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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.

PR Pro Pours Expertise Into ‘Cannabis for Dummies’ Book

After a year and a half of running communications for what was then the largest dispensary chain in the U.S., Kim Casey literally wrote the book on the industry.

When Kim Casey walked onto her public relations job at Native Roots Dispensary in Colorado, she didn’t even know the meaning of “MIP” ー or marijuana-infused product ー which is pretty common lingo in the cannabis industry. But after a year and a half of running communications for what was then the largest U.S. dispensary chain, she wrote the literal book on the industry.

The Wiley publishing company tapped Casey to write “Cannabis for Dummies,” the latest in the publisher’s “Dummies” brand. The book, which covers everything from curing dried cannabis to investing in the industry, is set to publish May 14, but is already available for pre-order on Amazon.

“In my communications role, I was dealing with pieces of the entire industry,” Casey said. “I needed to learn about the plants, I needed to learn about the products, the processes. There was a truly a learning curve for me and I brought that learning curve to the book.”

Before her foray into cannabis, Casey had been working in communications for about two decades in a variety of different roles — she even worked for former Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater for a time. But when opportunity came knocking at Colorado’s Native Roots, a vertically-integrated cannabis company that once famously sought naming rights to the Broncos stadium, she said she couldn’t resist.

“For a comms manager, nothing is quite as juicy as the cannabis industry,” she said. “There are issues to manage, there’s expansion to support, there’s staff, there are crises, there are, I mean, everything you can possibly imagine. Basically everything I’d been training to do my entire career, I brought.”

In the cannabis industry, Casey’s reputation is tied to one particularly quick-thinking moment of crisis PR. When a group of teens smashed a van into the storefront of a Native Roots dispensary in Colorado Springs, locals feared the thieves had made off with what Casey described as “armfuls of cannabis” due to erroneous reports when the story first broke. In reality, since the product and cash was locked away, they only managed to steal a few t-shirts and some display pre-rolls stuffed with oregano ー a point Casey hammered home to media.

She said the narrative around the viral story shifted pretty quickly, and proved an opportunity to underscore maturity in the cannabis industry.

“A lot of the feedback online was ‘those silly thieves,’” she said. “The general public was very comfortable making that flip from, ‘Oh my goodness there’s rampant unsecured cannabis product running around,’ to ‘How silly a thought, of course it was secured.’”

“That was really a turning point in my mind to be able to look at this and say, yeah, the nation, the world, is truly beginning to embrace this as a mainstream industry,” she added.

The “Cannabis for Dummies” book, Casey said, is further proof that the industry has gone mainstream.

Despite that 33 states and D.C. have legalized cannabis in some form and as many as 62 percent of Americans say marijuana use should be legalized, according to Gallup, the drug is still highly illegal on the federal level.

Casey said that reality meant she had to be careful when writing “Cannabis for Dummies,” especially since it contains pretty detailed information on how to grow your own cannabis. All of it, she emphasized, is carefully couched in language that urges readers to research and adhere to local and federal law.

As with the growing chapter, and another about starting a cannabis business, there are some pretty high-level concepts in the book, but Casey said she thinks the most important parts are those that help people feel comfortable around cannabis. For example, there is a chapter entitled “Choosing and Visiting a Cannabis Dispensary.”

“A woman that I know who is older than I am … came over to me and said, ‘I hear you’re doing this, I have questions, I have chronic pain,” Casey said. “There’s so much misinformation out there she didn’t understand. And this was an individual who would benefit from this knowledge.”

“It’s for that neighbor who desperately wants to learn,” she added.

As for Casey, she left Native Roots in early 2019 to focus solely on her book. Now that it’s finished, she’ll be taking on a new challenge in (where else?) the burgeoning hemp industry.

After a year and a half of running communications for the largest dispensary in the U.S., Kim Casey wrote the literal book.