In the plant world, the queendom of cannabis is a matriarchy. The female cannabis plant produces buds loaded with cannabinoids, the chemical compounds that give the plant its recreational and medicinal effects. Since it’s possible to clone cannabis plants by taking cuttings from a strong mother plant, you can grow cannabis without the pollen from a male plant. For some growers, keeping male cannabis plants far away from their cannabis garden is ideal. That’s because if you’re growing weed with the intent of consuming its flower for cannabinoids, you don’t want those frisky male plants to pollinate your females. If that happens, the females will use the bulk of their energy to produce seeds instead of potent buds. So we made a list of 10 things to do if you have a male cannabis plant.
Use it for Breeding
Although it is possible to clone a cannabis plant, the only way to breed a new strain is with the pollen from a male. Breeding is an important part of the cannabis plant’s evolution because it facilitates the process of natural selection, making the cannabis plant hardier and more potent. The domestication of cannabis breeding accelerates the “selection” of favorable genetics for the purposes of human consumption which explains why cannabis strains today are far more potent than they were fifty years ago. However, the importance of natural plant breeding has been well documented. As indicated in the 1988 Theoretical and Applied Genetics publication by M. Wink, the domestication of crops has led to the elimination of secondary metabolites, genetic characteristics of plants that give plants natural defenses against predators and harmful microorganisms. In short, male cannabis plants are important for the survival of the plant species.
Usually, hemp fiber is extracted from the bark of the hemp variety of C. sativa. However, it is possible to harvest hemp fiber from male cannabis plants as well. In fact, hemp and marijuana differ because of one chemical disparity: marijuana contains more than 0.3 percent THC and hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC. That means that a male cannabis plant can potentially contain fibers that can be used to make fabric. Hemp fibers can make clothing and rope.
If the Founding Fathers of the United States wrote the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper, it should be good enough for our grocery lists and toilet paper, too? Given that 3.5 to 7 billion trees are cut down annually, exploring hemp as a serious paper alternative may be an answer to environmental devastation. So instead of tossing your male cannabis plants, make hemp paper with them instead.
Raw cannabis leaves contain calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, fiber, and phosphorous as well as inactive cannabinoids, non-psychoactive compounds that have medicinal effects. Although there is a greater concentration of these cannabinoids in female plants, male cannabis plants contain enough cannabinoids, nutrients, and minerals to make juicing them a healthy addition to your diet.
Typical cannabis edibles are known for producing intense, long-lasting highs. In fact, overconsuming THC is typically a consequence of ingesting too much cannabis. But in most cases, male cannabis plants do not have nearly the same quantity of THC in their buds that female plants do. So extracting cannabinoids from male plants will produce a mild concentrate that can be enjoyed in a sweet or savory recipe with little risk of greening out.
Harvesting Edible Seeds
Like sunflower or pumpkin seeds, the seeds of cannabis plants can be a tasty snack. A Nutrition and Metabolism review by Delfin Rodriguez-Leyva and Grant Pierce explains that they are loaded with essential fatty acids, protein, and Vitamin E and minerals including phosphorous, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, and zinc. According to Rodriguez Leyva et al., this nutritional profile “supports the hypothesis that hempseed has the potential to beneficially influence heart disease.” If you’d like to have a continuous supply of hemp seeds, keep a male cannabis plant around and intentionally allow it to pollinate a female. The female will produce seeds that can be harvested for eating.
Male cannabis plants contain cannabinoids and terpenes, chemicals that have medicinal effects. It is true that female cannabis plants contain a much higher concentration of THC in their buds than male cannabis plants do. However, male cannabis plants contain enough cannabinoids to produce concentrates, albeit mild ones. Additionally, male plants tend to contain a higher concentration of CBD. For cannabis users who are looking for a minimal buzz with medicinal effects, extracts from male cannabis plants may provide the right balance.
Although the cannabis plant is most desired for its cannabinoid content, it also houses volatile compounds known as terpenes. Both male and female cannabis plants contain an abundance of these therapeutic molecules. A 2005 Botanical Journal study found that males also contain terpenes in their pollen. Male cannabis can be used to extract terpenes which can then be reintroduced into concentrates, topicals, fragrances, or edibles.
If you have a garden in addition to your cannabis grow, you might consider incorporating male cannabis plants as companions to your other produce. Companion planting is a growing practice that has been used for thousands of years because it promotes the health of the overall garden through the natural defense mechanisms expressed by plants’ terpenes and roots. The terpenes can either deter or attract pests, leading them away from the plants you want to protect. The roots help to break up compact soil, allowing for increased aeration and water flow. If you choose to use your male cannabis plants for this purpose, make sure that your female cannabis plants (or your neighbors’) are isolated from the male, or pollination is likely.
It is not likely that you will get a noticeable high from a male cannabis plant. But its CBD and terpenoid content can still provide therapeutic effects. You can consume male cannabis buds the same way you would consume a female’s and experience relief. You can also extract cannabinoids and terpenoids from the males and make tinctures or infuse the extracts into topicals.