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Cannabis For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cannabis is a broad topic that covers buying cannabis (marijuana), using it (medicinally for cancer or glaucoma or other diseases and recreationally), complying with various laws, growing it, working in the industry, starting a cannabis business, and even investing in cannabis. This Cheat Sheet touches on only a few key topics.

The 3 Primary Cannabis Strains

Whether you’re buying, consuming, or growing cannabis, you need to know the differences among the three primary strains from which all well-known hybrid strains (such as Pineapple Express and OG Kush) are grown.

Strain Structure Characteristics Best for
Indica Short, bushy

Condensed root system

Dense, heavy buds

Relief from pain and inflammation

Long, slender branches

Expansive root system

Long, narrow leaves

1 Requires a shift in duration of light/dark to flower.

How to Differentiate Among Key Cannabinoids

Cannabis contains a variety of chemical compounds called cannabinoids that act on receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system to produce different effects. They also work synergistically with one another and with other chemical compounds to enhance the overall experience—a phenomenon known as the “entourage effect.” Here, we compare the best-known cannabinoids.

Anti-erythemic (reduces redness in skin)

Anti-proliferative (may slow the spread of cancer cells)

Relief for nausea/vomiting

Inhibition of prostate growth

Slow the progression of certain neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s

PTSD relief of panic attacks

What Are Terpenes and the Cannabis Entourage Effect?

Terpenes are aromatic chemical compounds in plants that give them their unique aroma and flavor. They may also work synergistically with cannabinoids and other terpenes to enhance the overall effect of the cannabis — a phenomenon commonly referred to as the “entourage effect.”

Terpene Aroma/flavor Effects
Carene Woody (cedar, pine) Dries excess bodily fluid, including tears and saliva, may cause dry mouth and eye sensations
D-Limonene Citrus Aids in the absorption of other terpenes through skin and mucous membranes, anti-anxiety, immunosuppressant, antidepressant, antibacterial, gastroprotective, kills breast cancer cells
Geraniol Floral (rose) Mosquito repellant, protective against neuropathy
Humulene Earthy, hoppy Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-proliferative, anorectic (appetite suppressant)
Linalool Floral and sweet citrus often found in lavender Anti-anxiety, sedative, local anesthetic, analgesic, anti-convulsive
Myrcene Earthy, hoppy with tropical fruit Sedative, analgesic, antibiotic, muscle relaxant
Terpineol Floral (lilac) Relaxation
Terpinolene Floral with a smoky woodiness Highly sedative, anti-microbial, anti-proliferative
α-Pinene Pine Anti-inflammatory, bronchodilation, anti-microbial, focus and memory enhancement
β-Caryophyllene Pepper, clove, spice Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, antidepressant, antioxidant, anti-microbial, gastroprotective

10 Tips for Growing More and Better Weed

When you’re growing your own cannabis (marijuana), the two goals are more and better. Here are ten tips to get you there.

  • Start with feminized seeds. You won’t get buds from a male plant (sorry guys). Buy feminized seeds at your local dispensary or grow outlet.
  • Use quality soil. Soil must absorb moisture but also drain well. If in doubt, buy a pre-mix soil from a local nursery. A soil made for tomatoes works well for cannabis too.
  • Upsize your container. If the container’s too small, it stunts the plant’s growth.
  • Use the right nutrients at the right times. During the vegetative stage, use a fertilizer with high nitrogen, medium phosphorous, and high potassium. In the flower stage, switch to a fertilizer with low nitrogen, medium to high phosphorous, and high potassium.
  • Increase light intensity. Generally speaking, the more intense the light, the bigger and more productive the plant. Just be sure not to burn the plants and, if you’re growing photoperiod plants, that you switch to a 12-hour on, 12-hour off light cycle when you’re plants are ready to enter the flowering stage.
  • Increase CO2: When growing indoors, if you increase the light intensity, add CO2, so the plants can take full advantage of the increased light intensity. The CO2 concentration should be between 700 and 900 parts per million (ppm) during the vegetative stage and between 1,200 and 1,500 ppm during the flowering stage.
  • Prune your plants. Remove low branches that aren’t receiving light, dead or yellowing leaves, branches that are growing up through the center of the plant, and, during the flowering stage, any fan leaves that are sitting on other leaves or preventing light from reaching other parts of the plant.
  • Train your plants. You can use various techniques to make your plant grow more horizontally, thus exposing a greater area of the plant to light and increasing flower production. Techniques include trellising, low-stress training (LST), and scrogging.
  • Flush the grow medium. Up to two weeks prior to harvest, flush the grow medium with pure reverse osmosis (RO) or distilled water to dissolve and remove accumulated salts that can negatively affect the way the plant burns and tastes.
  • Harvest at peak potency. When about a third of the trichomes turn amber and most are cloudy white, your plant is ready to harvest. Trichomes form the sticky crystal substance that covers the bud; they contain most of the cannabinoids and terpenes in the plant.

