Ask a Farmer is a monthly column from The Cannifornian where California cannabis farmers answer reader-submitted questions about marijuana.
This month’s responses are from Humboldt County medical cannabis cultivator and California Growers Association Secretary and board member Nathan Whittington of Ferndale.
A 2001 graduate of Humboldt State University, Whittington received a law degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Law in 2009. He works at the Law Office of Steffan Imhoff in Arcata.
As an undergraduate and business owner in Humboldt County, Whittington learned to defend the environment while navigating the emerging regulations surrounding the cannabis industry. He remains on the front line of education and policy changes affecting the evolving industry.
Today, he owns a demonstration farm, Ladybug Herbal Sanctuary, in line for county and state licensing. His passion is to assist individuals, farms and communities lead the way to be stewards for the future.
Q: I am trying to regulate the humidity inside my grow tent. It has been very rainy lately and even with the air filtration, 4 Damprids and an $80 medium sized dehumidifier, the ambient humidity has remained high. Any advice on how to go thermonuclear against humidity?
A: Humidity is a constant battle here in Humboldt. Depending on the size of your grow tent, there are many ways to address the issue.
One thing to remember is that higher temperature drives down humidity. Heating the room outside the tent would help with this but can be costly depending on the circumstance.
You could go buy a bigger dehum, but you will lose space in the tent.
The cheapest option would be to put coffee cans of rice in the tent to absorb the moisture and bring down humidity. I have never tried this method for a tent, but I have used rice to dry out my phone after dropping it in a puddle.
Q: How tall should I let indoor cannabis plants grow before I switch them to flower within a 4x4x6-foot tent?
A: In 1999, I received my Prop. 215 recommendation and wanted to grow my own medicine here in Humboldt. With the guidance from experienced patients in the community, I was able to grow my own medicine.
My first grow was in a 4x4x6 tent with a 600-watt light, which took up the top foot of the tent. My pots took up the bottom foot of the tent, which left 4 feet for grow space. I let my plants get too tall and burned the tops good. But with trial and error, we are continually making adjustments to find the sweet zone.
In general, a cannabis plant will double or triple in height once you flip the light to flower. So if you have 4 feet of total room for canopy, then vegging the plant up to one foot will leave you plenty of room to flower and avoid burning the top of your plants.
Q: Why is smoking marijuana more potent than edibles?
A: I find the opposite to be true. The act of smoking cannabis decarboxylases the THCa into THC and is quickly absorbed through the lungs into the blood stream. Edibles have to pass through the stomach and the digestive system, where they are absorbed over time. This is a good reason to take edibles in small doses and wait an hour or so to determine how it affects you.
I use extreme caution when taking edibles as the dose can affect patients differently based on weight and metabolism. The Clinical Endocannabinoid System Consortium is doing a crowd sourcing study to look at how patients report their experiences with dosing. They might be a good resource when it comes to medicating. You can find them at The Dosing Project.
Q: Why does marijuana help people who have seizures or Parkinson’s?
A: Cannabis is an amazing plant. When THC was synthesized into a pill called Marinol, the effects were ineffective when compared to smoking. It was from this that we learned about the role of heat in activating the THC.
You can find articles saying all the amazing ways patients use cannabis for ailments. Unfortunately, marijuana is a Schedule I substance, which means it is defined as having no medicinal value. When you go ask the distraught mother of a child whose seizures are dramatically reduced by using CBD (which is not psychoactive), she might see medicinal value in the treatment.
The human body is full of receptors for cannabinoids. In the brain CB1 receptors are more prevalent than any others. The various success stories we often hear about are based on personal experience with the positive results. The “why” is what needs to be studied so we can continue to unlock the magic of this amazing plant.
Q: How is mass quantity of marijuana transferred? Is the product insured during transportation?
A: The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors authorized the Agriculture Department to run a track-and-trace pilot program to manage the flow of cannabis products from the farm to patients. Under this program, cannabis is packaged in the county and sealed by a stamp, which holds all the information on the product. This information can be found by reading the QR code on the stamp or by entering the unique number at humboldtorigin.org.
Transferring the product is done by creating a transfer document, which is akin to a bill of lading. This document can be used to verify the cannabis came from a compliant farm while in transit. The transporter then takes the product and paper work to the recipient.
Insurance will be available just like any other shipping business once the state rules are finalized and insurance carriers can underwrite the activity. This transition from a Prop. 215 unregulated marketplace to a well regulated industry will ensure our right to be treated as legitimate businesses. It is exciting and scary at the same time. I am encouraged by the counties support in pioneering a new vision for California.