British police this week reportedly uncovered thousands of cannabis plants in an abandoned tire factory in what is being called one of the largest weed busts in the area.
The British newspaper The Independent reported that law enforcement in the otherwise sleepy Lincolnshire village “busted one of their largest ever cannabis factories after discovering 6,000 plants inside an old tyre factory – believed to be worth around £6.5 million.”
“This is one of the largest cannabis grows we have located in Lincolnshire to date and follows the excellent development of intelligence,” said detective inspector Richard Nethercott, as quoted by the Lincolnshire World.
“Cannabis production is far from being harmless: it is often linked to wider, organised criminality which is why tackling the wider issue of drug supply is one of our key priorities. Lincolnshire Police remains determined to crack down on criminal enterprises and remove drugs from circulation.”
According to the BBC, three men “aged 28, 38, and 42, all of no fixed address, were taken into custody following the raid,” and the plants were “removed and destroyed.”
The raid “took place at the property situated behind a countryside village pub at around 8am on Tuesday,” according to The Independent, which said that the property was the location of “the Old Kings Head Tyre Factory in Hubberts Bridge, near Boston.”
While the raid may have been remarkable for Lincolnshire, it falls under a familiar story genre here at High Times, which has chronicled some of the more peculiar cannabis busts from across the pond.
In 2019, we told you about the 120-year-old Victorian style theater in London that was the site of a $51 million marijuana grow operation.
Authorities there surmised that the grow site had been operational for roughly a decade in the bowels of the old Broadway Theater, which was built in 1897.
A spokesperson for the London police said that “officers were called to an address following reports of a disturbance.”
“They discovered a large number of cannabis plants along with equipment used in the cultivation of cannabis in an area beneath the residential properties. Three men, aged 28, 45, and 47, and a 36-year-old woman have been arrested on suspicion of the cultivation of cannabis. They have all been released under investigation,” the spokesperson said at the time.
Police at the time responded to reports of a pungent cannabis odor in the area.
“This is the first cannabis factory in the City, no doubt being set up in response to fewer people being out and about during the pandemic who might have noticed any unusual activity,” Andy Spooner, the London detective overseeing the investigation, said at the time. “However, this demonstrates that City of London Police continues to actively police the Square Mile, bearing down on any crime committed here.”
And last year, the English village of West Parley provided yet another example after locals there discovered a half-dozen suspicious plants growing in a community garden.
The marijuana plants were tough to miss, with one local remarking at the time that they were “towering above the bedding plants.”
Let the planting begin. Thailand’s government leadership signaled optimism regarding the country’s recent shift in medical cannabis reform with a massive plant giveaway.
Thailand Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said he will offer households 1 million cannabis plants for free in a May 8 Facebook post. Furthermore, beginning on June 9, Thailand residents will have the freedom to grow “as many cannabis plants” as they like in their own homes for medical purposes, according to Charnvirakul.
The Nation Thailand reportsthat the homegrown cannabis must be grown for medical purposes. Licensing will not be required for home cultivation, unlike commercial cannabis and hemp companies in the country.
“This will enable people and the government to generate more than 10 billion baht [$288,846,200 per year] in revenue from marijuana and hemp,” Charnvirakul said. “Meanwhile, people can showcase their cannabis and hemp-related products and wisdom and sell their products nationwide.”
Licensed companies in Thailand can sell hemp products with less than 0.2 percent THC—a tad bit more strict than the 0.3 THC limit imposed on hemp in the United States.
While home cultivation of medical cannabis will have few restrictions, large cannabis-related businesses must request permission to operate from the Thailand Food and Drug Administration, he added.
People who grow commercially without first obtaining permission from the government will face a fine of up to 20,000 baht ($577.76). People who sell commercial cannabis without a license face a fine of up to 300,000 baht ($8,665.76) or three years in jail, or both.
The intention is to redefine cannabis as a “household crop,” and it’s the latest maneuver in Thailand’s plan to transform cannabis into a cash crop.
Charnvirakul added that he wants to allow entrepreneurs and businesses to compete freely in Thailand’s cannabis market.
