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Seeds can come feminized, meaning you can just put them in soil and start growing for buds. These seeds are guaranteed to be bud-producing females and growing them cuts out the step of having to sex out plants and discard the males.

It also reduces the risk of having a stray male sneak into your crop—just one male can pollinate a huge crop, causing your females to focus their energies on producing seeds instead of buds.

Some strains are easier to grow than others because they are more resistant to mold and pests, so if you’re new to growing, you may want to try an easier strain to start.

Feminized seeds

If you buy a packet of regular seeds, they’ll come with a mix of males and females. A lot of cultivators prefer to grow these because they haven’t been backcrossed—essentially inbred—as much as feminized or autoflower seeds. You’ll need to sex out the seeds once their reproductive organs show during the flowering phase and discard the males—because they don’t produce buds and will pollenate females, resulting in seeded flowers.

You can also do some research and find an online grow journal that details the whole growing process of a specific strain from a particular breeder. Through these, you’ll be able to look over another grower’s specific notes and see pictures of the final results.

Before you purchase seeds online, you’ll need to figure out what strain you want to grow and what breeder you want to buy from.

If you want six total cannabis plants to harvest for buds and are growing from regular seeds, start with about 4 times as many, or 24 seeds. Some won’t germinate and some will turn out to be males, and then you’ll want to discard down to the six best phenotypes. If growing feminized seeds, you can probably start with about twice as many seeds in this case (about 12); a couple won’t germinate, and then discard down to the six best phenotypes.

Making your first legal cannabis purchase may feel a bit awkward and intimidating, but it’s a simple and safe process. Follow the steps below and you’ll be ready to walk into a recreational cannabis shop with confidence and emerge with the right products for you.

Most states in the US that have legal access to cannabis have granted it to valid medical marijuana patients only. As of April 12, 2021, 18 states plus Washington, DC and Guam have legalized recreational marijuana. About two dozen states plus Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, by contrast, have a legal medical marijuana program, but each state’s program varies considerably in terms of access, qualifying conditions, and type of products available.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states in the US to legalize cannabis for adult use. Since then, other states have followed suit. States and territories with legal recreational markets also operate legal medical marijuana programs that cater to patients with qualifying conditions.

Rec vs. MMJ: shopping experience and customer support

Reserve products you want to try or head into the dispensary and pick out and purchase them onsite, then take them home and try them out.

Medical marijuana patients must also renew their doctor’s authorization—most commonly annually, although it varies by each state’s program—in order to maintain a valid medical cannabis card.

At either store type, you’re bound to find the shelves full of various edibles, drinkables, vaporizers, topicals, strains, and concentrates. Some state medical marijuana laws, however, may restrict the form factor allowed to patients, so certain products—like smokable flower—may be unavailable to them.

Once you’ve found a store you love, be sure to leave a review and follow it on Leafly. Maybe you appreciated how helpful the staff was, enjoyed the atmosphere, or found a product you know you’ll want to come back for. Whatever your positive experience looked like, it’s good to take note!

At airports, the TSA is busy maintaining security, not enforcing cannabis possession laws, but if they feel like it, agents do have the freedom to report you to police. This is mostly unheard-of in California, but it’s another good reason not to be a jerk when you’re going through airport security.

Some businesses, particularly in cities, have special permits that allow designated areas for pot smoking; this cafe in West Hollywood, for instance, was established expressly to provide a classy environment for a toke.

You don’t need to know exactly what you want.

You will probably find those monikers more entertaining than useful. That’s why every dispensary worth its salt employs staff that can tell you exactly what each strain will do to you.

Some basic cannabis knowledge helps.

A binder or a menu that explains the various strains and blends might be on hand. The names tend to sound like ice cream flavors or groovy racehorses—Wedding Cake, Moonstone Kush, Cherry Bomb, Happy Pineapple, Pink Glue, and so on.

But don’t dare try bringing your stash onto federal lands. Those include military bases and national parks, so don’t plan a Joshua Tree bacchanal unless you’re okay with being convicted of a federal crime.