Top Marijuana Stocks for May 2022
HYFM, AYR.A.CX, IIPR are top for value, growth, and performance, respectively
Matthew Johnston has more than 5 years writing content for Investopedia. He is an expert on company news, market news, political news, trading news, investing, and the economy. He received his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from St. Stephen’s University and his master’s degree in economics at The New School for Social Research. He teaches macroeconomics at St. Stephen’s University.
The marijuana industry is made up of companies that either support or are engaged in the research, development, distribution, and sale of medical and recreational marijuana. Cannabis has begun to gain wider acceptance and has been legalized in a growing number of nations, states, and other jurisdictions for recreational, medicinal, and other uses. Some of the biggest companies in the marijuana industry include Canopy Growth Corp., Cronos Group Inc., and Tilray Inc. Many big marijuana companies have continued to post sizable net losses as they focus on investing in equipment to speed up revenue growth.
Marijuana stocks, as represented by the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ), have dramatically underperformed the broader market. MJ has provided a total return of -56.1% over the past 12 months, well below the Russell 1000’s total return of 6.4%. These market performance numbers and all statistics in the tables below are as of April 19, 2022.
Below we look at the top five marijuana stocks with the best value, the fastest growth, and the best performance.
Best Value Marijuana Stocks
These are the marijuana stocks with the lowest 12-month trailing price-to-sales (P/S) ratio. For companies in the early stages of development or industries suffering from major shocks, this can be substituted as a rough measure of a business’s value. A business with higher sales could eventually produce more profit when it achieves (or returns to) profitability. The P/S ratio shows how much you’re paying for the stock for each dollar of sales generated.
|Best Value Marijuana Stocks|
|Price ($)||Market Cap ($B)||12-Month Trailing P/S Ratio|
|Hydrofarm Holdings Group Inc. (HYFM)||12.15||0.5||1.1|
|GrowGeneration Corp. (GRWG)||7.66||0.5||1.1|
|Village Farms International Inc. (VFF)||4.52||0.4||1.4|
|Ayr Wellness Inc. (AYR.A.CX)||CA$12.62||CA$0.8||1.6|
|Cresco Labs Inc. (CL.CX)||CA$6.98||CA$2.0||1.8|
- Hydrofarm Holdings Group Inc.: Hydrofarm Holdings Group is a holding company that, through its subsidiaries, makes and distributes hydroponic products to customers throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The company offers hundreds of brands. It has a total of nine distribution centers, offering a product line of more than 5,000 items.
- GrowGeneration Corp.: GrowGeneration is a distributor of agricultural products and one of the largest hydroponics suppliers in the country, operating retail hydroponic and organic specialty gardening retail outlets. Though GrowGeneration is not a pure-play cannabis company, many of its products are used in cannabis cultivation. It sells thousands of products, including plant nutrients, farming soils, advanced lighting technology, and hydroponic and aquaponic equipment. It owns and operates 63 retail and distribution centers.
- Village Farms International Inc.: Village Farms International is a Canada-based vertically integrated greenhouse produce company. The company produces cannabis in addition to growing, producing, and distributing fresh produce to national grocers in North America. The company’s brands include: Village Farms Fresh, a vertically integrated greenhouse grower; Pure Sunfarms, a cannabis producer; ROSE LifeScience, a cannabis producer and distributor; Balanced Health Botanicals, a CBD brand with an e-commerce platform; Village Fields Hemp, a hemp grower; and VF Clean Energy, a subsidiary that converts landfill gas to clean energy.
- Ayr Wellness Inc.: Ayr Wellness is a cannabis company involved in the cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing of cannabis and cannabis-derived products. The company’s product portfolio includes flowers, seltzers and tinctures, edibles and vape products under brands including Kynd, Origyn, Stix Preroll Co., Levia, Road Tripper, Entourage, Haze, Wicked, Secret Orchard, and Cannapunch. Ayr Wellness also trades over the counter (OTC) in the U.S. under the ticker AYRWF. The company announced in mid-February that it has completed its acquisition of Cultivauna LLC, owner of Levia-branded cannabis infused seltzers and water-soluble tinctures, for $20 million in upfront consideration. Under the terms of the transaction, which was first announced in September 2021, an earnout payment of up to an additional $40 million will be paid in shares depending on whether certain revenue targets in 2022 and 2023 are achieved.
