Updated on January 20, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
You are browsing online and checking out all the different strains. There is a local dispensary that is selling medical cannabis at an unbelievable price. Really? Only forty dollars per ounce? And it is a great strain that you usually buy. Seeded weed? What does that mean?
Photo Credit: SpliffSeeds.com
At the top of the discounted ‘flash sale’ status of the cannabis, you see a phrase that confuses the heck out of you. And it stands out like kind of a warning; “heavily seeded.” Unless you are a cannabis expert, you probably think seeds are no big deal. They are still natural, right? And they probably have the same amount of THC.
When a grower makes a little bit of a goof-up, and the cannabis is allowed to get frisky with other plants in the greenhouse, seeded nugs happen. Everyone loves a discount! They are a great deal. Having seeds in your whole flower cannabis must be just an aesthetic thing that people don’t like.
Think twice before you get the bargain basement cannabis loaded up with seeds. No, it’s not going to add more fiber to your diet (although you could use seeded cannabis for making edibles). But as far as using it in your pipe? Definitely read up on why it is discounted before you buy.
The Birds and The Bees: Cannabis is a Highly Evolved Plant
Did you know that about 80% of plants on the planet are self-pollinating? Cannabis is a highly evolved plant. It is a dioecious species, which means it has separate male and female plants. Cannabis plants have three sexes. There can be male plants and female plants. And occasionally, a strain will produce hermaphrodite plants (both male and female).
If you were walking through a medical dispensary’s greenhouse, you would see plants that have zero flowers. Lots of leaves, though, but no buds. Then you would see plants blooming with buds. Guess which one is the female plant?
The male cannabis plant is worth empathizing with. He tries hard but barely gets a date. The male cannabis plant typically has a thinner stalk and fewer leaves. But the male cannabis plant grows and produces valuable pollen taken by the wind or breeze to nearby female plants. (Cue the disco music). And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how marijuana buds are born.
Every time a cannabis plant seeds, it is a 50/50 split between male and female seedlings. Some strains can produce up to 75% of male plants. But you can’t tell in a greenhouse until they have started to grow. It usually takes about six weeks in the greenhouse before female plants begin to bloom. Then the male cannabis plants are separated from the female cannabis plants.
The female plants are valuable because they will produce crops of flowers or buds. Male plants, however, are not the star of the show, and they are either mulched for fertilizer or repurposed into other cannabis products.
What Happens to Male Cannabis Plants?
Dispensaries are interested in cultivating cannabis flowers from female plants. Some of the male plants are kept if they show specific attributes that are valuable for breeding. You plant corn, you get corn? It’s a little more complicated with cannabis. Most of the male plants are incredibly low in cannabinoids. Not all of them but most. And so, other than pollination, to a commercial dispensary, the male cannabis plant isn’t worth keeping around.
During the vegetative growth phase (when cannabis is maturing into a seedling), the male plants have higher THC concentrates in the leaves. It is only when the female plants mature to the adult stage that they have a higher potency. Female plants are the only sex to create sinsemilla. That is the compound that produces the psychoactive effects in THC.
Male cannabis plants don’t have a very long lifespan. Cultivators worldwide have tried to breed in high THC and bloom production in male plants, but with no success. You can’t delay the pollination process for male plants, nor can you breed enhanced resin production for male cannabis.
More sad news for male cannabis plants; their pollen is detrimental to female plants. So, if you have a happy crop of male cannabis plants sending their pollen over to the ladies on the other side of the aisle, it can stifle the crop. It will reduce the size and production of female cannabis plants.
Hermaphrodite Cannabis Plants Have It Worse
The creation of hermaphrodites or both male and female sexed organisms is a rare occurrence in nature. But the genetic anomaly can happen to any species on the planet. And that includes the cannabis plant.
Hermaphrodite cannabis plants are considered trouble. When they are discovered, they are separated from other female plants. A few hermaphrodite plants can ruin an entire harvest and jeopardize the quality of the flowers produced. They are found, uprooted, and destroyed in a way that does not allow them to cross-pollinate with any other plants. It’s very much ‘seek and destroy’ when a cultivator finds them in the greenhouse.
The potential for genetically mutated hermaphrodite plants to reproduce with quality strains is very high. So, it is very much ‘seek and destroy’ when a cultivator finds them in the greenhouse.
