Mary Jane

The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women


By Cheri Sicard

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“Finally, a thoroughly modern guide to help women become Cannabis Sativa connoisseurs. Welcome to a wonderful examination of weed-a plant worthy of saving the planet and people’s lives.” — Greta Gaines, performing artist and TV host

Covering the aspects of cannabis that matter most to women, Mary Jane takes readers on a guided tour through the new world of marijuana, where using pot can be healthy, fun, stylish, and safe. In Mary Jane, marijuana expert Cheri Sicard reveals everything women have needed to know but may have been afraid to ask about using cannabis. Packed with everyday tips, topics include:

How to Host a Pot Party
Medibles, Edibles, and Other Smoke-Free Options
Easy Recipes for Foodies
Budding Beauty Products
Taking Mary Jane to Bed
Deals and Steals for Your Budget
Gotta-Have-It Gadgets
Grow Your Own Garden
Remedies for Everyday Ailments
Movies & Music
Travel Tips
Pot and Parenting
DIY Pipes and Projects
What the Celebs are Saying

. . . and much more!




Welcome to Mary Jane University, the very best place for your higher education! The very first step we must take is to get one important piece of information out in the open:

Marijuana is safe.

There has never, ever been a single death credibly attributed to marijuana overdose. It is virtually impossible to fatally overdose on weed. You could technically eat enough of it to burst your stomach or choke on it, and there were recent news reports of a South American man who was crushed under thousands of pounds of it, but that’s about it.

The same goes for serious bodily damage in the form of organ failure. It simply does not work that way in the body. Unlike alcohol, many prescription drugs, and a lot of over-the-counter drugs, you are not going to damage your liver, kidneys, lungs, or brain, even with heavy use. And despite the government’s dire warnings and Schedule I drug label, marijuana’s most common side effects are nothing more than dry mouth and mild euphoria. For a nation that’s addicted to antidepressants, that doesn’t sound like such a bad thing!

Now that’s settled, let’s get oriented in the world of weed! If you are lucky enough to live in a state that has legalized marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational use, the days of buying seed-filled, hard-as-a-brick-and-dry-as-a-desert-marijuana are gone. Cannabis options have become so sophisticated! Quality indicas, sativas, hybrids—not to mention a head-spinning array of cannabis strains with wild names like Headband, Strawberry Cough, Sour Diesel, and Girl Scout Cookies—await shoppers at clean, brightly lit marijuana shops.

However, for those who live in states where marijuana remains completely illegal, buyers have to deal with less cultured options, generally called schwag (see page 7 for more on this). But be aware, change is coming everywhere. And soon. And when it does, you will be ready, wherever you live! Let’s get started!


Thousands of individual marijuana strains exist, each with subtle and sometimes not so subtle differences, but virtually all marijuana can be categorized as one of three types: indica, sativa, or hybrid. I say “virtually” because another type exists (Cannabis ruderalis), but the average consumer will likely never encounter this wild-growing subspecies.

You might think of these three categories as the marijuana equivalent of red, white, and blush in wines, under which you can find countless variations. As with wine, some people have a definite preference for one or the other. Most connoisseurs, however, like both, at various occasions and times for various reasons.

While both sativa and indica varieties of Cannabis Sativa (I know, the semantics are confusing) have medicinal properties and both will get you high, there are important differences between the two.

Cannabis Sativa

Plant appearance: Long, tall, thin plants with narrow leaves.

Origins: Southeast Asia, Mexico, Colombia, Thailand.

Effects: Energetic, euphoric, mood-lifting, creative head high.

Medical treatment: Relieves stress, depression, and nausea; stimulates appetite.

Possible downside: Strong sativas can make some people feel anxious or paranoid.

Cannabis Indica

Plant appearance: Shorter, stockier, and denser than sativas with broader leaves.

Origins: Afghanistan, Morocco, Tibet.

Effects: Relaxing body high.

Medical treatment: Relieves chronic pain, muscle spasms, and insomnia.

