Dear Stoner: What are these "clones" I see advertised? Are people really cloning marijuana plants like that sheep in Scotland?
Dear Dolly: We're actually amassing an army of tiny clone warriors, not unlike in Star Wars — only we're doing it with cannabis plants. The whole peaceful-revolution thing isn't working out, and we've collectively watched a lot of Empire Strikes Back — so it just made sense. Actually, that's not far from the truth. [Mind is blown!]
Seriously, though, clones aren't exactly clones in the Dolly-the-sheep kind of way you're thinking, but they are genetic replications of their source. Freaky, right? In plant terms, though, it's called a cutting. It's as easy as slicing off a tiny branch of a cannabis plant with a razor blade, dipping the sliced end in a type of acid to promote root growth and then putting it in a moist, porous soil or grow medium. With the right conditions, that little branch will sprout roots and grow into an entirely new plant with the same genetic makeup as the one it was taken from. That's how the rarer, more elite strains are passed down from grower to grower.
Growing from seed, however, means that while you generally know what you're going to get when they come up, they could still vary (sometimes wildly) from other seeds taken from the same plant, even if the strain has been stabilized through multiple generations of in-breeding (politely called "backcrossing" in horticulture terminology).
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Dispensaries with appropriate licenses are allowed to sell clones to patients who can then grow them in their home grows. At $10 to $20 a pop at most places, it's just another way for a shop to grow its profits — literally.
Dear Stoner: What ever happened to old metal pipes? Why does everything have to be made of breakable glass now?
Dear IM: Part of me also looks back fondly on the days of acrylic Graffix bongs and screw-together aluminum pipes. Aside from durability, they were all about function — but metal pipes and plastic bongs also aren't the best things for your health. Aluminum may be linked to diseases like Alzheimer's, especially when you're heating it and causing it to put out residual aluminum particles. Same goes for plastic. Glass, on the other hand, can handle the temps without putting off gasses. So while you're more likely to break a glass bowl, you're doing your body a favor in the long run.