After legalizing medical cannabis in 2018, the country reportedly saw its own “Green Rush,” primarily composed of infused edibles, drinks, and cosmetics companies with a big focus on hemp-derived cannabinoids like CBD as well as terpenes. This took place after the use of hemp-derived ingredients were approved for use in edibles and cosmetics.
Dirk De Cuyper, CEO of S Hotels and Resorts toldBenzinga that it is a destination for medical tourism, when asked about the country’s latest developments.
Businesses such as Chopaka, OG Papers, and Bloom discussed the blossoming cannabis community in Thailand. “The new market is interesting,” entrepreneur Kitty Chopaka toldHigh Times in March, representing a terpene-infused gummy company. “Because we’re in Asia, many people are curious but don’t want to get high.”
Despite the new focus on medical applications, cannabis is well-known in the country for recreational purposes as well. Legendary Thai Sticks have been supplied on and off to the U.S. since the Vietnam War. Only the finest sativas were chosen, tied with silk to bamboo or hemp stalks, and rolled in hash oil (or opium). Reportedly it was the highest quality weed around in the 70s. The modern equivalent might be a strong canna cigar. According to Danny Danko in 2015, Thai Sticks fell out of favor years ago as some farmers in the lowlands of Thailand were forced to switch from the cultivation of the country’s stellar sativas for more profitable poppy plants.
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Cannabis has been a popular recreational substance for a long time, but the type of weed we consume today has changed dramatically from what our parents and grandparents were smoking decades ago. On average, cannabis available today is about 67% stronger than in the 1970s, and it grows faster and stays smaller in size. Cultivators no longer need 9 full months and space large enough to grow 12-foot-tall plants with buds that only had about 3% THC, if they were lucky. But what factors led to these rapid changes in growth and potency? As it turns out, the secret to getting stronger weed is sexually frustrated female cannabis plants.
As a dioecious plant, yes, cannabis be either male or female, and yes, it can be sexually frustrated. What you’re smoking on right now are flowers from a female plant; and if your current stash is really dank and covered in sticky THC trichomes, then those buds came from a sexually deprived female.
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Male vs Female Cannabis Plants
Female cannabis plants produce those large, resin-secreting, psychoactive buds. Females are the industry’s superstar because they’re the ones that produce the most cannabinoids. Anytime you buy weed or look at pictures of marijuana with flowers, you’re looking at female plants.
Male cannabis plants do not grow flowers. Instead, they develop pollen sacs around the nodes and tips of the branches, with which they can pollenate any nearby female plants. When female plants are pollinated, they begin to produce seeds, but since no one wants to smoke low-THC schwag with seeds in it, the males are usually thrown out pretty early.
On the public side of the cannabis market, females get all the glory. However, when we look more at the botany behind the bud, male plants have some very important functions as well. Like humans, when a female plant is pollinated, half of the genetic makeup of the seeds produced will come from the male plant. Aside from potency and flavor, many other important characteristics can be passed on from male plants including growth rate, bud size and shape, resistance to mold and pests, and general resilience.
The buds we prefer to consume are seedless female plants with good genetics, referred to as “sinsemilla”, which means “without seeds” in Spanish. To ensure that plants will be sinsemilla females, growers can used feminized seeds or grow clones by replanting small clippings from their existing plants.
How To Tell The Difference
At first, you won’t be able to. Once your plants are roughly 4-6 weeks old and entering the flowering stage, you can start looking for “pre-flowers”. Cannabis pre-flowers are comparable to sex organs, and the females’ look quite different from the males’.
To determine their sex, you’ll need to look between the plant’s nodes (where the leaves and branches extend out from the stalk). Males will have pollen sacs to help spread pollen to the female plants, and females develop two bracts and hair-like stigmas to catch the pollen. Click here for a great guide with photos to help you more easily determine sex.
Sexually Frustrated Females
Back in the 1970s, cannabis growers made a game-changing cultivation discovery: isolating female plants produced extra potent flowers. When females are pollinated, they halt resin/THC production and begin producing seeds. However, when the sexes are separated, females do not get pollinated and thus, they don’t produce seeds and ramp up the resin production. Sinsemilla weed, on average, has a THC content around 6-10% higher than seeded strains.