Possible downside: Strong indicas can induce what is known as “couch-lock,” the state of being so stoned you have zero motivation to move from the sofa.

Many marijuana users are fond of saying, “Sativas will get you high; indicas will get you stoned.” At times you may prefer one effect to the other, but more often than not you will want a little of both.

Enter the hybrid.

Nowadays you’ll rarely find a pure indica or a pure sativa strain; most are in fact hybrids, giving users and growers the best qualities of both. In this third category, hybrids, the variations are endless. The mix might be evenly split between indica and sativa, or 60–40, or 70–30. You get the picture. Once you are familiar with how different strains work for you, you’ll be able to choose strains based on their genetics.

Of course, you don’t have to get nearly so refined. You can just smoke what’s available, enjoy it, have a good time, and leave concern about varieties to others! Either way, now that you know the strains of cannabis, here are a few more common terms to know. They’re a little more slang-like, but key to choosing the pot that’s right for you:

Schwag (usually used as a noun but occasionally as an adjective) is the general term for cheap, low-quality marijuana. When someone mentions schwag, they usually mean dry, compacted weed filled with seeds, stems, and a lot of leaf material, although it can refer to low-grade marijuana in general.

Dank (usually used as an adjective but occasionally as a noun) means the good stuff. It’s green, sticky, fragrant, seedless, and potent. If someone tells you they procured some dank weed, you are definitely going to want to hit that (the weed, not the person)!



Are cannabis and hemp the same thing? It can get confusing because the terms have often been used interchangeably. It is true that both come from the same plant, Cannabis sativa. However, hemp, or industrialized hemp, contains about 0.3–1.5 percent THC (the intoxicating component that makes you feel high), whereas marijuana typically contains 3–10 percent or more. Despite the federal government’s uninformed claims, you will NOT get high smoking hemp. But you can make over 25,000 products from it!

Throughout this book, unless otherwise noted, hemp refers to the non-psychoactive cousin of cannabis or marijuana.

Sinsemilla (sin-seh-mee-ya, noun or adjective), from the Spanish for “without seeds,” is a general term that refers to highly potent, seedless marijuana cultivated from unpollinated female plants. Pretty much anything you get from a reputable dispensary will be sinsemilla.

Shake refers to the broken pieces of buds that are at the bottom of a large bag of marijuana. Think of it as the cannabis equivalent of the crumbs at the bottom of a potato chip bag. Because consumers like big buds, dispensaries and dealers often sell shake at greatly reduced prices, so it can make a great way to get lower cost weed.


What exactly is cannabis made of? Cannabis contains more than sixty active chemicals, collectively known as cannabinoids, which are responsible for its medicinal effects. Cannabinoids are unique to this plant. They are not found anywhere else in nature . . . except in the bodies of living creatures!

That’s right. All living creatures higher than mollusks on the evolutionary scale have an endocannabinoid system (lots more about this in Chapter 6 ) that produces natural or endocannabinoids. What this means in practical terms is that each and every one of us is physiologically programmed to respond to cannabis. That’s why cannabis works so well—it’s perfectly suited to work with the chemistry in our own bodies.

In the documentary What If Cannabis Cured Cancer? Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the Israeli scientist who first isolated THC, says the fact that we have a plant that mimics the body’s natural endocannabinoids is “just a quirk of nature.” Some quirk!

Cannabidiol (CBD) cannabis molecule

THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, dronabinol) cannabis drug molecule


As legal commercial marijuana markets emerge with the coming end of prohibition, laboratory-tested cannabis and cannabis products are becoming the industry standard. Some legal ordinances are already in place in areas of the country that require lab testing. But even where they aren’t, leading industry providers have started providing this service as a matter of quality control and professionalism.