- Cresco Labs Inc.: Cresco Labs grows, manufactures, distributes, and packages cannabis products. The company operates in 10 states, including production facilities and dispensaries. Its brands include Cresco, Reserve, Remedi, High Supply, Wonder Wellness Co., Mindy’s, Good News, Sunnyside, and FloraCal Farms. Cresco Labs’ stock also trades OTC in the U.S. under the ticker CRLBF. The company announced in late March that it has agreed to acquire Columbia Care Inc., a cultivator and manufacturer of cannabis products and related services, for approximately $2.0 billion. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Fastest Growing Marijuana Stocks
These are the marijuana stocks with the highest year-over-year (YOY) sales growth for the most recent quarter. Rising sales can help investors identify companies that are able to grow revenue organically or through other means, and find growing companies that have not yet reached profitability. In addition, earnings per share can be significantly influenced by accounting factors that may not reflect the overall strength of the business. However, sales growth can also be potentially misleading about the strength of a business, because growing sales on money-losing businesses can be harmful if the company has no plan to reach profitability.
|Fastest Growing Marijuana Stocks|
|Price ($)||Market Cap ($B)||Revenue Growth (%)|
|Ayr Wellness Inc. (AYR.A.CX)||CA$12.62||CA$0.8||126.3|
|OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (OGI)||1.60||0.5||118.0|
|Verano Holdings Corp. (VRNO.CX)||CA$10.70||CA$2.2||106.0|
|Jushi Holdings Inc. (JUSH.CX)||CA$3.60||CA$0.7||104.9|
|Trulieve Cannabis Corp. (TRUL.CX)||CA$22.96||CA$4.2||75.3|
- Ayr Wellness Inc.: See above for company description.
- OrganiGram Holdings Inc.: OrganiGram Holdings is a Canada-based producer of medical and recreational cannabis focused on producing high-quality, indoor-grown cannabis. It is the parent company of Organigram Inc., a producer of cannabis products, and The Edibles and Infusions Corp., a cannabis-infused, soft-chew and confectionary manufacturer. Its brands include The Edison Cannabis Co., Indi, Bag o’ Buds, SHRED, and Trailblazer. OrganiGram’s stock also trades in Canada on the TSX under the ticker OGI.TO. On April 12, the company reported results for Q2 of its 2022 fiscal year (FY), the three-month period ended Feb. 28, 2022. The company said its net loss narrowed dramatically to $4.0 million from $66.4 million as net revenue more than doubled. OrganiGram Holdings said it grew its market share among Canadian licensed producers to 8.2% in February, and remained the top market share spot in dried flower.
- Verano Holdings Corp.: Verano Holdings is a vertically integrated, multistate cannabis operator. The company produces a wide range of medical and adult-use cannabis products, which it sells through its portfolio of brands, including: Verano, Avexia, Encore, and MÜV. It owns and operates 15 cultivation facilities and 113 retail locations in a number of states throughout the U.S. (the number of cultivation facilities and retail locations includes those operated and owned by two pending acquisitions). The company’s stock also trades OTC in the U.S. under the ticker VRNOF. Verano announced in early February that it has agreed to acquire Goodness Growth Holdings Inc., a holding company whose subsidiaries include Vireo Health, a multistate cannabis company, and Resurgent Biosciences Inc., a science and intellectual property incubator. The deal gives Verano Holdings access to the New York, New Mexico, and Minnesota markets. The all-share transaction is valued at approximately $413 million. Verano Holdings did not say when the transaction is expected to be completed.
- Jushi Holdings Inc.: Jushi Holdings is a holding company focused on branded cannabis and hemp-based assets. The company is engaged in retail, distribution, cultivation, and processing operations. Its brands include: The Bank, focused on plant genetics and cultivation; The Lab, specializing in vape products and concentrates; Nira, a maker of hemp-based CBD products that are physician formulated; Nira+, a producer of medicinal THC products; Sèche, which offers various branded ground and flower cannabis products; and Tasteology, a provider of THC-infused products. Jushi also trades OTC in the U.S. under the ticker JUSHF. The company announced in early April that it has closed its acquisition of NuLeaf Inc. for $53.6 million. NuLeaf owns three medical retail dispensaries, a cultivation facility, and a processing facility in Nevada.
