Gas station and convenience store chain Sheetz is probably best known for its massive selection of snacks and touchscreen ordering system.
Now, the chain is diving headfirst into the CBD craze. As announced by the company earlier today, Sheetz is now adding a full line of CBD products to its offerings.
Sheetz’s New CBD Lineup
The company made the announcement in a press release published today. As per the release, Sheetz has now started selling CBD products at 140 stores across Pennsylvania.
“We are excited to be the first convenience store to offer a broad selection of premium CBD products at this magnitude,” Ryan Sheets, AVP of Brand, said in the statement. “This is the next evolution for Sheetz in ensuring we are meeting the needs of our customers, giving them what they want, when they want it, 24/7/365.”
The company said its new CBD lineup will include a broad number of products. In particular, the lineup will feature “both isolate and full spectrum” CBD products.
Sheetz said it will now be selling the following items:
topicals, including rubs and patches
As per Pennsylvania and federal law, Sheetz stores will sell products that contain only CBD without any THC.
All CBD products sold at Sheetz stores will be stored behind the shelf. And to buy a CBD product from Sheetz, customers will need to show proof that they are at least 18 years old. Specifically, Sheetz requires some form of valid identification, whether it’s a driver’s license, passport, or military ID card.
Sheetz currently operates more than 580 stores at locations throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, and North Carolina. For now, the company is introducing CBD products exclusively to 140 stores in Pennsylvania.
CBD Attracting Big Name Companies
Sheetz’s rollout is the latest example of the ongoing CBD boom. In particular, it is the latest instance of large retail or food chains to explore the possibility of selling CBD products.
Similarly, snack company Mondelez recently announced that it is seriously thinking about entering the CBD market. Mondelez is best known for snacks including Oreo, Chips Ahoy, Nutter Butter, Cadbury chocolate, and Nilla Wafers.
Earlier this month, Mondelez representatives said they are thinking about introducing a new line of CBD-infused snacks.
The list of big-name companies beginning to explore CBD is continuing to grow, as companies like Vitamin Shoppe, Rite Aid, and many more begin rolling out new products that feature CBD.
As evidenced by all this, the CBD market has seen a marked increase in activity in recent months. Much of that is likely due to the passage of last year’s Farm Bill, which among many other changes, removed hemp from the list of Schedule I illegal substances and opened the door to a full-scale CBD market—as long as it’s CBD from hemp containing only trace amounts of THC.
The establishment of licensed cannabis retailers is not associated with negative impacts on local crime rates, adolescent use, or home values, according to a literature review published by Leafly.com.
Researchers at the website, in partnership with the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies at Humboldt State University, identified 42 papers specific to the community impact of cannabis storefronts.
They reported: “Crime near licensed dispensaries has generally stayed flat or decreased, teen cannabis use in legal states has fallen since legalization, and property values near cannabis outlets generally are not affected or, in some cases, experience a greater value increase than comparable properties not near a cannabis outlet. … Despite the fears of those who want to ban cannabis stores, the published research finds that legal retailers are safe, responsible neighbors.”
Authors acknowledged that false claims surrounding dispensaries continue to persist despite ample evidence to the contrary. The prevalence of such claims has led to local bans on the establishment of licensed retail facilities in many states. Specifically, in California, 75 percent of localities impose bans on the establishment of cannabis storefronts, while 65 percent of cities and counties in Colorado impose similar prohibitions.
Medical marijuana patients scored a tentative win on Wednesday when the Texas Senate passed a revised version of a house bill that would add several qualifying health conditions to the state’s requirements for access to medical cannabis.
Now individuals with all forms of epilepsy, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, ALS, terminal cancer, autism, and incurable neurodegenerative diseases would be able to access to the medicine with a doctor’s approval under House Bill 3703. Previously, the state’s Compassionate Use Program only allowed people with severe forms of epilepsy to access the drug. For all medical marijuana patients, the legislation cuts the requirement of two licensed neurologists for entry to the program in half.
“This bill is about compassion,” commented Senator and emergency room doctor Donna Campbell, who sponsored the bill at the Senate level and who made clear during floor discussion of the legislation that she is not in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. “For patients participating in the [Compassionate Use Program], they have had a remarkable and life-altering change because of this. That’s compassion.”
To many marijuana advocacy groups’ surprise, the Senate passed the bill unanimously — but not without making some significant changes to its scope. The new version of the bill maintains a restrictive .5 percent cap on THC levels in medical marijuana products, in addition to its smoking ban, and gets rid of a provision for the establishment of a research program that would investigate the medical efficacy of cannabis.
Not all marijuana legislation has been so lucky in the Texas Senate as of late. In April, a House-approved bill to partially decriminalize small-scale cannabis possession was pronounced dead by Senate President Dan Patrick — though the city of Dallas has recently taken its own step to overhaul its legal system in terms of how it deals with such crimes.