What Is Seeded Weed Good For?
When you look at a seeded flower, the composition seems similar but extra chunky. Throughout the bud, you will notice seeds of different sizes. Fully germinated and non-germinated seeds (or baby seeds). More fiber! So, the cannabis seeds must be good for you? Well, they are. Just not in your pipe or cone.
There is a market for marijuana seeds because they contain many health benefits. They are a great nutritional resource and have more than thirty (30) healthy fats. Some of the types of healthy fats include alpha-linoleic acid, which is the plant version of omega-3 fatty acid. They are also a high source of plant-based clean proteins.
Fiber! Boy, are cannabis seeds full of fiber, and they are great for digestive health. So much so that some clinical studies have suggested that cannabis seeds can reduce intestinal and colon cancers. Both soluble and insoluble fiber is found in cannabis seeds.
The soluble fiber is absorbed quickly and makes you feel full longer while providing energy. The insoluble fiber has a cleaning effect. It doesn’t digest but has an exfoliating impact as it travels through the digestive tract.
There are many supplements and nutritional products that are made from cannabis seeds. Also, for cosmetic products and skincare. Cannabis seeds are also high in an amino acid called arginine, which helps with muscle relaxation, blood vessel dilation, and reduced blood pressure. Cannabis seeds are often used for nutritional products sold for weight loss.
Why Are There Seeds In Cannabis Flower the Dispensary is Selling?
Full disclosure? Cultivators and dispensaries know that ‘seeded weed’ is a goof up. They know that it still can provide some wellness benefits. However, both the aesthetic and some of the seeded weed side-effects make the product less desirable to patients.
Does seeded weed still have THC and psychoactive properties? Yes. The cannabis potency is usually not any different, and it is still tested before being sold. The website of the dispensary will confirm the THC content in the description of the product.
Seeded weed happens when pollen from a male cannabis plant touches the female plant. Congratulations, you have a baby seed. But a lot of pollen can interact in a single exchange (from more than one male plant). That’s when you end up with bud that looks like an apocalypse of seeds in the cannabis colas.
Can You Grow Cannabis from Seeds You Find In Your Medical Bud?
If you live in a state that has legalized home-growing for personal use, you may be looking at those seeds and wondering if you should plant them? What would happen if you collected all the seeds and then tried to plant them?
Some seeds would germinate, and others would not. But when you are trying to cultivate seeds from a cannabis strain that has been prone to seedy weed, you would not want to grow plants that had the same properties. That would be lower quality cannabis. And you’d be stuck with more seeds. No one wants to reproduce a mediocre hybrid.
What Happens if You Smoke Cannabis With Seeds In It?
It’s cheap. Maybe you are thinking of just throwing it into the grinder and packing your bowl to see what happens? Well, unfortunately, when you incinerate seeds, you are changing the chemistry quite a lot. And while they can produce psychoactive and physiological effects (you will still get high), they can also produce some side-effects.
Both cannabis seeds and stems should be picked out and not consumed. They both contain cellulose, which burns at a hotter temperature than marijuana flowers. And that cellulose, when incinerated, produces carcinogenic toxins (cancer-causing). It makes the smoke hotter and harsher on your respiratory tract.
Some of the other side-effects that patients have experienced when smoking weed seeds are:
Gastrointestinal and abdominal pain
Finally, if you do happen to roll some cannabis seeds in your cone, it’s going to freak you out a little bit—the seeds pop and crackle. Very loudly when you incinerate them, it’s kind of feels like taking a drag off a lit firecracker. No thanks!
What Do I Do With Cannabis Seeds If I Can’t Smoke Them?
Just because cannabis seeds are not ideal for smoking doesn’t mean that they will go to waste. There are other ways you can repurpose them after you separate or sift them from your bud.
Try placing stems and seeds on a baking tray in the oven for about 40 minutes to decarboxylate the cannabis. That activates it. Then, you can grind them up and use them to create a tea or a cannabis-infused butter. You can even add it to your flour if you want to bake some buzz-worthy edibles at home.
Another cool idea for seeds and stems is to add them (after decarboxylation) to a liqueur. You’ve seen vodka’s with hot peppers in the bottle, right? Same thing! You can place them into a bottle of vodka or whisky for a week and then filter them out. Repeat this process every week for a few months to build up the THC content in the alcohol.