- Trulieve Cannabis Corp.: Trulieve Cannabis is a vertically integrated cannabis company and multi-state operator. The company operates across 11 states, with leading market positions in Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania. It operates a variety of cannabis brands, including the Cultivar Collection, Muse, Blue River, Trulieve Core, Sweet Talk, and Momenta. Trulieve also trades OTC in the U.S. under the ticker TCNNF. The company announced in mid-February that it has completed its acquisition of a 64,000 square foot cultivation facility in Phoenix for upfront consideration of $13.8 million. The transaction includes potential milestone payments that are subject to earnout and escrow requirements.
Marijuana Stocks with the Best Performance
Momentum investing is a factor-based investing strategy in which you invest in a stock whose price has risen faster than the market has as a whole. Momentum investors believe that stocks that have outperformed the market will often continue to do so because the factors that caused them to outperform will not suddenly disappear. In addition, other investors, seeking to benefit from the stock’s outperformance, will often purchase the stock, further bidding its price higher and pushing the stock higher still. These are the marijuana stocks that had the smallest declines in total return over the past 12 months out of the companies we looked at.
|Marijuana Stocks with the Best Performance|
|Price ($)||Market Cap ($B)||12-Month Trailing Total Return (%)|
|Innovative Industrial Properties Inc. (IIPR)||164.32||4.2||-6.5|
|Green Thumb Industries Inc. (GTII.CX)||CA$21.00||CA$4.9||-38.1|
|OrganiGram Holdings Inc. (OGI)||1.60||0.5||-38.5|
|Sundial Growers Inc. (SNDL)||0.56||1.1||-40.8|
|4Front Ventures Corp. (FFNT.CX)||CA$0.90||CA$0.6||-42.3|
|ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ)||N/A||N/A||-56.1|
- Innovative Industrial Properties Inc.: Innovative Industrial Properties (IIP) is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that engages in the acquisition, disposition, development, and management of industrial facilities leased to tenants in the regulated cannabis industry. The company’s portfolio consists of specialized industrial and greenhouse buildings leased to state-licensed cannabis operators across the U.S. IIP announced in mid-April that it has acquired a Maryland property consisting of approximately 84,000 square feet of industrial and greenhouse space for $25.0 million. With the closing of the transaction, the company also entered into a long-term, triple-net lease agreement for the property with a subsidiary of Maryland Cultivation and Processing LLC. The subsidiary plans to continue operating the property as a regulated cannabis cultivation facility.
- Green Thumb Industries Inc.: Green Thumb Industries is a consumer-packaged cannabis products company and retailer. It manufactures and distributes a variety of branded cannabis products through its portfolio of brands, including Beboe, Dogwalkers, Dr. Solomon’s, Good Green, incredibles and RYTHM. The company also owns and operates retail cannabis stores called Rise. Green Thumb has 17 manufacturing facilities and scores of retail locations, with operations across 15 U.S. markets. The company’s stock also trades OTC in the U.S. under the ticker GTBIF.
- OrganiGram Holdings Inc.: See above for company description.
- Sundial Growers Inc.: Sundial Growers is a Canada-based diversified cannabis company engaged in the cultivation, manufacturing and processing, and retailing of various cannabis products. The company focuses on inhalables for the Canadian adult-use market. Its branded products are available in flower, vape, pre-roll, and other forms. The company’s brands include Sundial, Top Leaf, Palmetto, and Grasslands. Sundial Growers announced in late March that it has completed its acquisition of Alcanna Inc. for CA$320 million ($256 million). Alcanna is one of the largest retailers of alcohol in North America and it also has a majority ownership of Nova Cannabis, which operates 78 cannabis retail stores in Canada.
- 4Front Ventures Corp.: 4Front Ventures owns and operates cannabis cultivation and production facilities. It cultivates marijuana, produces cannabis flower, edibles, and oil-based products, and distributes its products via medical dispensaries or adult-use stores. The company owns and operates production and retail facilities across five U.S. states. It produces more than 32 tons of cannabis per year and owns over 20 brands offering more than 1,800 unique product lines. 4Front’s stock also trades OTC in the U.S. under the ticker FFNTF. The company announced in late March that it has agreed to acquire Island Cannabis Co., a producer of pre-rolls, flower, and concentrate products. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
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The 5 Best Marijuana Stocks to Buy in 2022
Global cannabis sales should double by 2026 to $62.1 billion, with the U.S. accounting for most of this growth.
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These pot stocks will have investors seeing green in the new year.
For many investors, the new year brings new opportunities to find attractive stocks in high-growth industries. Among all the industries to choose from, there may not be a better blend of growth and value at the moment than cannabis stocks, specifically those in the United States.