HB 1325, which would authorize hemp farming, is currently being revised by the Senate after being passed in the House last month. The Senate has been quite vocal about opposing any steps towards the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.
Campbell’s revision of the medical marijuana expansion bill also eliminates PTSD as a qualifying condition for the Compassionate Use Program based on her assertions that the scientific data to back up its use in such treatment is lacking. The change was questioned on the Senate floor, but ultimately was not seen by a roadblock by the senators that voted for the legislation.
“I hope — I hope — that we can get the definitive research necessary to be able to include PTSD, traumatic brain injury and those other illnesses that are very difficult to measure,” said Campbell, despite having cut out one such potential program for such research in her draft of the bill.
Now, the legislation goes back to the House five days before its session adjourns. Representatives will have to decide whether they want to negotiate the Senate’s changes in a conference committee, or accept its revisions.
The administration of THC enhances the analgesic effects of oxycodone, according to preclinical data published in the journal Neuropharmacology.
A team of investigators at The Scripps Research Institute in California assessed the efficacy of THC and oxycodone in a group of female and male rats. Researchers reported that the co-administration of both substances produced greater pain-relieving effects than the administration of either substance alone.
They concluded, “Together these data demonstrate the additive effects of THC and oxycodone and suggest the potential use of THC to enhance therapeutic efficacy, and to reduce the abuse, of opioids.”
Clinical data published last year by Columbia University researchers similarly reported that the co-administration of inhaled cannabis and sub-therapeutic doses of oxycodone produces enhanced analgesic effects in human subjects. Authors stated that the results highlighted “the opioid-sparing effects of cannabis.”
In jurisdictions where marijuana is legally available, patients frequently acknowledge reducing their use of conventional medications, specifically opioids and benzodiazepines, after initiating cannabis therapy.
Today’s headlines are brought to you by our friends over at Eaze.com, California’s top one stop website for legal marijuana delivery. If you live in the golden state, swing over to Eaze.com to see if they are active in your area. With deliveries taking place in less than an hour, it’s never been easier to get legal California marijuana delivery. And of course, if you don’t live where Eaze delivers, you can still benefit from all the useful bits of industry insight and analysis they’ve developed using their properly aggregate and anonymized sales data stream.
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En el pasado, la industria de la cerveza artesanal ha expresado su preocupación de que el cannabis legal se convierta en un gran competidor. Pero a medida de que más lugares continúan aceptando las leyes sobre el cannabis, los expertos están empezando a ver cómo la legalización afecta a otras industrias. Y resulta que la marihuana en realidad, no es una amenaza para la cerveza. De hecho, los líderes en la industria de la cerveza artesanal ahora dicen que los teléfonos inteligentes y las aplicaciones de citas son probablemente una amenaza mayor para la cerveza artesanal que la marihuana legal.
La industria de la cerveza está preocupada por los teléfonos inteligentes y las aplicaciones de citas
Según informes provenientes de la Brewers Association y Beverage Daily, están surgiendo nuevas actitudes y perspectivas en la escena de la cerveza artesanal. Más específicamente, menos expertos en la industria de la cerveza artesanal ven el cannabis como una amenaza para su negocio.
En los últimos años, muchos pensaron que la marihuana legal podría reducir las ventas de cerveza. El supuesto era que los consumidores podían optar por comprar hierba legal en lugar de cerveza para el ocio y el consumo recreativo.
Pero hasta ahora, ese miedo ha resultado infundado. De hecho, la Asociación de Cerveceros recientemente dijo que los datos de lugares legales no han mostrado una disminución pronunciada en las ventas de cerveza artesanal. “Aunque hay un montón de rumores referentes a este tema. . . hasta la fecha, hay poca evidencia de que el cannabis haya afectado las ventas de cerveza “, escribió la organización recientemente.
Pero parece que otros productos en lugar de hierba podrían comenzar a morder la línea de fondo de la cerveza artesanal. Actualmente, se informa que un número creciente de expertos en el sector de la cerveza están llegando a ver que los teléfonos inteligentes, y especialmente las aplicaciones de citas, son la amenaza potencialmente mayor para la cerveza artesanal.
“Consideramos el cannabis como un producto más que los consumidores de cerveza pueden elegir con sus ingresos disponibles, al igual que el vino, los licores”, dijo a Beverage Daily Bob Pease, presidente y director ejecutivo de Brewers Association.