8 Reasons to Think Twice about Starting a Cannabis Business

People who are passionate about cannabis often dream of starting their own cannabis business. A huge percentage of those businesses fail, and not necessarily due to a lack of effort or expertise. Here are ten reasons why you may want to think twice about starting a cannabis business:

  • Federal taxes: Due to federal 280E legislation that disallows traditional income tax deductions for cannabis businesses, your business income will be taxed at an effective rate of 75–95 percent.
  • State and local taxes: While most state and local taxes are passed along to the consumer, these taxes raise the prices of products for consumers, which can negatively impact your sales.
  • License fees: A license to open a cannabis business is likely to cost more than $60,000! In addition, you’ll probably need the help of a high-priced consultant or lawyer to guide you through the application process.
  • Compliance costs hassles: The rules and regulations governing cannabis businesses are costly and complex, and you’d better follow them to the letter or you stand to lose that license you paid over $60K for!
  • Competition: Competition in the industry is stiff, including competition from black market sellers who may be able to undercut you on price because they don’t pay taxes.
  • Criminals: The combination of cash and drugs is attractive to criminals, who are willing to snatch both. Your business will be a prime target.
  • Inaccessible banking: Most banks are prohibited or reluctant to serve cannabis businesses, meaning all transactions must be in cash. You even have to pay your employees and your taxes in cash.
  • Limited access to bank loans: You can’t get a loan from a federally insured bank, because they’re prohibited by law from profiting from cannabis.

Discover the different strains of cannabis, get tips for growing better marijuana, and think twice about starting a cannabis business.

How to Make a Lot of Money Selling Marijuana

(And not end up in jail.)

The era of shady, low-profit, back-alley weed dealing is over: As marijuana legalization is cautiously rolled out across America, weed professionals are laying the groundwork for a sprawling and legitimate cannabis industry. But it needs humans to work. Right now, marijuana sales are poised to top $20.2 billion by 2020, and there are about 120,000 legal jobs that already exist in the industry. That number is only going to grow as legal cannabis gains traction.

The burgeoning field, which boasts a median salary of about $57,000, requires experts from all walks of life. The fact that the industry is so young means that there’s plenty of room for beginners to move up. While there will always be bud to tend and plants to water, the cannabis industry’s legitimacy has opened up thousands of what industry insiders call “ancillary” jobs — those that support the production and sale of weed-related businesses. But which of these can make us rich? To find out, Inverse interviewed a trio of successful cannabis entrepreneurs. Here are the career paths they suggest the modern, profit-chasing weed dealer should consider.

Consulting

While marijuana-friendly state laws ease the path towards starting your very own cannabis business, entrepreneurs taking the DIY route will wind up in paperwork hell, Frank Lane, CEO of the cannabis media company CFN Media, tells Inverse. There’s very little precedent for large-scale enterprise in this industry, which is why consultants who have gained the necessary experience in other fields are in high demand. Experts educated in business law can help navigate legal weed’s complicated (and expensive) licensing procedures, while those with entrepreneurial experience and familiarity with industry norms can guide business owners through the process of setting up a business or even purchasing an existing dispensary, Lane adds.

Managing a Business

While owning your own business can be prohibitively expensive (more on that later), there’s plenty of money to be made in managing someone else’s business. In an interview with Inverse, Derek Peterson, the CEO of Terra Tech, the first publicly traded cannabis company in the United States, says that big business owners are in need of people who can organize staff and set schedules. While these may not seem like skills that could earn you a lot of money, Peterson says there’s a “premium” on people with retail experience right now because “there isn’t a talent pool”. That’s not the only reason they’re willing to pay up: Cannabis professionals want to “show face to other industries,” Peterson says, explaining that offering competitive salaries ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 gives the entire cannabis industry a sense of legitimacy.

Weed Technology

Modern industries can’t survive without the internet and a smartphone, and cannabis is no exception. Companies like MJ Freeway and Biotrack THC — which produce licensing software for businesses to process their marijuana sales — are indispensable to anyone in the supply chain, Lane says.

They’re not, however, immune to hackers, as a recent attack on MJ Freeway revealed. In fact, marijuana-focused cybersecurity is a growing sub-industry that is looking for experts.

As in all businesses, the customer is key, as Neil Demers, the CEO of high-end cannabis company and brand Diego Pellicer, pointed out in an interview with Inverse. “In my personal opinion, I have not seen that many good apps,” he says, referring to programs that make the experience of buying weed seamless and convenient. As going to a dispensary is still uncomfortable for some people, app developers could play a crucial role in shaping the American weed industry going forward.

Chemists

As marijuana extracts like waxes and shatters become more popular — and demand will for sure grow as new medical applications are discovered — anyone trying to run a scientific, pharmaceutical-grade extraction business will need experts in cannabis oil extraction, says Peterson. This isn’t an easy process: It involves using either liquified carbon dioxide or volatile petroleum solvents such as butane, hexane, or propane, which can explode if handled improperly. There aren’t a lot of people with this scientific expertise, Peterson says, so business owners will probably be willing to pay up for specialists.

Growers

Of course, there’s always going to be room for people who are familiar with the plant itself: The head grower of a large cultivation facility, Peterson says, can earn up to “six figures” if they know what they’re doing. This job, however, can be challenging: Growing a couple of hydroponic plants in your apartment’s back room isn’t the same as managing thousands of square feet of marijuana farmland. A good grower will have to not only be familiar with cultivation but also be able to keep up with the rapidly changing scientific and technologic standards being applied to marijuana’s lighting, irrigation, and harvesting processes as growers scale way, way up.

(And not end up in jail.)