According to estimates from cannabis analytics company BDSA, worldwide weed sales are expected to double from $31 billion in 2021 to $62.1 billion by 2026. The bulk of this nominal growth will originate in the United States.
Although marijuana stocks were a buzzkill last year after federal cannabis-reform measures once again failed to gain traction in Congress, they’re now about as inexpensive as they’ve ever been. With that being said, these are the five best marijuana stocks to buy in 2022.
Image source: Getty Images.
The easiest way to see green in the cannabis space is to buy the most nominally profitable pot stock: Trulieve Cannabis (TCNNF -1.01% ) .
Trulieve, like many of the stocks on this list, is a vertically integrated multi-state operator (MSO) that controls most aspects of the seed-to-sale process. But its path to profitability was a lot different than that of most pot stocks.
Instead of setting up shop in as many legalized states as possible, Trulieve focused most of its attention on Florida’s medical marijuana market. As of Dec. 30, Trulieve had 160 operating dispensaries nationwide, 112 of which were in the Sunshine State. Saturating Florida has allowed Trulieve to gobble up half of the state’s dried cannabis flower and oils market, all while keeping its marketing budget relatively low. The result: three consecutive years of profitability in an industry where only a handful of companies are currently profitable.
The excitement for 2022 revolves around Trulieve’s acquisition of MSO Harvest Health & Recreation, which was completed during the fourth quarter. Harvest Health’s home market is Arizona, which voted to legalize recreational weed in November 2020, and began retailing adult-use cannabis in January 2021. Trulieve has 17 dispensaries in the state and a clear pathway to leading market share.
With sales growth expected to top 50% in 2022, Trulieve looks like a bargain at roughly 26 times estimated earnings per share.
A hydroponic cannabis farm. Image source: Getty Images.
Ancillary cannabis plays haven’t fared nearly as well as I or other pundits would have expected. But one that looks ripe for the picking in 2022 is GrowGeneration (GRWG 7.51% ) .
GrowGen, as the company is better known, operates retail hydroponic and organic gardening centers in 13 states. Though the hydroponic (i.e., growing plants in a nutrient-rich water solvent), soil, nutrient, and lighting solutions offered by the company are helpful for consumers and enterprises of all industries, it’s of particular use to increasing crop yields for cannabis growers. Thus GrowGen is often viewed as a marijuana stock.
The company’s key to success has long been its aggressive acquisition strategy. Don’t get me wrong: GrowGen’s same-store sales have consistently risen by a double-digit percentage. However, the company’s bread and butter is acquiring locations in new and existing markets to quickly grow its brand.
In addition to acquisitions, management is focused on building up the company’s online presence, as well as promoting a number of proprietary and private-label brands that should provide a margin lift. The third quarter saw private-label and proprietary merchandise account for nearly 9% of total sales, which compares to more like 2% in the year-ago quarter.
After getting pummeled last year, shares of GrowGeneration can be scooped up for well under two times estimated sales for 2022.
The Planet 13 Las Vegas SuperStore. Image source: Planet 13.
Planet 13 Holdings
The best marijuana stocks to buy in 2022 are those that provide a competitive advantage and differentiation. Small-cap MSO Planet 13 Holdings (PLNH.F -1.32% ) fits that description well.
What makes Planet 13 unique is that the company is focused just as much on providing a memorable experience for cannabis enthusiasts as it is on making sales. The key differentiator here is the sheer size and functionality of its dispensaries.
Planet 13 has two operating dispensaries at the moment. The Las Vegas SuperStore spans 112,000 square feet and features a cafe, consumer-facing processing center, and events center, to go along with the biggest selection of pot products you’ll find in any U.S. dispensary. There’s also the Orange County SuperStore in Santa Ana, California, which spans 55,000 square feet, including 16,500 square feet of selling space.
Having visited the Las Vegas SuperStore, I was impressed by the incorporation of technology (self-pay kiosks), a store layout that funnels customers to higher-margin derivative products, and the provision of individual budtenders to meet customer needs.
The next tourist-heavy locations for Planet 13 dispensaries will be Chicago; Orlando, Florida, and Miami.
With the company on the verge of recurring profitability and gobbling up a significant portion of Nevada’s weed sales with just a single location, it has the look of a no-brainer buy.
Image source: Getty Images.
Another small-cap pot stock with serious potential in 2022 is MSO Jushi Holdings (JUSHF -6.84% ) .