“Creemos que el iPhone es una amenaza mayor en estos momentos, probablemente, para la cerveza que para el cannabis. Solías salir a conocer gente, salir a un bar. . . ahora simplemente desliza el dedo en tu teléfono, no necesitas ir a ningún lado. Todo esto es solo una parte de la sociedad en evolución. “Los consumidores pueden elegir disfrutar con sus ingresos disponibles, al igual que el vino, los licores”, dijo a Beverage Daily Bob Pease, presidente y director ejecutivo de la Brewers Association.
Existen compañías de cerveza entrando al mercado de la marihuana legal
Curiosamente, las cambiantes actitudes de la industria de la cerveza artesanal van más allá del simple hecho de que ya no temen a la marihuana legal. Ahora, es cada vez más común que las compañías de cerveza vean al cannabis como una oportunidad en lugar de un competidor.
Hasta ahora, esto incluye la posibilidad de asociarse con compañías de cannabis para crear nuevas líneas de bebidas. Además, las compañías de cerveza han realizado importantes inversiones en el espacio legal del cannabis.
Estas son algunas de las compañías de cerveza más grandes que se han cambiando a la industria legal de la marihuana hasta el momento:
Molson Coors anunció recientemente sus planes para crear una línea de bebidas sin alcohol con infusión de cannabis. En este proyecto, la división de Molson Coors en Canadá se asociará con la compañía canadiense de cannabis The Hydropothecary Corp.
Two Roots Brewing Co. lanzó recientemente una línea de cervezas artesanales con infusión de cannabinoides, sin alcohol, en Nevada.
Constellation Brands, el propietario de Corona y Modelo, compró una participación del 9,9 por ciento en la compañía de cannabis masiva Canopy Growth Corp.
En 2017, la cervecera artesanal Lagunitas lanzó una cerveza de marihuana llamada SuperCritical.
Green Thumb Industries Inc. (“GTI” or the “Company”) (CSE: GTII) (OTCQX: GTBIF), a leading national cannabis consumer packaged goods company and owner of the retail chain Rise™, today announced the Company has closed on a USD $105 million Senior Secured non-brokered private placement financing through the issuance of senior secured notes (the “Notes”). The Company intends to use the proceeds for general working capital purposes, various growth initiatives, as well as to retire the Company’s existing debt.
“Strategic capital allocation is fundamental to the business and this financing strengthens our balance sheet at an attractive cost of capital for our business and shareholders,” said GTI Founder and CEO Ben Kovler. “We are well-positioned to capitalize on the attractive market opportunities in front of us. The proceeds will fuel our aggressive growth plans for faster route-to-market in key markets like New Jersey, as well as pursue expansion opportunities that broaden the reach of our brand portfolio.”
The Notes have a maturity date of May 22nd, 2022 and will bear interest from the date of issue at 12% per annum, payable quarterly, with an option, at the discretion of the Company, to extend an additional 12 months. The financing permits the Company to borrow an additional $45 million over the next six months.
The purchasers of the Notes also received 1,822,771 warrants (the “Warrants”). Each Warrant is exercisable to purchase one subordinate voting share of GTI at an exercise price of CDN$19.39 per share, for a period of 60 months from the date of issue.
Certain insiders participated in the financing, purchasing an aggregate of less than $1 million of the issued notes. Pursuant to Multilateral Instrument 61-101 – Protection of Minority Security Holders in Special Transactions(“MI 61-101”), such insider participation is a “related party transaction.” The Company is exempt from certain requirements of MI 61-101 in connection with the insider participation in reliance on section 5.5(b) of MI 61-101, as no securities of the Company are listed or quoted for trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ stock market or any other stock exchange outside of Canada and the United States, and section 5.7(1)(a) of MI 61-101, as the aggregate value of the insider participation does not exceed 25% of the market capitalization of the company.
About Green Thumb Industries: Green Thumb Industries (GTI), a national cannabis consumer packaged goods company and retailer, is dedicated to providing dignified access to cannabis while giving back to the communities in which they serve. GTI manufactures and distributes a portfolio of branded cannabis products including Rythm, Dogwalkers, The Feel Collection, and Beboe, among others. The company also owns and operates a rapidly growing national chain of retail cannabis stores called Rise™. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, GTI has 11 manufacturing facilities, licenses for 77 retail locations and operations across 12 U.S. markets. Established in 2014, GTI employs approximately 800 people and serves thousands of patients and customers each year. GTI was named a Best Workplace 2018 by Crain’s Chicago Business. More information is available at GTIgrows.com.
Are you ready to get wet, hot, and steamy this summer? We just experienced the transformative release of the Full Moon in Scorpio, and now we’re inching closer and closer to the peak of the year on the Summer Solstice on June 21st. Spring has sprung, and now we’re officially in Gemini season, the air sign represented by the glyph of the twins. This is a season of creativity, communication, collaboration, union, and expansion, where we get to embrace the freedom of air and its need to transform.
