Interview with Jorge Cervantes

Steven Voser

We met up with Jorge Cervantes to talk about all things related to growing cannabis. Watch this great interview with Jorge at CannaConnection!

Jorge Cervantes has been growing marijuana since the 70’s and is famous for his books and videos on cultivating marijuana. Many see him as the original Guru of cultivation and worship the knowledge this man has on the beloved plant we like to call weed.

We met up with Jorge to talk about all things related to growing cannabis and it was a great experience to hear the man talk. Jorge talked about why he thinks growing outdoors is the way to go and probably the future for most growers.

He sheds a little light on the sun vs LED light, medicinal marijuana, his favourite strains, his personal garden and shares his thoughts on Big Pharma and the possible arrival of genetically modified cannabis plants (GMO cannabis).

Interview transcript

Renzo: So, welcome Jorge! I am sitting here for CannaConnection with the guru of growing marijuana for the last 3 or 4 decenia almost; you’re the number one man. How you’re doing Jorge?

Jorge: Really well! We’re here at Spannabis 2017 in Barcelona Spain, out in Cornella. I don’t know how many they’ve had out here, like 10 or 15 of these Spannabisses, but I think I have been every one of them. I live here so it’s real easy. But it’s a beautiful day here, I’m loving it.

Renzo: Thank you for taking the time to sit down with us for a minute. I think our viewers would like to hear a bit from the man himself how things are going. You’re doing good I suppose?

Jorge: Oh yeah, I’m doing real well. I mean how can I not do well? Cannabis is becoming legal all over the world. Not just here in Spain… well things are moving are moving along here in Spain, but it’s decriminalised in Israël, there’s a half a dozen countries in Europe that are decriminalising (cannabis) or made it medicinal. It’s medicinal here in Spain so that’s great. And then in America it’s just gone crazy. There are 8 states that are recreational and almost 30 that are medicinal states. So this is my wildest dream coming true. It’s wonderful.

Renzo: What would be the more important part of decriminalisation for you? Do you think it’s the medicinal side of it? Or do you believe that everywhere it should just be recreational, open for everybody? Everything.

Jorge: Well look. This plant came way before people did. It’s as old a rose plant and it should be legal. It’s just a plant. It’s a wonderful plant. It’s the only one that has cannabinoids. We have CB1 and CB2 receptors in our body and they say there is many more. They are working on evidence of that now. We developed, humans, animals developed with cannabis. That’s why have these receptors in our body. So, it should be legal 100%, we shouldn’t think about anything else. It’s man that really screwed things up and made it illegal.

Renzo: Basically we shouldn’t even be discussing it…

Jorge: That’s right. We should be talking about how to grow more and better.

Renzo: Do you think there is a lot more to develop when it comes to medicinal marijuana and the usage of medicinal marijuana? Last few years people became aware that CBD is a different thing than THC and this might open doors for other things, but we’re a couple of years further now. Do you think we have a couple of more steps to do still?

Jorge: Oh yeah there is a ton of work to do still. Actually CBD was discovered by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and that was back in the 60’s. So there has very little been done with CBD. I’ve got friends and people that have been working on it for almost 10 years now and there are tons of studies to do.

The United States are leaders right now and soon Israel will out-do them because it wil be more legal there. But the only tests that were done before, untill about 10 years ago, were forensic tests by the police. Just to see how strong your dope was and to make the police look better. But now, finally, I am so happy they are studying it medicinally and they’re doing all kinds of tests. You know they’ve decoded the genome.

Dr. Craig Venter decoded the genome several years ago and there is a company called Phylos Bioscience, you can go to their site and you will see the results of over 2000 genomes of cannabis that have been decyphered and mapped and stuff. So the knowledge level is just right at the beginning. And then also, the thing with testing is that with the digital age it has become so much less expensive. So since it’s so economical to do, we can do a lot more because we have to catch up for the last 70 years of prohibition.

Renzo: Do you think that at some point the big, evil and cooperative medicinal world will take over from the now dedicated cannabis growers? That they will out-do us and make money from it?

Jorge: They’re doing it right now. They are already doing it. Yes, they are all over it. There is so many people, business people, waiting like vultures, just for a couple of laws to change. The biggest one is banking. As soon as banking changes and they are able to get in on it, it’s going to be crazy. There is already so much speculation going into it.

There is a company called Tweet, up in Canada, the is the Arcview Group and there is the other one, the Kennedy’s are in charge of it, I forget the name right now. Anyway, they are all jumping on it. The Arcview Group is the least bad of them all but yeah, big money is coming in. All the small growers they are going to get pushed out.

The biggest thing I am hoping for is that it will be legal to grow in your backyard. By individuals that is. The thing I noticed when I was in Oregon after recreational use became legal there, is that there was not one city block in the whole city of Portland for instance, that doesn’t have a marijuana garden in it.