To keep with the theme here, Jushi has a unique two-pronged strategy for growth.
First, it’s targeting a number of limited-license markets, like Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Virginia. A limited-license state limits how many dispensary licenses are issued in total and/or to a single business. For big companies with deep pockets, limited-license markets can be a nuisance. But for Jushi, which has just 28 operating dispensaries nationwide, these limitations provide some degree of protection, allowing it to build up its brands and garner a loyal following.
Jushi’s other key catalyst has been prudently deploying cash for acquisitions. For example, the company acquired two dispensaries in Southern California last year. Though California has plenty of pot stores, it’s the leading market for marijuana sales in the world.
As a Jushi shareholder, I’ll also add that execs and other insiders were responsible for contributing $45 million of the first $250 million in capital raised by the company. When the financial interest of insiders align with that of shareholders, good things happen more often than not.
Image source: Getty Images.
The fifth and final best marijuana stock to buy in 2022 is MSO Cresco Labs (CRLBF -2.35% ) .
Similar to Jushi Holdings, Cresco Labs has a penchant for focusing most of its attention on limited-license states, at least with regard to its retail operations. The company has 45 operating dispensaries, with a presence in limited-license markets like Illinois, Ohio, and Massachusetts. Mixing in competitive high-dollar markets, such as Florida, with limited-license markets gives Cresco a path to sustainable double-digit retail growth.
But what really allows Cresco Labs to stand out is the company’s industry-leading wholesale operations. Wall Street isn’t a big fan of wholesale cannabis because the margins aren’t anything to speak of next to retail cannabis. But Cresco Labs can make up what it loses in margin with insane volume. That’s because it holds one of only a small handful of cannabis distribution licenses in California. This license allows it to place its proprietary pot products into more than 575 dispensaries throughout the Golden State.
Cresco Labs has all the tools and momentum necessary to reach recurring profitability in 2022. With the company now valued at well under two times estimated sales (per Wall Street) this year, it looks like a budding bargain.
Cannabis seeds 101: How to grow marijuana from seed
Cannabis is grown from one of two sources: a seed or a clone. Seeds carry genetic information from two parent plants and can express many different combinations of traits: some from the mother, some from the father, and some traits from both.
In commercial cannabis production, generally, growers will plant many seeds of one strain and choose the best plant. They will then take clones from that individual plant, which allows for consistent genetics for mass production.
If cannabis is legal in your state, you can buy seeds or clones from a local dispensary, or online through various seed banks.
Cannabis seeds vs. clones
For the typical homegrower, it may be easier to obtain cannabis seeds rather than clones. Growing from seed can produce a stronger plant with more solid genetics.
Plants grown from seed can be more hearty as young plants when compared to clones, mainly because seeds have a strong taproot. You can plant seeds directly into an outdoor garden in early spring, even in cool, wet climates.
If growing outside, some growers prefer to germinate seeds inside because they are delicate in the beginning stages of growth. Indoors, you can give weed seedlings supplemental light to help them along, and then transplant them outside when big enough.
Most seeds that you will buy are regular seeds as described above, but here are a couple more types.
How weed seeds work
Cannabis can be either male or female—also called “dioecious”—but only females produce the buds we all know and love. For reproduction, males have pollen sacs and pollinate females, causing female flowers to produce seeds.
Once cannabis seeds are mature, the female plant begins to die, and seeds are either dropped to the ground where they grow into new cannabis plants next spring, or the seeds are harvested for processing into seed oil or food products, or stored so they can be sown in the ground later and become the next generation of plants.
To get the buds found in medical and recreational stores, female cannabis plants are grown in an environment without males—or the males are removed from the area before they release pollen—so the females don’t create seeds. Females can then focus their energies on producing buds and not seeds—this high-potency marijuana is traditionally known as “sinsemilla,” meaning “seedless.”
Some varieties of cannabis can produce male parts alongside female flowers on the same plant, especially if exposed to environmental stressors. These plants are known as hermaphrodites, and sometimes they can self-pollinate to create seeds.
Pros and cons of using cannabis seeds
Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .
If buying from a reputable breeder or seed bank, growing from seed is the best way to ensure your plants will have solid genetics and start clean, meaning they won’t come with diseases or pests.
Also, buying from a reputable breeder or seed bank will give you a sense of what a particular strain will look and smell like, how it will grow, and how much it will yield at harvest.