For this installment of the High Priestess, I was inspired by my current muses: the elements. Earth, air, fire, water, and spirit exist in nearly every spiritual tradition in some form. These elements speak of the physical, natural world around us, as well as of the subtle, spiritual world. The elements teach us of finding grounding, presence, compassion, and passion. Luckily enough, we can connect to all of this wisdom through cannabis.
For this column, I had the pleasure of interviewing the CannaSexual® and sex and relationship coach Ashley Manta about how plant medicine can lead us deeper into discovering the magick of the elements. Besides actively sharing the ways in which Cannabis can improve our sex lives, Ashley is also a practicing witch and a Taurus, so you know that she talks the talk and walks the walk of all things Venusian and pleasure. In this column, we talk about what each of the elements can teach us, and receive CannaSexual approved mantras as well as simple rituals you can practice connect even further with these energies.
We all connect to the element of earth every day. This element is the physical; the flowers we smell, the ground we walk on, the cannabis we’re smoking. Not only is earth all about Mother Nature herself, but this element also speaks to all of the things that keep us safe, grounded and protected. The element of earth represents the things we have in our lives as well; the objects we keep, our home, our relationships (since these too exist in the physical vessel of a human being). And in our case specifically, the element of Earth is represented by cannabis herself. The element of earth IS cannabis, the Green Ganja Goddess, Gaia, Mother Nature, or whatever other name you call her.
Ashley, who moonlights as a “botanical ambassador”, shares that for her, connecting with the element of earth means being grateful and physically honoring the cannabis plant.
“Even before I start to put the cannabis into the bowl or bong or whatever I’m smoking out of, I just hold the flower in my hands and inhale and I regard it and honor it,” she explains. “Not only the grower that brought it to cultivation but the people who are still sitting in jail who have had this plant used against them because we live in this systematic culture of racism and oppression, especially against black and brown people, so [earth is] being aware and really honoring that.”
Earth is safety and when we tend to the roots, we tend to the flowers. Connecting to the element of earth through cannabis means returning to our bodies and cross-pollinating—doing what we can in the physical to fight these systems of injustice; we help ourselves and then help others.
How to Connect With The Earth: Ground
Ashley and I both have the same grounding visualization, one that is simple and that you can use whenever you want to connect to the earth.
To begin, take a moment to breathe into your body. Imagine roots moving from the base of your spine, deep into the earth. These vines draw up golden energy to your sacral chakra, where your pelvis is, pulling this nourishing light into this space, “releasing all the shame, all the toxic bullshit into it. A beautiful symbiotic relationship that really helps us so much” Ashley explains.
Mantra for Earth:
I follow the path of cross pollination; as I grow and flourish, I help other people grow and flourish.
If Earth is the first thing we think of because it is the cannabis plant herself, then air and smoke are surely the second. Air is the element of presence, of expansion, freedom, and expression. It is the reign of the mind, of the intellect. Air is also the breath, our connection to our bodies, our personal purification system. Air reminds us to be our fullest self.
“Air helps me remember to take up space, that it’s okay and good and healthy. I don’t have to be small and unobtrusive,” Ashley shares. “Cannabis helps me get out of my head, it helps me quite those voices that have been telling me my whole life that ‘you’re too much, you’re being too ridiculous, you’re being too sexual.’”
As we take the time to prepare ourselves to take a hit from our bong, bowl, joint or whatever else, we can work with the element of air to be embodied in the moment. As we exhale and release what’s keeping us small, we make way to fully inhale all the present. Our spirits follow the path of our bodies taking up as much space as possible. Air can also mean we’re intensely aware as we smoke. Instead of heaving the television on and doing this passively, maybe you really take the time to honor each step of the process, of smoking, of feeling your air fill with lungs.
How to Connect With Air: Breathwork
We can return to our breath whenever we need to return to the present moment. And we can connect to this element when we’re getting stoned with our favorite plant by smoking with some intention.
For this exercise you’re going to be breathing consciously. For Ashley, this means that the prep work begins before she starts smoking, for her it’s all about “remembering to empty out my lungs fully, contract my belly, and then inhale fully from the diaphragm [as I smoke].” Filling your lungs up with air in this way will also get you higher which is a plus. You may also wish to experiment with different breathing techniques like the four-fold breath, where you inhale, hold, exhale and hold before beginning again.
Mantra for Air:
I am fully expressed; I don’t have to hide or present a more palatable version of who I am. I am safe to be my fullest self.
