Harvesting Cannabis

Now you know your cannabis history, you know the laws and you know how to grow. Maybe you even have some healthy cannabis plants growing at your home. Now what? 

Paul Witt of both Kief Cultivation Services and Blue Ridge Hydroponics will tell you even if you’ve done everything right up until this point, the cultivation process is where people can ruin the whole thing. 

If you’ve never harvested your own cannabis before you likely have a lot of questions. And Witt has your answers. 

As he explains it, when people start gardening in general, they have lots of friends and family who’ve done it before. It’s easy to ask for advice. Less so with the crop in question.

“A lot of people don’t want their neighbors to know.” Witt says with a grin. They’re hesitant to ask around because they’re afraid of judgement. 

Witt is discrete. There’s nothing on his truck that gives anything away to prying eyes. 

In conjunction with Kief Cultivation, Blue Ridge Hydroponics hosts classes where Witt teaches prospective growers all that they need to know about growing and harvesting, but sometimes people want a little extra help. When it gets down to the work of farming, it can be easier to learn when there is an experienced grower physically present. 

What Do I Do Once My Cannabis Is Fully Grown?

One of the biggest pitfalls people run into when it’s time to enjoy their crop is rushing it. Again, to compare it to the proverbial tomato, it’s not like you can just pick it off the vine and put it on a sandwich. There are 3 to 4 stages in the cannabis harvest process.

Harvesting Your Cannabis Buds

There are different ways to harvest your plants. Different growers have their preferences. You can pick the buds (blossoms), branches,  or even whole plants. Since cannabis is a determinate crop, you won’t be using the same plant to grow more buds.

Which method you choose might also depend on the weather. If you’re growing outdoors while it’s particularly hot and dry, Paul Witt recommends taking down the whole plant so that they dry at a steady rate. 

Drying Your Harvest

Generally speaking the drying process takes about 2 weeks. You ideally want to dry your plants at 60 degrees with 60 percent humidity. Don’t ruin the crop by rushing it! 

Once you can snap the stem, your blossoms are dry. 

Even after you dry your buds fully, it’s not yet time to partake. 

Burping Your Buds

The next step in the process is caused burping. To burp your buds, you place them in a container with some space for them to breath. Once a day open the lid and take them out to examine them.

You will likely notice that there is some moisture in them again.

What’s happening is that the deeper parts that didn’t yet dry are releasing their moisture to the more peripheral levels. 

When you open the container you’re allowing moisture once again to release. After a few minutes you can close the container again.

After repeating the burping each day, there will come a day when the moisture content seems to be a bout the same 2 days in a row. At that point your buds are ready. It usually takes about 2 weeks. 

Curing Your Cannabis

Now comes a choice.

At this point you can use your cannabis and many people do, but the weed connoisseurs recommend waiting and curing the your harvest. The longer it’s cured the more flavor the buds get. In fact, in cannabis competitions like the High Times Cannabis Cup, Weedcon Buyer’s Cup, and The Emerald Cup,  winning crops are typically cured for at least 6 months. 

Now, given that, sometimes you just don’t feel like waiting. So curing is optional. 

If you do choose to cure your harvest keep it in a dark, cool and dry place for the whole process.

Some people also use the smaller, less usable leaves around the blossom for making oils or other edibles. Currently, Virginia law does allow home growers to make cannabis concentrate which includes the use of edibles. Keep an eye on laws though as this may change. 

Going Forward

Throughout the Blue Ridge Hydroponics Blogs we’ve given you a primer on how you can grow your own cannabis, how things got to be the way they are and now what to do once it’s grown. 

Hopefully you feel like you’re more ready to grow your own cannabis than before reading but we know there is a lot more to see and know. 

Remember you can always come down to the store and ask questions or take one of our classes. 

And if you still want more hands-on help Paul Witt says “I like to think I’m pretty easy to work with.” 

The Long Road to Cannabis Prohibition

The Long Road to Cannabis Prohibition (and Back Again) Well, it’s here.