The main drawback to growing from seed is there is no guarantee as to what you’ll end up with—if you buy a regular pack of cannabis seeds, it will be a mix of males and females. You’ll need to sex them out (more below) to identify the males and get rid of them, because you don’t want your females producing seeds.
Sexing marijuana plants can be a time-consuming process, and if you don’t catch males, there is a risk that even one males can pollinate your entire crop, causing all of your female weed plants to produce seeds.
One way to avoid sexing plants is to buy feminized seeds (more below), which ensures every seed you plant will be a bud-producing female.
You can also minimize headaches and avoid the hassle of seed germination and sexing plants by starting with clones.
How weed clones work
Aside from producing cannabis through seeds, or sexual reproduction, you can also reproduce the plant through cloning, or asexual reproduction. A clone is a cutting that is genetically identical to the plant it was taken from—that plant is known as the “mother.”
Pros and cons of using cannabis clones
Through cloning, you can create a new harvest with exact replicas of your favorite plant. Because genetics are identical, a clone will give you a plant with the same characteristics as the mother, such as flavor, cannabinoid profile, yield, grow time, etc. So if you come across a specific strain or phenotype you really like, you might want to clone it to reproduce more buds that have the same effects and characteristics.
With cloning, you don’t have to get new seeds every time you want to grow another plant—you just take a cutting of the old plant—and you don’t have to germinate seeds or sex them out and get rid of the males.
One drawback of clones is they need to be taken during the vegetative stage of a plant—flower is too late—so if you have a small setup with only one light, it can be hard to keep clones alive while flowering other plants, because the two need different amounts of light.
Another drawback to clones is they can take on negative traits from the mother plant as well. If the mother has a disease, attracts pests, or grows weak branches, its clones will probably have the same issues.
Additionally, every long-time grower will tell you that clones degrade over time.
What are feminized cannabis seeds?
Feminized cannabis seeds will produce only female plants for getting buds, so there is no need to remove males or worry about female plants getting pollinated. Feminized seeds are produced by causing the monoecious condition in a female cannabis plant—the resulting seeds are nearly identical to the self-pollinated female parent, as only one set of genes is present.
This is sometimes referred to as “cloning by seed” and will not produce any male plants. This is achieved through several methods:
- By spraying the plant with a solution of colloidal silver, a liquid containing tiny particles of silver
- Through a method known as rodelization, in which a female plant pushed past maturity can pollinate another female
- Spraying seeds with gibberellic acid, a hormone that triggers germination (this is much less common)
Most experienced or commercial growers will not use feminized seeds because they only contain one set of genes, and these should never be used for breeding purposes. However, a lot of beginning growers start with feminized seeds because they eliminate the worry of having to deal with male plants.
Top feminized cannabis strain families
A lot of classic weed strains that have been around for a while come in feminized form. Some popular fem seeds are:
- OG Kush
- GSC (Cookies)
What are autoflowering cannabis seeds?
Autoflowering seeds are also popular with beginning growers. They are easy to grow because you don’t have to worry about light cycles and how much light a plant receives.
Most cannabis plants begin flowering when the amount of light they receive on a daily basis reduces. Outdoors, this happens when the sun starts setting earlier in the day as the season turns from summer to autumn. Indoor growers can control when a plant flowers by reducing the daily amount of light plants receive from 18 hours to 12 hours.
However, a type of cannabis called Cannabis ruderalis, which developed in extreme northern conditions without much sunlight, will begin flowering once the plant reaches a certain age—they automatically start flowering regardless of the amount of light they receive, hence the name “autoflower.”
Pros and cons of growing autoflower
Because they grow and flower quicker, growers can fit in multiple autoflower cannabis harvests into the span of one regular harvest.
Autoflowers can be started in early spring and will flower during the longest days of summer, taking advantage of high quality light to get bigger yields. Or, if you get a late start in the growing season, you can start autoflowers in May or June and harvest in the fall.
Also, autoflower plants are small—perfect for closet grows or any small grow, or growing outdoors where you don’t want your neighbors to see what you’re up to.
A couple big drawbacks, though: Autoflower strains are known for being less potent. Also, because they are small in stature, they usually don’t produce big yields.
However, potency in autoflowering varieties has increased significantly since their initial introduction, with some breeders crossbreeding the low-THC ruderalis with other more potent varieties.
Tips for growing autoflower marijuana seeds
Autoflowering strains require some preparation, as they will grow quickly and start to flower whether or not you’re ready for them.