For many of us, one of the perks of being high is being in “the flow.” That ability to let go and be completely chill. Water is the realm of the subconscious, of the emotions, of the spiritual, of the subtle. This is soul-level stuff, the feeling of being cared for, held, and nurtured. And Ashley reminds us that water, like the ocean herself, is incredibly powerful and not to be messed with. While air gives us the freedom to take up space and spread as beautifully as smoke does, water gives us the ability to feel the depth of our emotions. Water shares with us the gift of being multidimensional humans, with light, shadows, brilliance and darkness, which as Ashley puts so beautifully “is really what makes us so interesting and dynamic as humans.”
Connecting with the element of water can be as simple as putting water in your bong or as intentional as spending time by a body of water like a lake or ocean. It can be taking time to take to a partner before you smoke together, which is what Ashley and her partner call “emotional intimacy as foreplay.” Having deep and vulnerable conversations as you smoke can be a really personal way to relate to someone else through the element of water, which is associated with the heart and love, and can also lead to some fiery and steamy moments. Water wants us to connect, to feel, to emote, to create. Cannabis naturally guides us into this realm of conscious creativity and vulnerability, and we can embrace the element of water to understand this more deeply.
How to Connect with Water: Smoke by the Ocean
Ashley’s happy place is smoking cannabis by the ocean, especially at sunset, and this is always a recommendation, but smoking near a body of water or in a bathtub is good enough. If you like smoking out of a bong, you may wish to leave some water under the New or Full Moon for 4-6 waters to keep and use as blessed bong water. The Moon is associated with the subtle and emotional body, the divine feminine and the heart. Moon water can be used to cleanse, purify and embed something with the Moon’s energy.
Mantra for Water:
I release all the shit that I hold on to that’s too much for me. I release what no longer serves me and I give it to the ocean.
Fire is steamy, it’s passionate, it’s lustful and primal. Fire is power and purpose. It’s also alchemy, and the reason we even get high. “When you light the plant matter, specifically cannabis, the spark, the fire is what turns THCA to Delta9 THC, which is what causes the intoxicating or high effect,” Ashley shares. “In its non-heated form in the flower, it’s THCA; which is why if you were to eat cannabis, you wouldn’t get high.” The fire itself it turns out, is what transmutes the flower and gives us the euphoric feeling of being high.
Fire represents that which lights us up. It’s the actions we take to make our dreams a reality. It’s our sexuality, our desires, what turns us on. Fire is that which allows us to experience altered states, that which allows us to transcend. Through fire we return to the core, the match, the brightest possible expression of our fullest power. Fire is what gets us to places we’ve always dreamed of. It’s the energy of the big bang, of orgasms, of anger channeled into passion. Fire is what burns away what no longer serves us while fortifying what does.
How to Connect with Fire: Sex Magick
For Ashley, cannabis is one of the biggest cornerstones of how she connects to fire and sexuality, how she deepens her awareness and access to her energetic power. She does this through sex magick, which I’ve written about before for this column!
First she sets the scene energetically and physically, dimming lights and putting on a playlist that makes her feel powerful. Then she sets an intention for her ritual before she takes a hit from her bong (since it unites all the elements at once.) “I’ll pack my bowl, and set my intention and think about what I want this experience to be like for me. I’ll call any guides, angels, archetypes, ascended masters, bring in the dream team and as something sexy comes on [the playlist] I’ll smoke naked in front of the mirror.”
To experiment with this, stand in front of the mirror and move your body, seducing yourself. Make eye contact with yourself (this is crucial) and then when you’re ready take yourself to bed. Here, you’ll masturbate and as you climax, you’ll send this energy to the intention you set before you began smoking.
Mantra for Fire:
I seduce myself. I leave room for my intention or something better.
Spirit is the connection through it all. It’s the intention we set, the fire we use to set the spark, the air we inhale into our lungs, and the emotional shift we experience as the high sets in. Spirit is our ability to think, feel, grow, receive and love. It’s the thread connecting earth, air, fire, and water. In our case, you could think of spirit as being high, as the feeling of being in an altered state. This is when we receive downloads, insight, healing. Spirit is the plant medicine in action.
This element is less tangible than the others because it’s the negative space and dark matter that connects everything else. We can’t see it but we can experience it. Connect with each element as you smoke and then feel the effects of the spell you’ve just performed. What does your favorite sort of high feel like? What does it change about the way you feel—about yourself, life, the universe, connection, god whatever it is?
Personally, I feel a sense of gratitude and understanding when I’m stoned. Like, the world just reveals herself to me and I don’t have to try so hard to understand. Spirit means balance means finding grounding as I grow, tapping into my emotions even in my fullest moments of passion. Spirit is the feeling of being high on a spring day under the sun. It’s magick, and it’s something that you experience to understand.