Renzo: You mean like communal gardens?

Jorge: No not communal, because people have atonomous houses there. So they just grow. They can grow up to 4 to 6 plants in the backyard. That’s happening everywhere. And the other thing that is happening is that the whole market is changing. Right now it’s about 3000 euro’s for a kilo and those prices are going to drop.

At the moment in America it’s about 3000 euro’s a kilo, but some are already getting only 1500 euro’s for a kilo for a lot of the cannabis. The price is just going down. And another thing, if we think about CBD, there is a lot of people growing just hemp, for the CBD.

Renzo: Without THC?

Jorge: Exactly. CBD cannabidiol, that’s the no-high cannabis. Which is great medicinally. For example; one of my friends has a farm of 100 hectares on Oregon. He was a grass seed grower before. So his whole family for the last 3 generations has been farming and those guys know what they’re doing. It’s not like somebody that had to hide in the closet, litterally. And you know, these guys are just going to win. They have 80 horsepower tractors!

Renzo: Well this might also be the best opportunity for our society to take this growing culture out of the more shady side of our society right?

Jorge: Oh I am so happy to see that! Like I said at the beginning; this is a plant that has been involved with human beings and was here way before we were and there is no reason for it to be illegal. And that’s why we have to catch up 70 years of prohibition in the next 10 years really. Or less even. So it’s so healthy to see it come out of the closet.

And it’s so healthy to do that because I’ve got so many friends that have been in jail and their lives have been ruined, their children have been taken away, their property has been taken… And that’s still happening. They’re still arresting people, maffia, guns, everything that’s ugly… And there is no reason for any of that. It’s very very sad. The plant didn’t do anything to deserve that.

Renzo: You keep speaking about friends and other people that have a small garden and are growing plants. But let’s talk about indoor growers. In the last few years there have been huge developments in the field. New techniques, new kind of LED lamps, new kind of feeding techniques etc. What’s your point of view on these hypes? LED lamps for instance. Do you believe in LED lamps?

Jorge: Well, LED lights have really changed substancially over the last 2 or 3 years. There are a lot of different elements with those, because manufacturing is a big issue. How they are manufactured mostly. LED lights, or Light Emmiting Diodes is what LED means of course, they’re not created equal. There are some brands that are just way better than others.

Osram is one and Cree is another one. There is also so much bad information given about them and hyped and what not, but yeah they have gotten a lot better. But see, one thing that cannot change, is the physical principle. Light diminishes to the square of the distance. That means that the further away the plant is from the light, the less light it receives. So that can’t change, it’s like gravity. We can’t change gravity.

So it’s got some limitations to it, but it has improved. They use less electricity, they’re more efficient, and you can dial in a spectrum for them. I mean a light spectrum (the colour in the spectrum). They’re going to be around for a long time. But to be perfectly honoust, they’re just too expensive. Just like indoor growing is too expensive. People are going to be moving towards outdoor growing or in greenhouses.

This is so much more efficient and less expensive. What is going to dominate is not the technology of the lamps, but what’s going to dominate it is the economics with the price. The price is coming down.

Renzo: This is a major prediction you’re making now. We’re in 2017 and hopefully we have a long way to go, but you think this is going to happen first?

Jorge: Oh we’ll see, it all depends on the laws. As soon as one of the laws changes, that’s what will dictate everything. For example, I live part time in Spain, and they do an incredible amount of vegetable growing here, especially in the South, they supply a good deal of Europe from here.

And I also share part of my time with California, which is the biggest agricultural state of the Nation. And none of the farmers grow indoors. It’s crazy! You’ve got this free thing up here called sunlight. Free! Sunlight! You can control the temperature, you can black it out. You know cannabis is photoperiodic reactive. It takes 12 hours of darnkess for it to flower but there is other things they do genetically so we will overcome that.

So it’s all going to come down to economics and the inprice of cannabis. That’s what it’s going to come down to and as soon as the laws change in the favour of cannabis, nobody will care about growing indoors.

Renzo: When I grew up and started my growing experiences, I remember those classic videos of you; with the sunglasses and the hair and the back tents. Are you still having a good time hobbying around and what is your favorite thing to do, if to do it just for the love of the plant?

Jorge: Oh wow, well my favorite thing to do is to go to outdoor gardens and grow outdoors. I love growing outdoors.

Renzo: Also in glasshouses, or just really outdoors in the open?

Jorge: Just outdoors. You see, unless you need it for medical reasons, and then here is another thing with growing outdoors; you can grow outdoors, and you can take the acive ingredients, the cannabinoids, there is 70 or 80 different cannabinoids in the plant, depending on how you want to look at them, and split them all out and ad them all back together and make your own brew, your own mix.