Many marijuana growers start autoflowers early in the season, and at a different time than a regular crop, so keep the season and climate in mind when growing and harvesting—your plants still need warmth to grow, and rain can give them bud rot. Consider growing in a greenhouse to protect them.
Because training happens during vegetative growth, for autoflowering plants, this period could be as short as a few weeks, which means time is limited. Try topping your autoflowers after they have three nodes, and stop once they begin to flower. You will want to prune them lightly.
Go easy on nutrients
Autoflowers don’t need lots of nutrients because they’re small and don’t spend much time in the vegetative cycle. They won’t need as much veg nutrients—such as nitrogen—but will need more bloom nutrients.
What are high-CBD cannabis seeds?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the chemical components—known collectively as cannabinoids—found in the cannabis plant. Over the years, humans have selected plants for high-THC content, making cannabis with high levels of CBD rare. The genetic pathways through which THC is synthesized by the plant are different than those for CBD production.
Cannabis used for hemp production has been selected for other traits, including a low THC content, so as to comply with the 2018 Farm Bill. Consequently, many varieties of hemp produce significant quantities of CBD.
As interest in CBD as a medicine has grown, many breeders have crossed high-CBD hemp with cannabis. These strains have little or no THC, 1:1 ratios of THC and CBD, or some have a high-THC content along with significant amounts of CBD (3% or more).
Seeds for these varieties are now widely available online and through dispensaries. It should be noted, however, that any plant grown from these seeds is not guaranteed to produce high levels of CBD, as it takes many years to create a seed line that produces consistent results. A grower looking to produce cannabis with a certain THC to CBD ratio will need to grow from a tested and proven clone or seed.
How to germinate marijuana seeds
Germination is the process in which a seed sprouts and begins to grow into a new plant. Also referred to as “popping,” germination is the very first step in starting your weed grow.
Marijuana seeds can be acquired from an array of sources and can vary in quality. For more info on how to buy marijuana seeds, check out our Guide to buying cannabis seeds.
Cannabis seeds require three things to germinate: water, heat, and air. There are many methods to germinate seeds, but for the most common and simplest method, you will need:
- Two clean plates
- Four paper towels
- Distilled water
Take four sheets of paper towels and soak them with distilled water. The towels should be soaked but shouldn’t have excess water running off.
Take two of the paper towels and place them on a plate. Then, place the marijuana seeds at least an inch apart from each other and cover them with the remaining two water-soaked paper towels.
To create a dark, protected space, take another plate and flip it over to cover the seeds, like a dome.
Make sure the area the seeds are in is warm, somewhere between 70-85°F.
After completing these steps, it’s time to wait. Check the paper towels once a day to make sure they’re still saturated, and if they are losing moisture, apply more water to keep the seeds happy.
Some seeds germinate very rapidly while others can take a while, but generally, seeds should germinate in 3-10 days. If it’s been two weeks and a seed hasn’t sprouted, it’s probably a dud and won’t sprout.
A seed has germinated once the seed splits and a single sprout appears. The sprout is the taproot, which will become the main stem of the plant, and seeing it is a sign of successful germination.
It’s important to keep the delicate seed sterile, so don’t touch the seed or taproot as it begins to split.
Transplanting germinated cannabis seeds
Once you see the taproot, it’s time to transfer your germinated seed into its growing medium, such as soil.
- Fill a 4-inch or one-gallon pot with loose, airy potting soil
- Water the soil before you put the seed in; it should be wet but not drenched
- Poke a hole in the soil with a pen or pencil—the rule of thumb is: make the hole twice as deep as the seed is wide
- Using a pair of tweezers, gently place the seed in the hole with the taproot facing down
- Lightly cover it with soil
Keep a close eye on the temperature and moisture level of the soil to keep the seed happy. It’s very delicate at this stage. Use a spray bottle to water it—over-watering can suffocate and kill the delicate sprout.
Within a week or so you should see a seedling begin to grow from the soil.
Germinating cannabis seeds doesn’t always go as planned. Some seeds will be duds. Others will be slow and take longer to sprout. But some will pop quickly and grow rapidly.
This is the beauty of seeds—often, you can tell which plants or genetics will thrive right from the get-go. This will help you determine which plants you want to take cuttings from for clones or for breeding if you want to create a seed bank of your own.
How to sex a pot plant
Check out Johanna’s full video series on how to grow weed on Leafly’s YouTube .
