be used as a plant-based protein supplement in everything from smoothies to homemade protein bars.

You can also get the seeds in their pure and unadulterated form, roasting them lightly and turning them into a great snack or salad topper. You can eat them raw, or add them to smoothies. Snag yourself a sack of hemp seed flour and create breads or other baked goodies. Hemp milk is an excellent a super healthy alternative to dairy products. When it comes to using hemp seeds in your kitchen, there’s really no limit to the number of dishes that can be supplemented and enhanced by these impressive little poppers. So now that you’ve got all the knowledge, the only thing you’re missing are the seeds!

 

The Dirt On Growing Green: What’s This Organic Matter?

By Sunny Kaercher

Perhaps one of the most prolific, and misused, words of the past decade, organic, appears as if it is here to stay.  This article is not about organic cultivation methodologies — or even any certifying body that might confirm that regulate it —  but rather, organic matter in the soil (and/or “grow media”). Organic is the backbone of growing hearty plants naturally, and the key to understanding nutrient cycling.

If you aren’t cultivating via aeroponics or the variety of hydroponic mediums like rockwool, hydroton or lava rock, then you are growing in some form of organic material, and this article is relevant to your operation.

Organic matter is decomposed organic material. And what is an organic material? Essentially, anything carbon-based qualifies as an organic material. A few of our favorite sources for organic material are leaves, grasses, kitchen scraps (aside from animal products & oils), manure, woody materials and root balls. Though they are all carbon-based, each has a unique amount of Nitrogen within their composition. Measured as the C:N ratio (carbon to nitrogen), materials can casually be categorized as either “green waste” (nitrogen-rich) or “brown waste” (carbon-rich).  Anyone who composts probably knows that you want a specific balance of green to brown waste to build rich organic matter. The process of decomposition is beautiful and complex. A fleet of microbes, primarily bacteria and fungi, can take credit for the break down.

Soil microbes consume carbon for energy, and nitrogen for protein (building blocks). As they consume materials, they have the ability of converting it to plant-available nutrients – either in their waste or immobilized in their bodies. Organic matter is valuable as more than just a nutrient source. It has a high water-holding capacity, resists compaction, and encourages aggregation of particles. All of these characteristics benefit both microbes and plant roots.

Referring back to the first Dirt on Growing Green, a native soil comprises of approximately 5% organic matter. However, the soilless medias that are exceedingly popular in the cannabis industry (and traditional horticulture) have much more organic matter/material. Pumice, perlite, or any other rock-based component aside, they are entirely organic materials. Peat moss, coco coir, forest materials, compost, worm castings; they are all carbon-based. All of these materials should be stable (compost as a ‘humus’), meaning they have gone through the majority of the decomposition process. However, there is likely more to be done, and the break down will resume as roots grow and soil microbes thrive. In other words: as your plant grows, nutrients will continue to become plant-available (mineralization).

So what’s the magic recipe of organic matter for growing cannabis? Well, it entirely depends on your situation. But regardless of your situation, if you are growing in organic material, you will want to replenish organic matter often. Either with fresh grow media, or top dressing to integrate the benefits. Top dressing can range from applying humic acids, to mulching, to spreading mature compost. Effectively, you are feeding the microbes so that they can feed the plants. Old leaves turning in to new leaves. What better demonstration of the interconnectedness of this world?

Dr. Rick Freeman: The Big Eco Squeeze

By Dr. Rick Freeman, Exclusive to MJNewsNetwork.com 

COLORADO: The advent of the legal marijuana industry has spawned some scale-up effects. One obvious outcome is that inefficiencies have surfaced as significant liabilities.  Another is that farmers are getting squeezed and are, therefore, compelled to push their agro-ecosystems to maximum short-term productivity.   In this environment, risky and sometimes questionable practices emerge and often result in catastrophe.  The bad press around pesticide abuse is a case in point: in Colorado, this year, agencies have mandated large-scale recalls of edibles, while in Washington, private researchers have identified forbidden pesticides in a variety of products.

This pattern is likely to continue, given the current industry environment, with farmers facing the squeeze from all sides.  The current combination of regulatory structures, low energy prices and low profit margins for farmers almost guarantees a certain level of pesticide abuse, pushing farmers towards over-crowded growing conditions in environments devoid of natural checks on pests and pathogens.

In agricultural ecosystems, most of our pesticide problems follow from management practices that attract pests to vulnerable crops in the first place.  Farmers well know that a dense canopy of luscious, nitrogen-rich cannabis is a giant pest target.  Critters can move happily through the canopy, swinging on webbing, piercing and sucking and having a grand time.  To make matters worse, because these indoor agro-ecosystems are isolated from natural ecosystems, they have no contact with native natural defense systems.   Instead, farmers have to buy, preserve and apply pest-thwarting critters and microbes, which can rack up materials and labor costs.  In many cases – as in an infestation crisis – farmers will deem pesticides to be a more economic choice.

In Washington, the state’s tier system forces over-crowding by mandating area limitations based on canopy area, pushing growers to accommodate as many plants as they can possibly fit.   Under this system, farmers can grow up to 30,000 square feet in a Tier III operation, 10,000 for a T-II and 2,000 for a T-I.  That means that every square foot has premium value and must produce a maximum value.  To add to the fun, spatial limitations encourage  growers to use hydroponic systems – as containers and media are bulky – and hydro spawns pests.  With few other affordable options, pesticide use is an obvious outcome.  In contrast, Colorado marijuana growers are now able to stretch their limbs, since the state has lifted vertical integration provisions that forced most cultivators to grow on-site.  And, having learned from others’s mistakes, Oregon has avoided this pitfall from the beginning.

But, other forces continue to push farmers to crowd too many plants into confined spaces.  In Colorado, where real estate is expensive and square footage is dear, many producers still grow on-site because they are locked into investments from the days of mandated vertical integration.   What’s more, in all states, growers face a tough economic climate, wherein marijuana behaves like a fungible commodity and the price paid to farmers trends ever downward.  Enter cheap fuel, which means cheap electricity, and the compulsion to grow indoors is irresistible.  Equally important, growing indoors is a familiar mode for a large sector of the industry, and farmers do what has proven to work for them.  And, finally, to exasperate the situation, because of federal prohibition, farmers can’t borrow money and buy insurance to buffer their risks.  So, they contain losses with pesticides.

But.  We’re learning.  As consumers continue to step up and demand clean marijuana – and as ecologically-minded farmers emerge and voice their opinions – the political climate will change and regulatory change will follow.  Consumer health and healthy ecosystems are important issues these days, and in the case of marijuana, they are tightly linked.  We’ll live to enjoy clean legal pot.