Dear Potanist: I smoked marijuana once before I married my late husband, who was a rising young lawyer at the time and suggested we should avoid anything that could cause a scandal. Well, he became an influential and inspirational man, and now that I am widowed and marijuana has been legalized, I’d like to make up for lost time. My concern is the smoking factor. It took me the better part of 20 years to kick my cigarette habit. Can I get high without lighting up? —Smoke Free and Dope-ful
The short answer is yes. Marijuana has been ingested as food and drink since ancient times, and it’s the perfect solution for those who would like a smoke-free high. Speaking of high: Eating cannabis is known to deliver a “body high,” a sort of happy relaxation from within the body, and may not feel like what you experienced long ago.
THC-laced comestibles are commonly called edibles, which range from classic brownies to the most gourmet concoctions, and are currently a formidable and growing industry. As you are new to the stoner scene, I would suggest you turn to already established cannabis cooks and ask about potency and dosage before consuming your treats (it’s still illegal to purchase cannabis in DC!). Unlike smoking, which delivers the high within minutes, consuming marijuana can take up to three hours to deliver effects. This means that you should be prepared for a future high version of yourself but note that dosage can quickly go from just-right to way-too-much. That being said, enjoy yourself! —The Potanist
Dear Potanist: I’m a devoted daily toker and am slightly ashamed to say that I have not yet started growing my own bud, mostly because I’m too busy blazing to figure out how to do it. There is a new grow shop in my neighborhood that periodically gives out free “clones.” They look like small plants, so I’m not sure why they are called clones. That word reminds me of high school science classes, but I always got high before school and cannot for the life of me remember what cloning has to do with marijuana. Do clones turn into buds?
—Blazed and Confused
My dear confused cloning contender, take out your binder and highlighter: It’s time to take notes. Growing marijuana has become a scientifically and technically advanced process, with new advancements announced regularly at conferences and in trade magazines. Cloning is one of these frontiers: There are a variety of techniques ranging from the old-school Tupperware-and-light-bulb method to more modern machines that not only gently mist marijuana cuttings with water and hormones around the clock, but also provide an ambient water scape for your auditory pleasure.
At the root of cloning (pardon the pun) is the same science you forgot to learn in high school: creating a genetically identical life form. In this case, it happens to be marijuana. Growing from seeds means gambling with phenotypes: Plants may be genetically identical but express their genes in different ways that become obvious as they get older. You can skip this Russian roulette with cloning from your favorite plant. Small cuttings from a “mother” plant are placed in perfect conditions for roots to grow directly from the cut stem, effectively creating a genetically identical “daughter,” or “clone.” This is highly advantageous not only because you can grow several generations of plants that produce your favorite bud, but also because the clones grow with the speed of an adult plant, which means more flowers in less time. Even if you forgot all your high school math, that should sound pretty good to you.
The disadvantage to cloning is that the strength of the plant’s genetics will weaken somewhat from generation to generation, so you may eventually end up with a clone that is more susceptible to disease or isn’t able to grow flowers as large as the previous generations, at which point you may want to explore growing from seeds. If you’re just getting started, experimenting with free clones is a great beginning. You’ll learn how different strains grow in different ways, and unlike your high school science experiments, you’ll be able to smoke your results. —The Potanist
Email your burning questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.