How to Connect to Spirit: Work with a Tarot or Oracle Deck
Ashley and I both share an affinity for pulling a card before any sort of smoking ritual. You may choose to pull something from the 78-cards of the classic tarot deck, or an oracle deck. Take a moment to breathe, get clear with your intention before you shuffle and then pull a card. Write down any insight or messages you have and repeat the following mantra to help you tap into the cards wisdom
Mantra for Spirit:
I create space for ancestors, guides, benevolent beings, and the universe to connect with me through intuitive wisdom.
No matter how you connect to cannabis, or earth, air, fire, water or spirit, I hope that you have the time to honor whatever feels delicious to you. As always, enjoy the high and tune in the week after next for another installment of the High Priestess. And don’t forget to check out my lovely and sexy guest, the CannaSexual and her work.
And this month, we’re continuing the support of National Bail Out, which seeks to help incarcerated moms get back to their families. You can support them by reading about their mission here and donating here.
The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) has been lobbying members of Congress to support sensible cannabis legislation for almost a decade now. This week NCIA members from all over the nation traveled to Washington D.C. for NCIA’s 9th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days.
It is truly inspiring to see so many talented people advocating so passionately for cannabis reform. If you are one of those people I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart! If you would like to get in on the action, I encourage you to become an NCIA member and attend what will be the 10th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days May 19-21, 2020! Below is a video recap of the first day of NCIA Lobby Days 2019:
Johnny Green is a cannabis activist from Oregon. Johnny has a bachelor’s degree in public policy, and believes that the message should always be more important than the messenger. #LegalizeIt #FreeThePlant
Another year flashes by and we arrive back to the annual “High Times Hydro Report”—a place of learning for those interested in growing crops of buds without soil and for those already eyeball deep into cannabis water culture.
Why Grow in Water?
Say what? Of course plants need water. Yes, but they don’t need soil! In hydroponics, an inert growing medium—if any is used at all—replaces the soil. All of the necessary elements or nutrients that a cannabis plant uses to complete its life cycle are supplied in a nutrient solution.
The word “hydroponics” is from ancient Greece, and it literally translates to “growing with water,” or, in this case, with a nutrient solution.
There are plenty of advantages to growing with water. Here are just a few.
Increased Oxygen Levels for Roots
Cannabis roots love oxygen, and the more they can get via dissolved oxygen (DO) and ambient levels, the faster and bigger the plants will grow. Modern growers are just beginning to unlock the potential of increased O2 levels and are making some amazing discoveries. For example, crops can grow bigger with less fertilizer when they have higher O2 levels at the roots.
Furthermore, the aerial portion (the upper green parts) of the crop can still grow and thrive in less-than-perfect conditions (e.g., high humidity in a greenhouse) when there is more O2 for the roots.
Note that a nutrient solution can hold considerably more oxygen than soil or a grow substrate, which makes growing with a water a natural choice for amping up O2 to supercharge crops of heavy and healthy buds—naturally!
Thermodynamics for Efficiency
Water, the main component of a hydroponic nutrient solution, is a much better conductor for heating and cooling than air. That’s why most combustion engines are liquid-cooled instead of air-cooled—fluids do a better job of trapping and transferring temperature differences between the engine and the air.
It is far less efficient to cool or heat the air in an environment like a greenhouse or growroom than it is to cool or heat a nutrient solution. In reality, the plants don’t care what the air temperature is; they care what their core temperature is—the leaf temperature.
Think of sinking your feet into a cool stream on a hot summer day—or placing a cold cloth on your forehead if you are feverish. This does a great job of cooling your whole body by lowering your core temperature. It’s the same thing for cannabis plants: If you cool or heat the nutrient solution that the roots are immersed in, you effectively raise or lower the temperature of the whole plant. This keeps photosynthesis humming along when it may otherwise slow or halt due to warm or cold air temperatures.
Eliminate or Lower Replacement Costs Between Crops
Lugging out old root-balls of dirt or medium from previous crops is messy and costly, to say the least. Furthermore, there are costs associated with disposal and replacement—and these will occur every time you want to replant. With hydroponic methods like NFT, DWC/RDWC, aeroponics, etc. (see “The ABCs of Cannabis Hydroponics Systems” below), there is essentially little to no growing medium to replace; the plants only require mechanical support, as the roots are actually growing in the nutrient solution. This means that a five-foot-round bush might only need as much growing medium, like grow rocks, as would fit in a large-size soda-fountain cup. Compare that to a 20-gallon nursery pot then multiply by the number of plants and you may quickly realize the benefits here. Besides the cost of materials, this means a fast crop turnaround between harvest and planting. The system can be drained, scrubbed and replanted within hours instead of the days required by traditional methods, with very little if anything at all to haul away and dispose of.
Hydroponic System Basics: Recirculating vs. Drain-to-Waste
These are the two basic classifications of hydroponic systems. A recirculating system can also be referred to as an active system. Here, the nutrient solution is reused, circulating through cannabis-plant roots via an active water pump or air pump.
