The feminized seed

illustration by maria ratinova

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

I keep seeing ads for seeds that are guaranteed to be female. How do they get guaranteed female plants?

—Helo Goils

Good question. Cannabis plants are generally either male or female. The females are the ones we smoke, dab and all that good stuff. The males aren’t great for smoking, but they do create pollen, and we need the pollen for breeding. When you buy a pack of seeds, the odds are that half will be female and half will be male. However, most home growers don’t want any dudes around. Male plants take up space, and if you don’t catch them, they will try to plant seeds in all your girls. Enter the feminized seed. What you do is you spray one of your female plants with chemicals (usually gibberellic acid or colloidal silver) right before it starts to flower. This will turn your female plant into a “hermaphrodite,” and it will start to produce pollen as if it were a male plant. It mimics cannabis’ behavior in the wild, where if there are no boys around, one or two of the females will start to produce pollen to ensure the survival of the plant because life always finds a way. Take the pollen from your hermie and use it to pollinate a different female. That female will produce seeds that are almost all female, probably because no boys were involved, so there’s no male DNA around to mess things up. Some people really, really love feminized seeds because of the bang for the buck. Other folks feel like feminized seeds increase the odds of a plant being prone to hermaphroditism, which leads to lower yields and way more seeds. Science and nature are fascinating. Especially when you’re stoned. Have a good one.

The effect of weed on the lungs, does it help or hinder asthma? I’m talking about the different effects on the lungs of a bong versus a blunt, different rolling papers, pipes/bowls, etc. Something I’m personally interested in knowing.

—Wheezy Jefferson

Cannabis has been a folk remedy for asthma for a long time. Cannabis is a known bronchodilator, meaning that it opens up your airways and whatnot. This can be very helpful for people that have trouble breathing, and studies have shown that cannabis does offer some people relief. However, modern doctors will tell you that smoking anything isn’t a good idea for sensitive lungs. As for smoking methods, stay away from blunts if you have asthma. Duh. Science says that a smooth hit and immediate exhale from a clean glass pipe is the best method. You may want to look into vapes. I have even seen cannabis nebulizers (like an asthma inhaler, but filled with weed!) in some clubs.

Why do I get cold when I smoke weed?

—Stoned Cold Steve

So you can literally “chill out”? Weed effs with your TRPA receptors, which regulate body temperature. Causing some folks to feel cold and some folks to get hot when they smoke. Science.