How Weed or Marijuana is Made?

You have probably seen pictures of big green leaves (like the one below) as weed or marijuana. If you are someone who thinks marijuana is a very dangerous drug, here’s the thing: marijuana is just a plant. If you want to know if marijuana is bad for you, we’ve published a post about “Weed is bad for you, isn’t it?”

So, how is the plant cultivated to get the THC that goes into various types of marijuana products?

Cannabis (weed) plants can be grown outdoors in places with long hours of daylight (either on natural soil or in pots) or indoors with artificial light. They can start either as stems cut from their mother plants or as seeds. It is said that seeds are harder to ensure consistent quality. If it is cut, in a way it is cloned so the quality consistency is guaranteed. These plants stem from two species, indica and sativa, and you’ve probably heard these terms before. Generally speaking, indica THC gives you more of a relaxed high and sativa THC gives you a more upbeat high. And then, there’s hybrid THC as well.

Cannabis is also a dioecious plant. They can be divided into male and female plants. The female plants are the one that produces THC!

So from seed to harvest, it can take anywhere between 10 and 26 weeks. Of course, starting with cloned plants cuts this time significantly. It goes through three main cycles: germination, vegetation and flowering. Climate control is so important for cannabis to produce good quality THC and so manufacturers prefer indoor cultivation where light, air flow, humidity and temperature can be controlled to stay within small ranges. The weed products that you as an end consumer buy are grown and treated with a lot of care around the clock from multiple cultivators.

Three phases

Germination: This phase takes from 3 to 10 days. Once the seed has sprouted and the first leaves have grown, it can be considered a seedling and moved onto the next phase.

Vegetation: This phase takes from 3 to 16 weeks. If grown indoors, the plant requires about 16 hours of light a day during this phase. The plant really grows during vegetation and requires to be repotted into larger pots. Watering needs to be increased as well as nutrients with higher levels of nitrogen needs to be fed. The plants will start showing whether they are male or female a few weeks into this stage.

Flowering: This phase takes from 8 to 11 weeks. The plants require about 12 hours of light a day and this is the final stage of growth. They will develop buds and look like this.

Then, what?

Well, you can start harvesting and curing the plants to get the THC. Oh, you thought it was done? Once you’ve harvested the fragrant cannabis buds, they need to be dried and cured.

On this note, have you ever smelled cannabis smoke likely from someone smoking a joint and thought it smells bad? Or you are not a fan of the smell even though you smoke? The fresh cannabis buds do not smell like that; they are actually quite fragrant.

Ok, back to curing. It affects the flavor and quality of the end product so, again, a lot of care is required. First, the plant needs to be trimmed to 12-16” branches without unwanted leaves. Then, they are hanged from wires or strings or placed on drying racks. Climate control is very important here as well. You don’t want to dry as quickly as possible to reduce the processing time. A slow drying process at low temperatures will preserve nice quality terpenes. Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in cannabis flowers that give them different smells and flavors.

Once the cannabis buds are mostly dry, you can manicure the buds and place them in airtight containers, packed loosely. Then these sealed containers are placed in a cool, dark and dry storage to complete the process. During this time, the containers need to be opened several times to let the flowers breathe.

When the curing process is completed, you can essentially grind the flowers, roll them into a joint and smoke! Finally!!

Well-cured flowers can be stored in airtight containers in cool, dark places for up to two years.

Wait, but how do we get to edibles?

During the harvesting and curing process, if the buds are not high-quality enough to be sold as flowers, they are sent through another process to be made into THC-infused products. The licensed manufacturers in legal states produce these products in food preparation facilities that look like a giant commercial kitchen. There, different machines are used to extract the cannabinoid oils that go into THC gummies, chocolates, other edibles and various infused beverages.

As you know in the U.S., cannabis is still federally illegal. So, licensed cultivators, manufacturers and retailers in the legal states have to track every plant from seed to product to ensure there’s no shady business going on. As a consumer, you don’t need to worry about this if you are buying from a legal dispensary other than that you will probably see some batch identification number on the packaging. This assures you that these products are tested for quality and consistency in labs.

So hopefully, this answers your question of where a piece of weed gummy or a joint comes to be. It takes a lot of time, effort and care. Cannabis cultivating and harvesting process from seed to flower is as natural as growing other types of plants.