When water falls or moves through the air, it absorbs oxygen. A further benefit of recirculating systems is that they conserve water and fertilizer, reducing the environmental footprint of any cannabis garden. Note a well-sealed (covered) recirculating hydroponic system uses around 50 percent less water than is used in conventional soil growing and irrigation methods (watch dirt growers squirm a bit when you talk about water use).
Drain-to-waste hydroponic systems may still use a water or air pump to distribute the nutrient solution; however, the main difference here is that the solution is not recaptured back into a reservoir after reaching the plant roots and then reused. After each irrigation cycle, the nutrient solution is collected as waste. Thoughtful growers will find other uses for spent nutrient solution, such as irrigating orchards where trees or shrubs are happy to drink up the extra water and nutrients.
The ABCs of Cannabis Hydroponics Systems
In an aeroponic system (the method was pioneered in Israel for performance and water conservation by Dr. Hillel Soffer), plant roots are sealed underneath a light-tight lid, with the upper part of the plant exposed to light. The bare plant roots are intermittently or continuously sprayed with a nutrient-solution mist.
One of the advantages of aeroponics is a very fast growth rate due to the large surface area generated by misting roots, which spurs oxygen absorption. A drawback is that misters are subject to clogging without lots of care and attention.
There are countless variations on the drip-system setup. Essentially, individual plants are irrigated via top feeding of nutrient solution at the base of each plant with “spaghetti” tubing, usually around a quarter-inch diameter. The spaghetti tubing is typically connected to a wider-diameter tube that is supplied by a pump from a reservoir or injector system with gate valves. These systems can be operated as recirculating or drain-to-waste. A bucket system is a type of drip system, as are drip trays (or modified flood tables—see below).
The advantages of the drip system include very precise moisture management with timers or sensors. This system can also easily be scaled up or down depending on how many plants you may have in the garden area at any given time. Clogged emitters or lines are a disadvantage, as are the routine inspections required to make sure they are flowing freely to the thirsty cannabis plants they are supplying.
Deep-Water Culture (DWC)
This is perhaps the first modern hydroponic growing method, and it’s still widely used today. When using this method, a plant is supported by a collar or net pot in a light-tight container, like a black bucket or tote with a sturdy lid. A depth of nutrient solution is maintained just below the bottom of the net cup or stem supported by the collar. The nutrient solution is aerated or “bubbled” by an air pump (aquarium air pumps and stones are often used).
DWC has the advantage of being very inexpensive and easy to set up. Its drawback is that the air stones or bubblers don’t draw much oxygen into the system.
Flood & Drain (or Ebb & Flo)
In this system, shallow water-tight trays with grooves in the bottom leading to a drain/fill hose connection holds grow cubes, slabs or pots (sometimes trays are simply filled with medium). Beneath the supported flood table is a reservoir containing nutrient solution with a pump and timer connected to the fill/drain hose. Periodically, the pump fills the tray with a shallow depth of nutrient solution, fertigating the cannabis crop. When the pump shuts off, the solution drains back through the hose and into the reservoir, drawing fresh air into the growing medium for the roots.
The main advantage with this system is that it can be forgiving with power outages, inexperienced hydro-system management and other missteps. There are very few moving parts here for an active system. Its main disadvantage is that larger amounts of inert growing medium are usually required for its operation than in other systems.
Nutrient Film/Flow Technique (NFT)
Pioneered in the United Kingdom, NFT is a well-proven and widely adapted system favored by commercial veggie and fruit growers all over the world. The basic concept utilizes shallow troughs or channels with lids (or as one-piece tubes) that have holes drilled or punched on top, usually at a fairly close spacing, arranged on a gentle slope. At the high end of the trough, a nutrient-solution emitter (such as spaghetti tubing) delivers a continuous flow of nutrient solution.
The solution flows as a shallow film down the length of the channel across plant roots, drawing air into the solution. The plants are placed into the channel through the holes on the top of the tube or lid. At the lower end, the solution is captured and redirected back to a reservoir, where it is pumped back to the high end of the system for continuous recirculation via emitters.
This method’s advantage is that a large-scale system can be set up easily and quickly, as there are few parts to contend with. Furthermore, the system can be very productive, and it’s well suited for mechanization.
Some might find the higher planting density (which is best for shorter plants) to be a disadvantage, and if there is a power outage there won’t be much nutrient solution in the root zone to keep plants sustained for significant periods of time.
