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PSA: Don’t Smoke Those Stems

These are crazy times, so it’s not that weird that you’re looking at your bowl of weed stems and contemplating smoking them. Waste not, want not, right?

As nice as it is to reduce waste and be resourceful, smoking stems isn’t the way to go.

If stems are all you have left, then you’ve already smoked the good stuff.

Stems contain almost no THC. What little may be in there doesn’t even come close to being enough to produce a high.

The negligible amount of THC in stems isn’t worth the unpleasant effects and risk to your lungs that come with smoking.

Inhaling smoke harms your lungs. It doesn’t matter if it’s bud, seed, tobacco, or burning wood. Toxins and carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) are released from the combustion of materials, even stems. This damages your lungs and increases your risk for cancer and heart and lung diseases.

Smoke effects aside, smoking stems can cause:

  • a raging headache
  • a sore throat
  • coughing

It’ll also taste like you’re smoking wood chips.

Some people on Reddit and other forums who admit to having smoked weed stems also reported uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms, like nausea and abdominal pain.

Nope. You shouldn’t smoke those either.

Marijuana seeds aren’t going to get you high no matter how many you crush and smoke. There’s just not enough THC in the seeds to produce any effects.

Lighting them up will create a lot of snap, crackle, and pop. The acrid smoke will irritate your throat and damage your lungs like other smoke. But that’s about it.

Stems and seeds aren’t worth smoking, but that doesn’t mean they’re entirely useless. You may be able to use lingering stems and seeds. Exactly what you can do with them depends on how many you have.

If you just have a few seeds kicking around, you could plant them and try growing your own stash (if you live in an area where this is permitted, of course).

Have an abundance of stems and seeds to play with? Consider eating it.

Here are some ways to make it appetizing.

Brew some stem tea

Before getting your brew on, you’ll want to bake the stems on a baking sheet in the oven for around 45 minutes at 225°F (107°C). When done, let the stems cool, and then grind them up.

Put your ground stems in a tea diffuser and let them steep in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. If you don’t have a diffuser, you can steep your ground stems in a pot of boiling water and then place a coffee filter over your mug and pour so it strains your brew.

Make stem butter

Who doesn’t like butter?

Just like when making tea from weed stems, you’ll want to bake your stems in the oven at 225°F (107°C) for 45 minutes and let them cool before grinding.

Place some butter in a pan and melt over low heat. Once the butter’s completely melted, add the ground stems and let simmer for around 30 minutes, stirring often.

To strain it, cheesecloth works best. Just secure the cheesecloth over a glass jar with a rubber band, and slowly pour the butter over the cloth. Let the butter cool and — voilà — stem butter!

It might be tempting to smoke all those stems that are gathering dust in your jar, but you may want to think twice before lighting up.

Yes, You Can Smoke Hemp. And Yes, It’s Gaining Popularity

When Congress legalized hemp farming at the end of last year, CNN’s Harmeet Kaur wrote: “. if you try to smoke hemp, you’ll probably just end up with a headache.”

Kaur may not be spending enough time in Vermont.

Advocates have been at pains to differentiate marijuana, the psychoactive cannabis flower people smoke, from hemp, marijuana’s non-psychoactive relative. But increasingly, Vermonters are smoking hemp buds in the same way Americans have smoked marijuana buds for a hundred years.

“Oh my gosh, they did not do good research,” Kelsy Raap said when I told her about the CNN story.

Raap and her family own Green State Gardner, a cannabis garden store and CBD retailer. There, employees carefully cultivate hemp flower specifically for smoking. That old headache myth? Raap said that’s a relic from the days when hemp plants were only cultivated to make fibers for textiles.

(Having now tried a hemp joint, I can confirm: it didn’t give me a headache.)

At her store in Burlington, Raap gestured to the display case, and apologized. She was out of hemp flower.

“It’s sold out,” she said. Even after doubling their growing capacity, Raap said, “we keep having trouble keeping up with the demand.” Raap did have pre-rolled hemp joints for sale.

There are three reasons Raap said her customers smoke hemp.

Some mix it with today’s extra-potent marijuana to mellow it out, which Raap called “a salad.”

Others desire the purported therapeutic effects of CBD, such as relief from insomnia and anxiety. Smoking, Raap said, offers a faster delivery of CBD than digesting extracts. (Research on CBDs is still early days.)

And, Raap said, many people long for the “ritual of the smoking,” and appreciate that hemp is neither addictive nor psychoactive.

Outside Joey Verga’s hemp store Green Leaf Central in Burlington, hemp farmer Fred Morin said he smokes hemp flower in order to relax.

“If I wanted to smoke pot, but I don’t want to be [high],” Verga said, he’d smoke a hemp joint instead.

Whatever the motivation to smoke, Vermont’s hemp retailers agreed: business is good.

Jonathan Miller is general counsel for U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a national hemp lobbying group.

“Smokeable hemp is a very small part of the hemp and CBD marketplace,” he said, “but it seems to be the one that’s growing most rapidly.”

If a cannabis plant is .3 percent THC (the psychoactive chemical) or greater by dry weight, it’s marijuana, according to the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018; anything lower is hemp. And while Vermont has not legalized marijuana for sale outside of medical dispensaries (yet), it is legal to sell hemp, and to smoke it.

It’s also profitable.

“My name is David Hull and my company is VPR.”

That’s what David Hull said when I asked him to introduce himself for the radio. To be clear, Hull is not a colleague.

“Vermont Pre-Rolls is a company that makes an herbal joint out of Vermont hemp,” he explained.

Hull rolls and packages the joints in Brattleboro, then sells them around Vermont and out of state. He said he is increasingly selling to cafes and boutiques in New York, and bars and clubs in Florida, where you can still smoke indoors. Although about a half dozen states have banned smokeable hemp, it’s legal in most states.

“It was an explosive start,” Hull said. Since then, it’s been steadily growing.

Both Hull and Raap say they started their smokable hemp products in part as placeholders — a way to get a foothold before marijuana is legal for retail. Both were surprised by the degree of demand.

Both also feel conflicted about selling combustible products designed to be inhaled. The research is pretty conclusive: smoking is bad for health.

“It doesn’t feel great but it doesn’t feel horrible,” Hull said. He noted he feels no worse selling hemp joints than he did in his last job, raising animals for slaughter. The meat tasted great, he said, but it was bad for the animals who died, bad for the environment, and not exactly healthy for his customers, either.

At least with hemp, he said, “I’d like to think I’m helping some people smoke less pot, and fewer cigarettes.”

When Congress legalized hemp farming at the end of last year, CNN’s Harmeet Kaur wrote : “… if you try to smoke hemp, you'll probably just end up with a