Excerpt from Ed Rosenthal's 'Cannabis Grower's Handbook': Why Grow Cannabis?

In the garden with Ed Rosenthal and his new book, "Cannabis Grower’s Handbook."

Ed Rosenthal's latest book, the 738-page Cannabis Grower's Handbook (Quick American Publishing, 2021), tops off his long career as an activist and cultivation expert, which earned him the title, "Guru of Ganja." In this excerpt, he answers the question, "Why Grow Cannabis?"


Why Grow Cannabis?

People choose to grow cannabis for many reasons. The majority grow because they want the satisfaction of smoking the fruits of their own labor. Some are interested in experiencing new varieties with new ranges of aromas, tastes and effects. Some will grow to make money.

Caregivers cultivate for patients, They perform a needed service that is not provided by traditional medical providers.

Medical patients grow to maintain a fresh, reliable supply with specific qualities. In areas where there are no legal dispensaries, patients are simply stuck with what they can get. Some patients grow their medicine because they require a large supply. A personal garden is far less expensive than purchasing a finished product, and it allows growers to be cultivar specific.

Another good reason to begin a garden is just for the joy of gardening. There are few things as satisfying as nurturing a healthy plant. Some people may choose to add cannabis to their kitchen garden. It might be small, on a windowsill or balcony, or larger in a backyard or indoor garden.

Just as with home-grown produce, gardeners find home-grown cannabis to be the best. Once new growers pick up the hobby, they may wish to experiment. Cannabis is fun to grow because it responds quickly to environmental changes and has separate sexes. By regulating the life cycle to force flowering earlier, growers can adjust the plant's growth to better fit the garden lifestyle and schedule. 

Many consumers or new hobby gardeners may have never grown plants for consumption or seen a vital, productive garden up close. Growing produce is a fascinating, awe-inspiring experience. Think of the plants as a totally alien life form that are a portion of Gaia - the Living Planet.

"Some people decide to accept cannabis into their lives quickly after first interacting with it, even so much so that they make it a career." 

After incorporating portions of photosynthesizing bacteria into their cells, photosynthesizers helped transform most of the atmosphere's carbon dioxide to oxygen. They developed cohabitational relationships with animals, which are almost totally dependent on them for food. Without plants, no animals.

One fascinating aspect is how plants adapt to their environment. Animals have a nervous system to sense the environment and mobility to deal with danger. Plants are immobile and depend on a different set of biochemical and electrical cues to sense the environment and react to it. Plants have a much larger set of genes than animals, so they are hardwired with responses to many environmental stresses and opportunities.

One might find it hard to relate to them as living beings, but their reaction to environmental cues can be as instantaneous as a human's reaction to pain. For instance, the moment they receive light, they start photosynthesizing. Step back once in a while to watch the plants and feel the vibrancy of their life and existence. 

Some people decide to accept cannabis into their lives quickly after first interacting with it, even so much so that they make it a career. Until recently, guidance counselors could not refer to such a career under penalty of law.

The cannabis industry has flourished since the 1960s, and as a result there are now third- and fourth-generation family members in the business.

And then there are the addicts. No, not those who use the substance, but those who grow it. It bears repeating: "Cannabis may not be addictive, but growing it is."


Ed Rosenthal in front of a large cannabis drying operation.

Quick Hits 

* This book uses "varieties" to refer to groups of related plants and the term "cultivar" to refer to specific varieties that are named landraces or the result of a dedicated breeding program. (p. 67)

• What most people see as a single flower in cannabis, which some call a "bud" or "cola," is actually many individual flowers grouped together in what is called inflorescense. (p. 106)

• Plants that are growing in poor, low-air porosity soils or growing media may wilt not because they don't have enough water, but because they have too much water. (p. 191)

• The signature odor from cannabis, especially those that are flowering, creates both a risk and a nuisance that can be avoided with proper ventilation system design and technologies. (p. 247)

• Bees collect cannabis pollen to produce bee pollen. There is concern because honeybee populations have dwindled. Being bee safe means not using sprays that impact beneficials and preserving their natural habitats. (p. 420)

• Garden gloves are a good choice for handling buds and small branches. Latex gloves are ideal for manicuring. (p. 521)

Purchase copies of the book here.


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.