Recirculating Deep-Water Culture (RDWC)
A modernized and amped version of the DWC system, RDWC takes advantage of all the proven principles of DWC and adds the otherwise missing recirculation component. While that’s an oversimplified way of putting it, recirculating the solution greatly improves crop performance and the practical layout potential of the system, making it highly suited to commercial-scale cannabis growing. The amount of dissolved oxygen (DO) that can be achieved in a RDWC setup is very tough to beat. Oftentimes, growers are able to run their RDWC systems with quarter-strength nutrients while still growing huge and lush cannabis plants compared with conventional nutrient-solution concentrations due to the superior DO levels achieved.
Important Terms & Principles in Hydroponics
Dissolved oxygen refers to the level of oxygen that has been dissolved into the nutrient solution that is available to plant roots. Cannabis plants thrive in aerobic (oxygen-rich) conditions. Anaerobic conditions, those lacking oxygen, can be detrimental and promote poor nutrient absorption and increase the potential for root rot.
Electrical conductivity, which also is the base value for readings like total dissolved solids (TDS, measured in parts per million, or PPM), refers to the fertility load or potential that is measured within the nutrient solution. For example, the more soluble fertilizer you add to the solution, the higher the value becomes.
pH is a measurement that refers to the relative acidity or alkalinity of substance, in this case a hydroponic nutrient solution. Different nutrients are more available at different pH levels, so it’s important than an optimal range, or “sweet spot,” is maintained. Usually a pH of 5.8 to 6.2 is good for most hydroponic garden types.
To get an idea of where hydroponic technology is heading and what it means for growing cannabis in the days to come, we caught up with some of the leading minds involved in the field.
Christian Long, co-founder and co-developer of Current Culture H2O (cch2o.com) Under Current systems and related technologies, had a few new tools to share that are now available to growers as well as some insights into what the future of growing buds with water culture may hold.
For the everyday hydroponic grower using recirculating reservoirs or applying aeration to systems via air pumps, CCH2O’s new AirReg and Add Back Kit are very useful tools in getting the most out of your hydro system.
The AirReg Kit allows growers to create a measurable amount of aeration through their systems with a bleeder, valve and gauge (measured in inches of water). What’s significant here is that anything over 25 on the dial means that you could actually be oxidizing nutrients—too little and you may not be getting all the air to your cannabis roots that they can use. The Add Back Kit uses a venturi injector that works with any water pump rated at over 500 gallons per hour. Instead of dumping pH adjusters or nutrient concentrates into the system, which can shock plants, the kit provides an attachment to your system pump that siphons up concentrates and adds them to the system at a steady and gradual rate that you control. It’s very handy and does not require any additional power.
Long was very excited to talk about CCH2O’s automatic dosing system. The new doser can be preprogrammed to grow perfect cannabis crops, using ratios and values the company has researched and developed over many years with the help of growers from around the world. The programming adds the right amount of each component in the Cultured Solutions feeding program at the right times. No more guessing what’s optimal or trying to remember how much of what part you added the time before—this keeps your hydro system dialed in 24/7 to optimal pH, EC and ORP (oxidation reduction potential) levels.
SOPs (standard operating procedures) are a big deal with the new generation of legally sanctioned cannabis mega-producers; they are essentially the “playbooks” for their grows. Some of the trends that are emerging and undergoing further development from industry leaders like CCH2O and EZ-Clone incorporate SOPs into technologies like controllers used to run these cannabis mega-farms.
Here’s some of what Billy Blackburn, CEO of EZ- Clone who recently joined forces with GrowLife Inc. and is also now heading GrowLife product development, had to say on the subject:
“While SOPs are invaluable to professional growers, there still needs to be a level of thinking and intelligence making the day-to-day or even moment-to-moment decisions that affect the growing environment.
“For example, when growing on a large scale, consistency is really important—something we know very well in developing aeroponic systems that automate and speed up the cloning process. That’s why we are working with experts in their respective fields in developing controls and sensors for grows that allow us to give them a level of thinking or intelligence—AI [artificial intelligence], more specifically.
“Taking years’ worth of data based on real cannabis growing and incorporating that into how a controller behaves or makes decisions in a complex growing environment is now emerging over the horizon and we are really excited to be a part of that—empowering cannabis growers of every scale to produce the best crops possible while freeing up some of their time and lessening the worry or risk in their endeavors.”
As part of the SOP growing trend, EZ Clone’s Commercial Pro System can be supplied with a comprehensive SOP guide to cloning and mother plants—we are talking about stuff far beyond the basic and rudimentary here. For example, how to avoid creating genetic drift in your valued genetics that may occur over time with successive cloning, and what percentage of a mother plant is acceptable to cut for cloning and how often. The SOP guide will help you quickly understand and utilize information that took many years of hands-on experience and feedback from countless cannabis propagators to develop.
While hydroponics is not a new technology, there are exciting and new technologies from other fields that are crossing the stream and finding their way into growing hydroponic crops of buds—better, stronger, faster!