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Growing Medical Marijuana - How to Grow Plants from Seed

Updated on November 15, 2012

States where it is legal to grow medical cannabis with a doctor's card.

Amount cannabis Permitted
Medical Marijuana
1 oz
8 oz
2 oz
3 oz
2.5 oz
any amount
1 oz
1 oz
New Mexico
6 oz
24 oz
Rhode Island
2.5 oz
2 oz
24 oz

Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is marijuana that has been prescribed for a patient by a medical doctor.

Sub-section (b)(1)(A) of Section 11362.5 (called The Compassionate Use Act of 1966) of the California Health and Safety Code clearly states

"To ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the persons health would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief. "

While sub-section (d) of the same Act states "Section 11357, relating to the possession of marijuana, and Section 11358, relating to the cultivation of marijuana, shall not apply to a patient, or to a patient's primary caregiver, who possesses or cultivates marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of a physician."

In other words, people in the state of California can grow their own marijuana provided they carry a card from their doctor permitting them to use marijuana.

Several other states have also adopted this legal stance, and medical marijuana in now permitted in Canada, UK, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Israel, Italy, Finland and Portugal.

Meanwhile, marijuana has been decriminalised in many states. See chart for facts and figures.

The Act goes on to say under section 11362.77. (a)

"A qualified patient or primary caregiver may possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana per qualified patient. In addition, a qualified patient or primary caregiver may also maintain no more than six mature or 12 immature marijuana plants per qualified patient".

but sub-section (b) adds

"If a qualified patient or primary caregiver has a doctor's recommendation that this quantity does not meet the qualified patient' s medical needs, the qualified patient or primary caregiver may possess an amount of marijuana consistent with the patient's needs."

Only the flower of the female plant is counted in the weighing process for what is permitted and what is not.

Consequently, this guide is intended for readers who are legally permitted to grow medical marijuana in their own home.


pot plant
pot plant

How to germinate marijuana seed

Cannabis seeds can be stored in the fridge until ready for use.

How to Grow Marijuana from Seed

There is plenty advice out there on the internet about placing the seed on moist kitchen paper, then placing this paper inside a sealed plastic bag to aid germination, but they germinate just as easily if you plant them to their depth in a small pot containing potting compost, keep warm and water regularly to ensure it doesn’t dry out.

Germination can take anything from 2 days to 3 weeks, depending on marijuana strain, or age of seed; freshest being the best. Do not use ‘white’ seeds. These are dead. The seed should be dark brown.

Like all seedlings, they first produce two round leaves, the next set of leaves begin to take on the typical cannabis leaf shape.

Keep your plant well-watered, warm and give it plenty light. Sunlight is best.

healthy seeds
healthy seeds

Marijuana cultivation

It is best to start your plants in spring, not only to give them time to mature and flower before the first frosts of autumn arrive, but because in spring the natural daylight is lengthening until it reaches its peak on the summer equinox, after which the daylight hours decrease until the autumnal equinox when you have approximately 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night; triggering the natural response of the plant to flower.

Of course, it is possible to grow them under artificial lights, in a grow box, altering the light it receives to mimic nature, but this hub is dedicated to natural growing.

Growing Marijuana From Seed - Sexing your plant

Marijuana has male and female plants. Both are actually useful to the medicinal user, but the female is the most sought after, containing high levels of THC - tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.

If you grow both together, the male will fertilise the female, and the THC will be reduced as the mother plant then puts all her energy into producing seed instead of THC. Male plants flower a few weeks before the female, so it is easy to identify and get rid of them, or put them in another sunny room in the house with the windows kept shut to prevent windborne pollination.

Male flower cannabis

Male flowers: are shaped like little balls, and when start to open the bright yellow pollen is visible

Female Marijuana Flowers

Female flowers: start by showing white pistils, which look like white hairs.

You just see one or two white hairs like shown in the picture here, then they multiply. The white hairs are always at the end of a growing tip. They do not grow in the branches coming off the stem like the male flowers do.

When growing marijuana from seed, about 50% of your seedlings should be one or the other.

Marijuana cultivation

Marijuana grows quickly; they can complete their life cycle in as little as 2 months, but the normal is 4 – 6 months. Have a selection of different sized pots to transplant your little plants as they outgrow each pot. Else, transplant them directly from their first pot when they have outgrown it, into the largest pot you can find. An old plastic bucket/pail with holes drilled in the bottom will suffice.

They can be planted directly into a sunny but hidden spot in the garden, but I don’t recommend this. Even if they are out of sight, their scent is strong and could alert others to their presence.

While it is legal here, your outdoor plant could grow huge, with a potential crop of 600 – 1000gms of bud, and when you consider that the street value of this bud is 10 per gram, your plant suddenly takes on a huge value which makes it a target for thieves.

If you must grow it outside, built a solidly constructed cage with a padlock around it.

Marijuana traditionally grows in the wild in very poor soil, so it really doesn’t matter too much what it is planted in. I recommend using good compost for plants kept in containers, because their roots are restricted and unlike in the freedom of the wild, they can’t send out ‘feeler roots’ to look for any element they may need.

Caught Growing Cannabis Illegally!!

Growing Cannabis from Seed

As you are only allowed three plants, I would recommend planting 6 initially, as three are, by law of averages, going to be male. It is possible when they are quite small to force them into flower by controlling the light they receive. This can be done by moving them into a dark room every evening so they get less natural light, or else covering them with a specially constructed black frame. Try to give them 12/12 light for 2 or 3 weeks until the males start to flower.

Then put them back into their normal cycle and your females should continue to grow.

There is a slightly higher risk of your females turning hermaphrodite if you do this. Hermaphrodite plants have both male and female flowers on the same plant. Any shock to their system can turn females hermaphrodite, and many of the so-called feminised seed you see for sale are in fact, the seed of the male part of the hermaphrodite plant crossed with another female. The resulting seedling is always female, but with the risk of turning hermaphrodite if the plant gets shocked in any way.

Flowering Marijuana - ready to harvest

When to Harvest Marijuana

Knowing when to cut down your flowering female plant is an art in itself. There are plenty sites/forums dedicated to this; the new grower finds it difficult to know the optimum time, but basically it is when the white hairs (pistils) on the flower are turning light brown, and the whole flower head glistens with the crystals of the THC.

It is possible to only cut off only some of the flower heads, leaving the plant still alive and growing, but unless there are still quite a few big leaves left on the plant, and most of them at this stage in its life cycle have naturally dried up and died anyway, the plant will die.

It is probably better to cut the whole plant down at the base.

You then have the job of cutting and pruning the plant. To do this, cut the plant into branches, and then trim off all the leaves, separating large leaves from small leaves.

Cut and Prepared Marijuana - ready to dry

Growing Marijuana from Seed - Harvesting

These leaves can also be used forsmoking or breaking up into tea leave sized crumbs, when dry, for baking cakes. The smaller leaves have more THC than bigger ones.

Leave the flowers on the branches and hang upsidedown to dry, on a clothesline or string hung up in a cupboard or unused, darkened room, preferably with ventilation.

It should take two or three weeks to dry them to the extent that the stems snap clean off when you exert a little pressure.

Now is the time to take the down and cut the flower heads off, and pack into glass jars for ‘curing’. Some people recommend unscrewing the lid for 24 hours, then tightening it for 24 hours, in a cycle for a couple of weeks. Curing lengthens the time your cannabis can be kept without loss of strength.

Read more about growing plants on my blog - Gro Garden

Growing Marijuana from Seed - Disclaimer

Disclaimer: This guide is intended purely for interest to the keen gardener, and is not a green light for those with a marijuana addiction.


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