We have arrived in the first month of legalized cannabis in Virginia. For most of us old enough to now legally partake (like alcohol, that cutoff age is 21), this is an event that would have seemed unthinkable earlier in our lifetimes.

80s and 90s kids went through the DARE program, watched ominous ads of eggs frying representing our drugged brains, and almost certainly saw a character (but not a main one and probably one we’d never see again) on one of our favorite TV programs struggle with and eventually overcome the temptation of “weed” or “dope” with the help of a more major and somehow less morally corruptible main character.

In the 60 and 70s young people saw smoking marijuana as transgressive and rebellious and a way to “free your mind”. They went on to see some of the harshest prohibitive laws come into effect.

But oddly, cannabis spent a lot less time as illegal than it did as legal and a normal part of American life. So why does this seem so momentous and to some, even controversial?

Buckle up. This will be a long, strange trip. An Important Crop

In early colonial America, cannabis was an important crop. Hemp was a major textile and one of the main sources of fabric and rope for the colonists. Most reports agree that this was a different strain of cannabis than is produced for its THC today.

Hemp has always been a durable material and as such it was used for the sails and ropes in ship riggings and for creating (scratchy) clothing for the people farming it. Interestingly, right here in Virginia, in 1619 the General Assembly passed a law requiring farmers to devote a portion of their land to growing hemp because it was such a necessary crop.

Hemp was even used as currency in the Virginia Colony along with Maryland and Pennsylvania.

It wasn’t until the rise of cotton, which was understandably more popular as clothing fabric that hemp’s growth began to dwindle. After the Civil War, hemp had lost popularity as a textile.

A Drug Store Staple

The absence of hemp in American wardrobes and closets in the late 1800s and early 1900s did not mean a lack of cannabis in American life.

On the contrary, the THC heavier strain of cannabis that tends to get the most press today was already making a splash in our drugstores in the early 1800s.

Cannabis extract was used than for many of the same medicinal uses that doctors prescribe cannabis today – anxiety, nausea and lack of appetite.

Less common at the time (at least in this country) was the smoking of cannabis. The burning and smoking of cannabis had been present since at least the ancient Greeks but somehow never fully caught on in the US until the early 1900s.

A Blight on Our Communities

Once people started having fun, it was time to put things to an end.

So cannabis had been sewn into the literal and figurative fabric of the United States since the beginning. Later cannabis was a well-known and accepted part of life here – a way to relax and unwind through an over the counter candy or tincture. But then things changed. What changed then and why? Well, the answer, along with so many other answers in American history, is inseparable from racism.

A couple of events in the early 1900s led us to the prohibition of cannabis that has been its dominant thread in our lifetimes. These events were the Great Depression and the Mexican Revolution.

Due to the carnage of the Mexican Revolution, many immigrants had fled across the border to the United States to start new lives somewhere less war-torn. With new groups of people entering, come new customs and unfortunately fear.

Some of the Mexican immigrants introduced smoking what they called marihuana to the American population.

While Cannabis was well known in the US, marijuana was not. And since it was associated with a specific group of people, it was easy to demonize.

This was particularly true once the Great Depression hit.

When jobs are scarce, history shows that people turn on each other. And with people from Mexico here, they were an easy target. So a flurry of anti-immigration and anti-Mexican sentiment began. And with it came a dislike of a custom they had brought – marijuana.

The Murder Drug

From 1920 to 1933, alcohol prohibition was the law in the United States. Once the 21st Amendment was passed in 1933 we needed another boogeyman. And one that was readily available was Marijuana.

Harry Anslinger, head of the Narcotics Bureau from 1930 to 1962, with help from William Randolph Hearst and other sensationalist publishers used the association of marijuana with immigrants and later the lower classes and the black community to create a fear campaign. Anslinger himself wrote an article in 1937 for American Magazine entitled Marijuana, “Assassin of Youth.”

With subtle warnings like that it’s unsurprising that the same year the Marijuana Tax Act was passed. This law regulated and taxed Marijuana but also effectively criminalized it.

