There are many opinions on the proper way to trim a medical marijuana plant. I personally do it in two stages. The first stage is to remove large fan leaves. This process can be done by hand or with a trimming scissors. Some people save the large fan leaves for making baked goods, but I usually dispose of them.
The second stage is a secondary trim of sugar leaves around the buds. You can use trimming scissors or a trim machine for this process. I highly recommend doing the second stage when the plants are still wet because the leaves are easier to remove when they are not stuck to the buds.
One common rumor is, if left on, these leaves will help protect the trichomes on the buds during drying. This is simply not true. I found more trichomes are damaged trying to remove these leaves after they have dried to the buds. Save all the trimmings from the second stage. These trimmings contain many trichomes and make excellent hash or baked goods.
After you have trimmed the excess leaf matter off your buds, hang them up to dry. You can use a drying rack or wire/twine. I’ve heard the rumor that a plant needs to be hung upside down so the THC will run down to the buds. Again, not true. The THC and other cannabinoids are produced by the plant when it is still alive. Cannabinoid levels within medical marijuana do not change in the drying process.
When hanging up your plants, make sure to leave enough room between buds to enable good air flow. Without proper air flow mold and mildew can occur. The drying process works best in an environment with total darkness and decent, but not too aggressive, air circulation. The ideal environment for a drying room is a temperature of 70-80 degrees F and a humidity level of around 40%.
Plants store their sugars in the form of starches because this is a stable, insoluble form of the sugars. As the plant grows and needs simple sugars, it breaks down the starch. Something similar happens when drying medical marijuana. When the plant dries, the starches within the plant are converted into simple sugars. It is these simple sugars that give your medicine a smooth, sweet flavor and pungent odor.
This process takes time. A proper drying time is 7-14 days. If you rush the process, fewer sugars are produced and you’re left with more starch. Medicine that is dried too quickly is harsh and lacks flavor. Do not use a dehydrator or a microwave to dry your buds. Even in times of desperation this only ensures a disgusting representation of your plant’s potential.
For the smoothest of flavors, some growers like to elongate the curing process by finishing the drying in glass jars. After hanging for 7-10 days, clip buds off the stems and pack them lightly into glass jars. Open everyday for 15 minutes to allow the buds to breath. After a month you can enjoy the sweetest buds on the block.
Need more space for drying? Check out the Advanced Nutrients Quick Cure Drying Rack.