Simply put, this cultivation method results in ‘sexually frustrated’ female plants. It’s strange, but it works, and the reason for this is because cannabis is one of the few plant species that elicits a physical response to prolonged virginity. Meaning, the longer she feels ‘sexually deprived’, or the longer pollination is put off, the larger and more resinous her sex organs (flowers) become.
Some growers would go so far as to say their plants are somewhat ‘masochistic’, in addition to being horny. Apparently, when the flowers begin to form, some plants will repeatedly bend their branches to the point of almost breaking, a process that helps facilitate resin production in the buds. As one popular Redditor so eloquently put it, “you’re all high on horny plant vaginas.” It’s strangely accurate.
Cannabis Resin, Pollination, and THC Production
Cannabis resin is a rich brown, sticky, gooey substance found on the flowers and leaves of the plant. It’s similar to tree sap, but the main distinction between the two is that cannabis resin is held together by fatty structures called trichomes. These are the plant’s resin glands that contain THC, CBD, terpenes, flavonoids, and other therapeutic cannabinoids and compounds.
To us, trichomes are an amazing and delicious plant byproduct that offers endless medicinal and recreational benefits; but to the cannabis plant, trichomes are one of its most important defense mechanisms. As cannabis flowers develop, they are vulnerable to so much harmful external stimuli such as pests, infections, herbivores, damaging UV rays, and pollution. In the wild, trichomes offer a certain level of protection from all of these things.
Additionally, cannabis resin aids in seed production by catching pollen from the male plants. One male plant can produce an estimated 350,000 pollen grains, and cannabis pollen is airborne so a little bit can go a very long way. As a matter of fact, a study published in 2000 found that cannabis pollen made up just under 36% of total airborne pollen counts in Midwest states during harvest months. This is why it’s important to remove the male plants from the grow area as soon as you determine the sex.
The good news is, you don’t have to go through this process every time you want high-THC, seedless flower. Realistically, isolating your female plants would only be necessary if you’re using the male’s genetics to create new strains. To skip the pollination process, a modern grower can either buy already feminized seeds, or use a clone from an existing female plant.
Cannabis is a bit of a rarity because only about 6% of flowering plants are dioecious. However, on rare occasions, hermaphroditic weed plants containing both male and female parts are known to occur. In general, most plants are hermaphroditic, but this is not very common for cannabis. Sometimes, hermaphroditic cannabis plants can self-pollinate, but they usually produce seeds, lower levels of THC, and they can pass on hermaphroditic genes, so they’re not ideal. Also, true hermaphrodites produce sacs that need to rupture.
There are two types of hermaphrodite plants: those that develop both sexual organs (buds and pollen sacs), and those that develop anthers. Anthers are oval-shaped, pollen-producing sacs found at the end of the stamen. Some growers call them “bananas” because of their elongated appearance.
When cannabis plants turn hermaphroditic it’s sometimes referred to as “herming out”. This is usually a result of excessive environmental stress such as damage to the plant’s physical structure, bad weather, disease, and/or nutrient deficiencies. Bad genetics and previous hermaphroditic development can also be a risk factor. Basically, if you notice any pollen sacs or anthers, get that plant away from your females ASAP.
Final Thoughts on Female Cannabis Plants, Sexual Frustration, and THC Production
To reiterate, if you want big, potent buds that are covered in those flavorful, cannabinoid-filled trichomes, the key is sexually frustrated female plants. Cannabis plants basically live to be pollinated and produce more plants, so when pollination doesn’t occur, the female plant begins to overcompensate by creating bigger flowers with thicker resin.
The fact that cannabis plants are dioecious and respond in such complex ways to sexual stimulation (or lack of it), really makes them even more relatable. We are so incredibly connected to the universe around us which makes it that much more important to understand the complexities of other living creatures.
Today’s interactive weed Wordsearch is all about growing cannabis plants. Since it’s legal, it’s time to familiarize yourself with some plant jargon. Have fun and remember, it’s always important to take the time to smell the roses… and dank bud! Did you win the puzzle? Want to play again? Refresh your screen and get ready […]
If you want to truly maximize the positive benefits of using cannabis, it’s important to understand the difference between CBD and THC. While the two cannabinoids have similarities, they work in contrasting, harmonious ways; each producing a particular effect on the human body. In order to tailor your cannabis use to your health, here is […]