Anslinger and his supporters had little patience for naysayers like the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association who felt penalties were becoming too harsh or New York Mayor page3image12675584a

For years cannabis was then associated with crime and “the other.”

Cannabis Comes to Campus

In the 1960s pot began to be associated with a new subgroup – college students. The counter culture movement had actually begun before that in the 1950s with the beatniks but as America was now beginning to see white middle class young people partaking in the drug, a new familiarity with the cannabis was beginning.

Before anyone could get too comfortable though, the 70s came along. In 1970 Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act repealing the Marijuana Tax Act and making a marijuana a Schedule 1 drug, grouping it in with heroin as a drug with no medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Through the 80s the War on Drugs continued, Nancy Reagan said “Just Say No,” and the aforementioned informercials and “very special episodes” became prevalent. More seriously, millions of nonviolent people were sent to prison for marijuana possession.

More recently some American lawmakers have come to a reckoning. They say the harm that retributive laws have created for communities across the country, especially lower income and minority communities.page3image12675776

Fiorello LaGuardia

publishing findings that it was relatively harmless.

nd the New York Academy of Medicinepage3image12675968page3image12676160

The thought of a marijuana as a “murder drug” that caused people to go insane andpage3image12676352

commit heinous crimes is perhaps best exemplified in the infamous 1936 film Reeferpage3image12676544

Madness.

As a result, many states and localities, including Virginia have been passing cannabis legalization measures. We can hope this will continue and the people who have suffered from it will be able to live normal lives again.

For now, Virginians are living in a state that has legalized cannabis even if the country as a whole is not yet on the same page.

Is 7/1 the new 4/20?

Is 7/1 the new 4/20?

Unless you’ve been living on the dark side of the moon, you’re probably aware that Virginia’s possession laws are about to change. July 1 marks a major legal change for cannabis growers and users. But if you’re not getting your information from a reliable source, you could still land yourself in some trouble. 

You may be wondering whether you can grow cannabis, smoke it, sell it or buy it. The answers to most of those questions are “sometimes” and “it depends.” 

The laws are changing but nothing is straight forward just yet. You can grow pot, but you can’t sell it. Also you can’t buy seeds or cuttings to grow it. Oh, and you can’t transport it in from another state. How do you get it? Good question.

You can consume cannabis but not everywhere. You can have cannabis in your car but not in an open container. You think a sealed Ziploc bag or Tupperware container is closed? What about one inside of the other inside of a backpack? The answer in all cases is no! (It has to be in the unopened package from the supplier). 

Some of the new laws are pretty straightforward and sensible – the same sort of sobriety guidelines you see with alcohol such as those involving minors and driving. When you hear others you might find yourself wandering whether the lawmakers who crafted the legislation were doing some deep research on the subject during the crafting process. 

So with complicated laws and conflicting information coming from various sources, where do you go to sort all of this out? Well the same place where you’ve been sourcing all your information on growing “tomatoes” since 2004, your friendly neighborhood hydroponics shop, Blue Ridge Hydroponics.

Over the next couple of months we’re going to be running down all the information you need to know about the new cannabis laws in Virginia, what’s to come and what’s come before. We’ll let you know how we got to this place, what’s changing in the next few years, the history of cannabis growth and prohibition and what you can expect from Blue Ridge Hydroponics now and in the future. And along the way, we’re going to have some fun!

In the meantime Blue Ridge Hydroponics will be holding workshops in collaboration with Kief Cutivation Services to go over the new laws and teach you how to do your own growing on the following dates:

Thursday, July 1 at 6:30 PM

Sunday, July 11 at Noon

Sunday, July 18 at Noon

Come sign up in the store. Fees are $50 per workshop and a meal is included. All classes will run for about two hours. 

We’d love to see you there and we’d love for you to be a regular reader here. So if you have any suggestions for this trip we’re about to journey on together, let us know and we’ll be sure to address the subjects that are of the most interest to you. 

So comment below, come see us, follow closely and let’s get growing!