Not all lab tests are created equal, but good ones provide you with enough information to help you make smart choices. The levels of THC and CBD in each strain will give you an idea of how much marijuana you will need to smoke, vaporize, or eat in order to feel the effect. This is especially important with edibles because without this type of labeling it is impossible to know how much you are ingesting (not that ingesting too much is dangerous; uncomfortable perhaps, but not dangerous). Lab testing also makes sure the product is pure, free of mold, bacteria, and pesticides. Dr. Jeffrey Raber, director of the Werc Shop, one of the world’s preeminent testing labs, says that over 25 percent of randomly tested products are contaminated, even more so with cannabis concentrates like waxes and oils. Raber told me that contamination with pesticides might not pose an immediate problem, but over time toxins can build up in the liver and kidneys.

The Werc Shop has published work in the Journal of Toxicology showing that up to 70 percent of the pesticides present on dried flower material can be transferred to the consumer via inhalation, a good argument for the consumer to grow or buy organic marijuana.

Since not all labs are as experienced or as thorough as the Werc Shop, look for clues that you’re dealing with a good one. Labels that tell you the date when the product was tested assure you that what you are getting in the package actually matches what is on the label. Some providers have been known to cut corners by testing a given strain or batch of marijuana-infused edibles once and then assuming that the numbers will apply to all future crops and batches. This is obviously not accurate, especially if different growers cultivated their plants under different conditions.



Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the cannabinoid that gets all the publicity because it’s the component that’s responsible for making you feel high. What most people don’t realize is that it doesn’t even exist in the raw plant. That’s right, eating raw marijuana will not make you high! Adding heat causes decarboxylation, a chemical reaction that converts the raw plant’s THC-A (or acid) into the psychoactive substance THC.

A young Cannabis Indica plant

A mature Cannabis Sativa plant


Home-Testing Kits

The kind of home-testing kits you see popping up in the market might afford a simple internal check across many different samples, something that might be useful for a cultivator in a breeding experiment, but they are inaccurate. According to Dr. Jeffrey Raber of the Werc Shop testing lab, the kits give crude values consistently, but they are not effective at accurately labeling pesticides or microbiological contaminants or analyzing active ingredients.


Sour Diesel, Headband, Strawberry Cough, Blue Dream, Luke Skywalker, Master Yoda, Rolling Thunder, Train Wreck, Jack the Ripper, Purple Urkle, Swerdlow OG—marijuana names have some pretty wild monikers, and these are some of the more polite ones.

The names have actually been around since the 1960s, when Maui Wowie, Panama Red, and Thai Sticks were all the rage, but with the proliferation of medical marijuana and legalization, this type of “branding” has grown like weeds (pun intended).

Connoisseurs well versed in cannabis genetics can sometimes glean clues from the strain names. For instance, I recently procured some fine Cherry Dream grown from seeds produced by master grower and breeder Kyle Kushman. Those in the know can decipher that this strain was born by crossing Blue Dream with Cherry Lopez. More often than not, though, the name has no greater significance than the whim of the person naming it. In many cases that person has a “Beavis and Butthead” level sense of humor.

Cannabis activists bemoan the fact that some of the more offensive strain names, such as Green Crack, God’s Pussy, or Donkey Dick, hurt the movement, as they make it impossible to sell the concept of marijuana as serious medicine. They’ve got a point. But until this infant industry sorts itself out, and arguably even well after, we are stuck with crazy strain names. One plus, however, is that it does make it easier to remember your favorites.


You’ll benefit from keeping some notes on your favorite strains. Think of yourself as a wine connoisseur who keeps tasting notes. Only replace the “wine” with “weed.” Indicate the strain name, how it looked, smelled, and tasted, along with its potency and how it made you feel. Why all the physical descriptions? Because less ethical dispensaries or dealers may say you are getting certain strains when they really have no idea what the strain actually is. If you suspect that to be the case, you can always compare your notes with a reputable book like the Big Book of Buds or an online reference and make sure you are getting what you expect. It’s important, however, to note that that the same strain from a different grower or grown under different conditions will vary, especially in potency.