And that’s what’s happening now. So it’s way cheaper to grow 100 hectares of cannabis and take the harvested plants into the lab, separate everything out and make whatever concoction or drug you want. That’s much more efficient and everything. For example with poppies, they do the same.

Renzo: But then in the end, does it even matter what strain you’re growing? Of course you might want to grow a plant that has at least some THC or some CBD. And there are some mayor players in the market that have 25 or even 30 different strains and come up with something new each year, but what you are saying is that you can separate everything down to almost the zeros and ones and take whatever you need from the plant?

Jorge: Almost. It just comes down to money and economics all the time. What happens is that some plants are incredibly rich with THC, CBD and some with THCV. There is all kinds of different cannabinoids, so the one that produces the most of a certain cannabinoid and that’s least expensive to grow, that’s where they are going to put their energy.

It’s that simple. They are going to be developing plants that don’t get powdery milldew for example. Plants that don’t get Botrytis or But Rot. They’re developing plants with stronger branches. All of that is just as important as the cannabinoid profile. So like I say, it just comes down to economics every time.

Renzo: But do you think then that at some point we will have genetically manipulated, GMO plants?

Jorge: They’re already working on it.

Renzo: Yeah that’s what I thought.

Jorge: Well GMO is one thing. GMO is where they take one gene out and splice another one in. From a Basil Ocimum Genesis or from another entity completely. That’s going to happen. I can’t get a hold of any proof, but I know from the people I have talked to that Monsanto is already onto it.

Renzo: This was to be expected of course.

Jorge: Yeah, you see the thing is about cannabis, is that it is quite an easy plant to manipulate and there’s been very little done with it. So, it’s going to happen.

Renzo: A personal question; I suppose that you are still lighting up a bud every now and then. What is your personal favorite? And what is for you the way to go, strain wise?

Jorge: Well actually I haven’t changed much over the years. You know there have been a lot of new things over the last few years, strawberry cough for instance. But I don’t really pay attention to the new varieties because that all just sales and marketing and people just need something new. They feel better if they’ve got something new.

My favorite of all times has been Haze. The one that I smoke all the time is still Northern Lights nr5 crossed with Haze. They both excellent plants, they produce very well, very potent and everything else.

Renzo: Is this also what you have in your personal garden at the moment?

Jorge: No actually I have been growing different things. Because I make growvideo’s and pleople get tired watching the same plants all the time. So I have been growing a lot of different stuff. I have been growing the Diesel, several Kushes, they all start to look the same although there’s a little deviation. There were several volunteer plants in the garden.

What else… Blue Dream did really well. I liked that one, I did really well. Really sugery. So I experiment with stuff so I can see the deviation. Usually I have a Sativa dominant bed and an Indica bed. And then another one that’s whatever I have.

And then I also have quite a few high CBD plants. But myself, I spend a lot of time on the road and last year I grew about 4,5 kilos. And I spent only 10 hours, total time, growing that.

Renzo: But you know exactly what you’re doing. This guy, he has the most experience of all of us.

Jorge: But you see, anybody can do that. It’s not difficult. They call it a weed. It’s quite an easy plant to grow.

Renzo: It does take little bit of practice though right?

Jorge: Well yeah, I guess so, it does. I tend to hang out only with experts… so you know…

Renzo: Any tips for the beginning growers out there? For the ones who think; Yes, I want to do it like Jorge! 10 hours of work and 4,5 kilos of weed! What should they be on the lookout for? Where can it go wrong and what are the most common mistakes?

Jorge: The first thing you want to do is get your plants in the ground very early in the year. Put out cuttings or seedlings that are at least 30 centimeters tall. Put them out right after the last frost. Make sure you have very good soil. Develop your own organic soil. Try to work it the year before, don’t just ad a bunch of stuff and then just plant.

That’s crazy and it’s also very expensive. The soil is key. And you want full sun all the time. When you transplant, makes sure the transplants go well as it is the most critical moment. Never let the plants run out of water. And if you can’t plant in mother earth, don’t plant in a container.

Renzo: So no coco, you say earth is the way to go?

Jorge: Yes, definitely. Organic soil. One last thing. I’ve got a new book called “The Cannabis Encyclopedia”. You can find this on Amazon, it’s a big purple book. It’s twice as the Bible and it’s a new book. You should also check out my website and my YouTube account. Just type in my name, Jorge Cervantes, and you will find over 250 videos, all about cultivation. You’ll love ‘em.

Renzo: Thank you Jorge.

Jorge: Thank you so much.

Steven Voser
Steven Voser

Steven is a long-time veteran of cannabis journalism, having delved into every aspect of the subject. His particular interests lie in cannabis culture, the emerging science of cannabis, and how it is shaping the legal landscape across the globe.