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4 ways to make use of male cannabis plants

August 23, 2017
A close up of a young male marijuana plant.
Unlike most flowering plants, cannabis is unique in that it requires both a male and female plant to reproduce. While hermaphroditic (self-pollinating) cannabis does exist, the plant most commonly expresses male- or female-specific sex organs.

Female cannabis plants produce the large, resinous buds that are dried, cured, and consumed. For this reason, females are typically the only plants you’ll find in someone’s cannabis garden.


Male vs. female cannabis: How to determine the sex of your plant

Male plants are commonly regarded as useless and discarded. While pollination by males is essential for producing more cannabis plants (unless working from clones), it’s a process that is generally best left to breeders so growers can focus on producing consumable seedless buds called sinsemilla. 

Do male plants truly belong in a compost bin, or could they serve a more beneficial purpose to gardeners? Surprisingly, there are more uses for male plants than one might think.

1. Breeding

The obvious function of male cannabis plants is for breeding seeds. When pollinating females, males provide half of the genetic makeup inherited by seeds. Because of this, it’s important to look into the genetics of the male plants. Their shape, rate of growth, pest and mold resistance, and climate resilience can all be passed on to increase the quality of future generations.


Cannabis Seeds 101: All You Need to Know and More

2. Hemp fiber 

When it comes to hemp fiber, the male cannabis plants produce a softer material while females are responsible for producing a coarse, stronger fiber. The soft fiber from the male plants make them more desirable for products like clothing, tablecloths, and other household items.


Hemp 101: What Is Hemp, What’s It Used for, and Why Is It Illegal?

3. Concentrate production

It may come as a surprise that male plants can be psychoactive in nature—though much less potent than females. The plants do not produce buds, but small amounts of cannabinoids can be found in the leaves, stems, and sacs, which can be extracted to produce hash or other oils. 


Cannabis Craftsmanship: How to Make Hash With Funky Skunk Extracts

4. Garden enhancement

Cannabis plants offer more benefits in the garden beyond bud production. Both male and female cannabis plants produce aromatic oils called terpenes, which are associated with pest and disease control. Since males also produce terpenes, you may consider including your males in a vegetable or flower garden (as long as they’re well separated from any female cannabis plants). Dried material from cannabis plants have also been used to produce terpene-rich oils that are applied to repel insects and pests as natural bug sprays.

Additionally, cannabis plants are deep rooting plants with long taproots. Taproots are known for their ability to dive deep into the ground and break apart low-quality soil, allowing for moisture and nutrients to infiltrate and improve the soil quality. These taproots also help keep the soil in place, thereby preventing nutrient runoff and loss of soil during heavy rains. 


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Humans are largely focused on female cannabis plants, and rightly so. But it’s important to acknowledge and cherish the characteristics of the male cannabis plants as well. Females may produce the buds we know and love, but by limiting diversity of the males, we could be losing out on potential benefits we do not yet understand. Specific males could have compounds we are unaware of that might play significant roles in how females develop, or how cannabis as a whole develops in the future.

If attempting to capitalize on any of the above benefits without the intent to breed, keep in mind that cannabis pollen is extremely good at traveling long distances, determined to find a female. It helps to have a solid understanding of how pollen works and travels before you embark on any of these alternative uses so as not to accidentally pollinate your own plants or a neighbor’s.

Trevor Hennings's Bio Image

Trevor Hennings

Trevor is a freelance writer and photographer. He has spent years in California working in the cannabis industry.

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  • FlunkedAgain

    #1. Leaves and buds both have the good stuff. The buds have a higher density. You can smoke or vape either to get high.

    #2 Before the plants exhibit sex characteristics, you can trim off some leaves to test for quality. You also want to take cuttings at this time.

    #3. If you want to produce seeds, keep notes on the quality, and slaughter the low quality males and females as their sex becomes apparent.
    You need at least one of each sex. You can control which plants cross breed by segregating them. I’m partial to one male with multiple females.
    You can slaughter the males after breeding if you wish, I’m not partial to that.