Essential Terms

Buds or flowers (the terms can be used interchangeably) are the dense buds of the plant. Covered in resinous glands known as trichomes that store the THC acid that will covert to THC upon decarboxylation, flowers represent the prime cuts of the cannabis world.

Tiny trichome-covered sugar leaves surround the buds. Some people like to leave these leaves intact and smoke or vape them along with the flowers (a bit harsher but still trichome-rich if they come from good plants). Sinsemilla snobs want only the buds, and most dispensary marijuana will be free from any leaves. Sugar leaves also make terrific hash (see Chapter 3) or cannabis-infused butter or oil (see Chapter 9).

If you don’t grow your own, you’ll never see fan leaves. While pretty, the ratio of plant materials to trichomes is too high to provide a good smoke. These leaves do have some trichomes, however, and can be used to make lesser grades of hash or in cooking.

You’ll be a sad stoner when you get down to seeds and stems (they’re never called twigs). Seeds are rare to nonexistent these days in good weed unless the plant was bred for that purpose, but common in schwag. If you do happen to find a seed or two in a batch of weed you like, put them aside and turn to Chapter 8.

If you are using cannabis to treat specific medical conditions, there are practical reasons to keep notes because certain ailments respond better to certain strains. Because everyone’s body chemistry is different, what works for your sister-in-law may not work best for you. Notes will help you keep track of how your condition(s) did or did not respond to different strains.

Notes will also allow you to refer back to favorite varieties in order to compare and contrast in the future. Trust me. There are so many different strains on the market these days that, even without the short-term memory loss marijuana is alleged to induce, it would be impossible to recall them all, much less the subtleties of how they affected you.



If you think smoking a joint, or a marijuana cigarette, is the only way to ingest cannabis, this chapter will open a whole new world for you. As cannabis is moving into the mainstream culture and more consumers are becoming interested in marijuana, an enormous array of pipes, bongs, one hitters, and vaporizers are exploding on the market. From party-sized accessories to individual vapor pen electronic “cigarettes,” the ways to enjoy your weed have multiplied at a dizzying rate.

Every year brings better mousetraps. Attend any consumer cannabis expo or industry trade show and you’ll find some amazing and innovative products that belong in the collections of most marijuana aficionados. You’ll also find gadgets that will make you wonder what their inventors were smoking when they came up with that ridiculous idea.

In addition to the wide variety of equipment that helps you inhale marijuana, new consumer products will appeal to marijuana fans of every age and ilk. It is no longer necessary to smoke or even vaporize at all! Edible products of all kinds (see Chapter 9), topicals, and even transdermal patches can now deliver the benefits of cannabis with zero heat, smoke, vapor, or odor involved. Sometimes even without the high. (Yes, Virginia, some people actually do not want to get high.)


Before we explore other ingestion options, let’s start with the aforementioned humble joint, or marijuana cigarette. It’s a classic for a good reason: Joints are inexpensive, easy to carry and smoke, disposable, and sharable. On the downside, they do create a lot of smoke and aroma, so discreet they’re not. If you’re going to roll your own, here are some basics to know from the start:

          Grind your ganja. Grind or break up your plant material so it has an even consistency, and then remove any small stem pieces. (See “Gotta Have It! Grinders” for more.)

          Roll moderately. You want the finished joint to be firm enough that it will not fall apart or burn too fast, but not so tightly wound that it is impossible to inhale through.

          Pick proper papers. Go to any smoke shop and you’ll find an enormous selection of rolling papers. Use the right size for the joint you are rolling—burning paper produces tar and does nothing to get you high, so you don’t need any excess. Consider using a hemp or rice paper to keep the smoke all-natural.

          Place the plant material evenly along the length of your rolling paper’s fold.

          Pick the whole thing up and start rolling back and forth, from the middle to the edges, keeping the plant material evenly distributed. According to one of my coleaders in the NORML Women’s Alliance, if you roll from the middle, the edges will follow and you’ll have a nice even joint instead of a pregnant worm.

