Cannabis Nutrients: Regulating Plant Food

Cannabis might not need chemically formulated foliar pesticides sprayed onto it, but it does need to eat food to maintain its own pest management capabilities. All of that THC, CBD, and rich, dank aroma does not just come from water! Canadian cannabis producers have a huge list of nutrients, plant growth regulators, and supplements to help their plants grow. Unlike pesticides, though, some fertilizer is not solely regulated by the Pest Management Regulation Agency (PMRA.) Plant food is also regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA,) just like our food.

Life versus death

All of the products discussed in the previous series are regulated solely through the PMRA. This organization regulates the targeted death of pests, including plants. If one were to mix together their own pesticides, this agency has to approve them first. Whereas, any nutrients or fertilizers used to feed cannabis must be approved by the CFIA instead – if they require approval at all.

Classifying nutrients

Nutrients, supplements, and Plant Growth Regulators are different varieties of ingredients considered plant food.

Macro-nutrients include ammonium, phosphorous, potassium, and nitrogen. These are the most abundant minerals found in optimum soil. There is also micro as well as secondary nutrients required for the growth of a healthy plant.

Supplements are almost always the CFIA’s department, whereas Plant Growth Regulators straddle both the CFIA and PMRA, depending on their characteristics. Some PGR’s help plants grow and thus are considered food. Regulators that inhibit a plants growth fall into the PMRA’s expertise.

Pesticides are everywhere

A formulation can also selectively kill pests while simultaneously helping your good plants grow. This is supposed to promote your plant’s own defensive tactics. Hybridized amendments must be registered through both agencies.

Still, none of the ingredients regulated by the CFIA can be used on the leaves or flowers of the plant, they can only be added to the soil. This is due to the restriction disallowing fertilizers to be used via foliar application.

Nutrient contamination

Chemicals can be synthesized and broken down by light and air, but not bacteria. Microbial infection is a concern with certain nutrients, hence why they are not allowed to be sprayed onto flowers. As long as they are used in the soil though, some fertilizers do not require registration at all.


Any ingredient that kills cannot be exempt. Many nutrients, on the other hand, do bypass registration. There is no easy summary for that list, unfortunately. A chart that details what is what can be found below, with the guidelines for supplements included above.

Flushing nutrients

Organo-nitrogens, carcinogenic when smoked, are compounds produced from nitrogen which is a nutrient your plant must eat to survive. So, how are Liberty Farms‘ flowers free of organo-nitrogens?

A carefully fed plant must also be properly flushed. Some plants can hold their food which requires a longer period of using strictly water. This pushes some of the residual elements along in the plant. What doesn’t arrive at the surface of the leaves will transform into other substances. Noxious nitrogen found earlier in the plant’s cycle will become THC or CBD.

A plant still synthesizes more THC and CBD in the last two weeks of growth, so it will certainly use up any residual nutrients in a manner that is healthy for the consumer.

Burning dirty

Disregarding the lack of concern for microbial infection, exempt or not, nutrients can still contain chemicals you wouldn’t want to smoke. White ash may not be a sign of peace and purity in the world of cannabis smoking, afterall.

Stay tuned to find out how this mystery truly disintegrates.

Photo Courtesy of Cannabis