    #4. If you don’t want seeds, slaughter the males when they become apparent, and you’ll be blessed with seedless buds.

    The males have balls. You’ll see.
    You’ll need info on cuttings, and cloning, and how to cause flowering. Believe it or don’t, you can root cuttings in a dark closet.

    • Legalize420

      Good info right here! Some of the better uses for males. Very nice, I could add to this and expand also on pollen, taste/flavor of it for testing if your into breeding and I CANT believe juicing wasn’t mentioned either.

      Of course you can’t get everything, but with the knowledge of leafly writers in would think the juicing of the whole plant after sepperation/culling(if you grow like this) would have been included at least as “by juicing of the whole plants foliage/whole plant itself,” as it’s very weak and pliable at this stage and is as FlunkedAgain here pointed out, it’s full of CBD and other natural and beneficial minerals and things for the body and health.

      It makes me sad all the people out there(sadly some related to me) who still think your “ruining your life with drugs” by using cannabis which makes me sick and sad. Especially as they shut off to facts and go “oh yeah huh?, sure it does, and mhmm whatever you say” who refuse to accept fact.
      I sadly still hear that “garbage” or “stuff” “gets you nowhere” and of course when u reason it’s fruitless but that’s just a peeve to me that ignorance which I despise can still be so acceptable.

      Thank you for the good reply Flunked! Peace and Positive Vibes to all!

  • La Oreja del Zumbador

    Amateur writing.
    Doesn’t even mention CBD.,..which male pollens sacs and leaves are full of.

    When you extract oil from male plants…you get a “mostly-CBD with some THC” oil,
    which is great for treating arthritis and/or more than 20 ailments which respond favorably to CBD.

    Not everybody uses cannabis to get high, Leafly.

    Some people actually use it as medicine.

    • blackandwhiteohana

      I think it is implied in #3…

    • FlunkedAgain

      I’ve smoked and vaped Male Leaves, and I got high.

    • Michael Stead

      That’s what I’m talkin about I need to find out how to extract the CBD from the males-the best way–anybody know?

  • Raul Tsi

    I haven’t had a lot of growing experience but one time, really. It was one of 3 seeds my roommates and I found in 5 ounces of chocolate Thai. We each took a seed and tried to grow it. I light proofed my room and replaced my bulbs with green bulbs so I could still see while the plants were in their dark hours. This was over 30 years ago so regular consumer accessed growing lights were still pretty much limited to incandescents (too hot) and fluorescent tubes. IIRC, I had two 4 foot tubes and 3 smaller ones . At first my plant looked like it would be female and yes, it did produce female flowers. However, it got stressed (probably root bound) and began to express male flowers as well. Since it was my only seed, I didn’t throw in the towel. I culled all the male flowers I could find and saved them. Then I very carefully repotted the now 3 foot tall plant into a bigger pot. I kept a watchful eye and did not get anymore male flowers. My plant grew into a beautiful classic christmas tree shape bush, the smell was incredible, I wish I could have bottled it and sold it as room freshener.

    The male flowers were allowed to dry. I put some in a pipe and smoked it. It was very hash like and gave this really clear, clean high. We took to sprinkling some on bowls of buds as an enhancer. I was always very careful to never go to my plant after handling the pollen. Although the buds were not very dense, they were utterly gorgeous to behold. And the high from them was incredible.

    My roommates’ plants looked even scrawnier than Charlie Brown’s christmas tree. Neither ever reached 2 feet nor flowered.

    • mdyer

      Yeah back in the day: early 1980’s, we dried out the males and smoked them shake and all after everything else got used up. My old girlfriend used to cook stems in butter and slather the whole mess on English muffins. God awful!

  • Since the male plants grow wild and free here (some over 10ft tall), I dry and use it for a tobacco substitute, or filler. Rolls nicely and available everywhere.