          Once you are happy with the size and consistency of the marijuana cylinder, start rolling the excess paper around it. Lick the glue strip, seal that baby up, and you are ready to blaze!

Rolling joints takes a certain amount of practice and skill. Some people pick it up right away. Others go through years of producing joints that resemble a snake that just consumed a gerbil. But if you know how to roll by hand, you will always be prepared in a pinch. Get good at it and you might even win some prizes at joint-rolling contests. And with enough practice, you’ll soon pick up speed and skill.

Your other option is to use a gadget. Even though I am the “Queen of Green,” I still can’t roll a decent joint by hand. The reason? I haven’t practiced enough. (Who has the time?) It doesn’t matter if you can’t either because for about three bucks you can buy a simple little gadget called a “cigarette” roller, which will help you roll perfect joints, quickly and easily. Every time. “Cigarette” rollers keep everything nice and even. Put in the plant material, roll it up, insert paper, roll again, seal the glue strip, and you are done! They even come in different sizes to fit different rolling papers.



These inexpensive gadgets break up buds into a consistently fine texture. Using a grinder insures that your marijuana will burn better and more evenly. Are they absolutely, positively essential? No. You could break up cannabis flowers with your fingers, but a grinder will do a better, quicker, neater job of it.

Spiked hand grinders can be made of metal or plastic. The latter are often given away as freebies at cannabis expos and shows and they work well. The plant matter is tucked inside one spiked half of the grinder and then covered with the spiked lid. A few twists and the weed is ready for rolling and/or smoking. Fancier grinders come equipped with built-in screens that automatically collect kief (see Chapter 3) in a separate chamber, which is a nice feature but not essential.

Credit card–style grinders, small pieces of metal with perforations that work like hand graters, are somewhat less effective but convenient to carry. I find these work well only on dry plant matter. In other words, that great sticky dank you got won’t do well with this style of grinder.

Some folks dedicate a small electric coffee or spice grinder to marijuana. If you use this method, which does make processing lightning-fast, grind the minimum amount to get the consistency you need because this appliance produces heat that will start to decarboxylize your weed (see Chapter 1) if you let it go too long. A nice bonus of using a coffee grinder is that over time, kief will collect on the sides and blades. Scrape this off, put it in your pipe, and smoke it!


For such a simple item, the marijuana cigarette goes by many names and has inspired some interesting spin-offs. Here are the essential joint-related terms every toker (one who tokes or takes hits of marijuana) should know:

          Joint, J, jay, and doobie all refer to a simple marijuana cigarette.

          A pre-roll is simply a joint that you purchase rolled and ready to smoke from a marijuana dispensary or dealer.

          A fatty, big fatty, or fat boy is a large joint rolled with extra marijuana; conversely, a pinner is a thin, tightly rolled version of the same.


  • "With marijuana finally coming out of the shadows, there's an urgent need for clear and honest information about what it is, where to find it, and how to use it. Cheri Sicard has written a handbook not just for women, but for anyone who is curious and open-minded."--Barbara Ehrenreich
  • "A helpful, reassuring guide to all things pot, including how to buy and use marijuana, legal issues, medical uses, growing and cooking with the drug, pot and sex, pot and parenting, traveling with weed and marijuana tourism, cannabis careers, and more. The lively writing style and professional presentation make for an enjoyable read."--Library Journal

On Sale
Apr 7, 2015
Page Count
232 pages
Seal Press

Cheri Sicard

About the Author

Cheri Sicard never would have thought that she would one day become a passionate marijuana activist. Once a closeted medical marijuana user, she now works with numerous reform groups and frequently organizes rallies, speaks at city council meetings, and gives classes on various aspects of marijuana. She also advocates for clemency on behalf of prisoners serving life sentences for nonviolent marijuana offenses.

Cheri is a professional writer, recipe developer, and internet entrepreneur. Her earlier books include The Great American Handbook, U.S. Citizenship for Dummies, and Everyday American. In addition, Cheri’s Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook is one of the most popular and well-reviewed books of its kind.

Learn more about this author