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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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    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from UK

      Be careful out there with self-medicating, James. Marijuana is great for pain, but it is still a powerful drug and can affect your psychosis in ways that are just becoming apparent. The younger you are when you start, the greater the dangers too. Interesting about the legal meth all the same. I don't trust big pharma either.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hahaha wow I just began smoking it after my injury lol I haven't done it but twice people are so judgemental over stuff that actually helps and here's the sad part the U.S. Government won't legalize marijuana but yet the allow the doctors which btw I only see through a tv screen to prescribe me generic meth in "pill" form for ADHD, smh people need to open their eyes and learn themselves instead of going along with what everyone else says

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from UK

      Just counted, I have 32 Amazon ads and 1600 words, so that's OK. I will leave these comments here for a day or two to give you time to respond, but then I will delete them because they don't look good on a hub.

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from UK

      I'm not allowed Google adverts on this page because Google themselves won't allow adverts on content such as this. Actually I need to check this hub to see if I have too many products advertised from Amazon - we are allowed 1 product per 50 words, but this is quite a wordy hub. I have 'no smoking' type hubs that have the warning about cigarettes, but its only a warning, nothing else. Watch yourself on blogger as it is owned by google. If you wants adverts don't write about anything that goes against their TOS. I wish I hadn't written this one but don't want to unpublish because it has a high number of views.

    • World-Traveler profile image


      10 years ago from USA

      How do you do it? I featured a Hub about speedboats, also known as cigarette boats. Hubpages staff Red Flagged the Hub as promoting the "sale of tobacco".

      Plus, if I feature more than two products on my Hubpages I am Red Flagged by Hubpages staff again for being "Overly Promotional".

      You are fortunate that Hubpages has allowed you a long liberal language reach as well as a spectacular array of space for display advertising. I have not been so lucky. So far, 65 of my Hubpages have been deleted because of similar display advertising practices. I am in the process of moving them over to Google Blogger.

    • profile image

      i grow pot 

      10 years ago

      ive never been sick enough to where i had to be in the doctor's or hospital, i have great health and have been smoking marijuana since i was 13 years old, i am 26 now and am a firm believer that marijuana is here for me to enjoy and that it is less harmful than drinking or smoking cigarettes, I come home every day and enjoy a big chronic bowl to relax and have fun.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      everyone should have the option to smoke weed, if people can drug themselves on nicotine(cigarettes) then they should be allowed to use thc which is a much better option than nicotine

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Good hub, check out my medical marijuana blog

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from UK

      ROFL, OK the plants like music! (apparently)

      Actually there is some evidence to suggest that ALL plants grow better with music. I did hear somewhere that they like classical music but of course that might just be a vicious rumour and that they really like HOUSE or RAP.

    • Cattleprod Media profile image

      Cattleprod Media 

      11 years ago from Johannesburg

      Here in South Africa, marijuana grows very easily. Although it is illegal, it is still very common for people to use it. In many cases, the police turn a blind eye. I'm a firm believer in using marijuana and I feel that it is far less harmful than alcohol. Oh and one thing you could mention is that the plants like music and being talked to... hehe, but that's just my own personal opinion. Maybe it's a stoner opinion haha

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Shirly I have Fibromyalgia and use pot on a regular basis to treat whay I am going through. I delt with the pain for many years by myself before using marajuana to help. There are no medications with out major side effects to treat or even help what I feel and deal with everyday. DOES THAT MAKE ME STUPID? You may think so but I know that WE are not. No not everyone uses it to for medicinal purposes but there are many people in the world who have real problems and find that it helps. In Genisis you know the first book in the bible God tells us that he has given us every herb bearing seed. He also says not to judge. Why are you even in this search engine anyways if you don't smoke. Maybe you should go and attack someone like a drinker, you know people that actually cause harm. Just remember just cause you don't do it doesn't mean that you know what in the he-double-hockey-sticks you are talking about and that maybe just maybe you should keep your nasty snide comments to yourself!

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from UK

      Thanks for that Shirley :)

      Anyone reading here is welcome to look at the link you have so kindly provided.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I can't believe how stupid some can be... it still puzzles me as to why you would ruin your life with your own hand!? Don't believe me then read this story

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from UK

      You're welcome :)

    • penningl profile image


      11 years ago from U.S.

      Nice hub Izzy. Great information.

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from UK

      Probably - they are not called weeds for nothing LOL

      They will actualy grow anywhere and in really poor soil. All they require is sunshine, a bit of heat and some water. Oh and keep them hidden if you don't want your place broken into.

    • zbrown12 profile image


      11 years ago

      if i just planted 11 seeds, and tried to let them grow in my backyard, watering when necessary, would any grow?

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from UK

      Glad to hear that Annie. Seems there are a lot of medical conditions this drug helps. It's a pity most governments won't legalise it even for medical conditions - well except California I suppose.

    • profile image

      Annie M 

      11 years ago

      It's legal here for medicinal use. It does wonders for my depresion

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from UK

      You never know, but if they ever did legalise it, that would be the kind of motive behind it. They'd say it was to reduce crime or some such

      Thanks for commenting:)

    • fishtiger58 profile image


      11 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      It is illegal in the United States as well, can't help but wonder if they made it legal if that would help our huge national debt. Thanks for an interesting hub.

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from UK

      On a personal level, I don't even like it - I prefer a drink! (that's the Scot in me) but I do think it should be legalised for people with medical conditions because there seems to be no doubt this drug is more effective and has fewer side-effects than the majority of legal prescribed drugs on the market.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      11 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for sharing this interesting info. Growing this herb in South Africa is illegal, in spite of it having been grown here for centuries by the indigenous people. In fact, because of its illegality there is a massive underground trade in it which causes all sorts of problems. If only it would be legalised!

      Love and peace



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