As we’ve mentioned, cannabis is a dioecious plant, meaning male and female reproductive organs appear on different plants.
Because only female cannabis plants produce buds and you want them to focus all their energy on producing buds and not seeds, it’s important to identify and get rid of male weed plants so they don’t pollinate females. If females are pollinated, it will give you buds filled with seeds, making your weed harsh and unpleasant.
Cultivating males is important for breeders trying to cross new strains and genetics, but most people growing for buds will want to remove the males.
As mentioned above, you can skip the processing of sexing weed plants by growing with feminized seeds or clones.
If growing male and female cannabis seeds, they’ll start to show their sex organs, or “pre-flowers,” after 8-10 weeks from germination.
Cannabis plant sex organs appear on nodes, the points where branches grow off from the main stalk.
Males will have round balls—these will develop into pollen sacs, which will release pollen into the air when mature.
Females will have a round structure with long hairs—these hairs will develop into pistils, which will catch pollen in the air.
Pre-flowers can initially be extremely small and hard to identify with the naked eye, but you can use a magnifying glass to get a better look.
Can I grow a seed I found in a bag of weed?
Finding a cannabis seed in your stash is not ideal, but we’ve all been there before. Although much less common than it once was, it still happens. Sometimes you’ll notice one when grinding down some flower, or you’ll see one pop, spark, and crackle from the heat of a lit bowl.
These are referred to as “bagseeds” and whether or not you can grow one will depend on where it came from.
Is a bagseed good or bad?
Seeds found in finished cannabis buds can develop for a number of reasons. For example, a male plant may have accidentally pollinated a flowering female during the growing process. But more commonly, they’re a sign of stress and can be attributed to high temperatures during the final stages of flowering or an exaggerated spike in climate or environment.
Seeds can also form in plants with genetic disorders or instability, like hermaphrodites—plants that develop both male and female reproductive parts. Generally, stress and genetic disorders are viewed as bad, so temper expectations with any plant you start from a bagseed.
But sometimes you get lucky and find a mature seed in some really nice herb. Strains like the legendary Chemdog wouldn’t be possible without adventurous smokers planting and proliferating the seeds they found in a bag of kind bud.
So don’t discount bud because it has a seed or two in it. While not ideal, it could be the origins of the next great weed strain.
Ask yourself a few questions to decide if it’s worth the time and energy to grow the seed.
Was the seed found in good weed?
If you don’t like the flavor, effects, or even the look of the bud, then it’s probably not worth growing.
Are you ready to grow?
Growing marijuana takes a certain level of commitment: time, energy, and financial resources, so be sure you can commit to the whole process.
Is the seed viable?
For a seed to be viable, it must be mature enough to have a completely formed genetic blueprint, and it must be strong enough to germinate and pop through its hard casing and sprout its crucial taproot.
There are a few indicators that will give you a sense of whether the seed is worth germinating.
- Tiger stripes—dark stripes on the seed which resemble veins on a leaf are generally good
- Solid shell—a seed should be able to withstand a little pressure when pinched between your fingers; if it crumbles or cracks, it’s no good
Immature seeds tend to be light in color and have a soft outer shell.
In some cases, even if a seed isn’t completely mature, there’s still a chance it could be viable. But often these are extremely weak, take long to develop, and express other unfavorable characteristics. Growers usually discard weak plants to free up space.
You might also find a mature seed that has been physically damaged through poor handling, like rough trimming. In those cases, it probably isn’t worth the effort to try and germinate the seed.
But if the seed you found looks decent, you might as well germinate it and see what sprouts.
Time to germinate
Viable or not, there’s only one sure way to find out if a bagseed will grow. If you’re simply curious to learn and not as concerned with the overall outcome, you can plant a couple of bagseeds outside and see what happens.
If you’re ready for a more serious approach, make sure you have the space for a proper garden and pop the seeds to see what fruit they bear.
Even if your seed sprouts fast and grows vigorously, it still has roughly a 50/50 chance of being female and producing buds, instead of turning out to be a male.
Remember, once a seed germinates, the real work begins. Sexing, selecting, vegetative growth, flowering, and the eventual harvest all lie ahead.
How to buy cannabis seeds
Cannabis seeds can be found on numerous online seed banks, but note that it is illegal to bring seeds into the US and Customs will seize any cannabis seeds that they find in packages or on a person. In legal and medical states, you may purchase seeds at a dispensary.