Habitual purchasers of schwag will often find a seed or two mixed in with low-grade bud. You want to make sure not to roll them in a joint. Apart from that, people are generally not sure what - if anything - to do with it.

If you're leagues away from professional-grower status, but curious about where your favourite plant comes from, here are four things you need to know about cannabis seeds.

Gender

Newbies might be surprised to learn this: cannabis plants have genders - although most of us see mainly female plants, since they produce the seedless, high potency flower available at your local dispensary. Unfortunately, gender only becomes apparent once the plant starts to grow: you can't determine the gender of a seed by looking at it. "In nature," writes Robert Bergman of The Weed Blog, "each [sex] grouping has a roughly 50:50 chance of occurring per seed, but in your garden you can control male to female ratios once you learn to recognize what each gender looks like." In other words, guessing the sex of a seed is basically a crapshoot. Sexing cannabis isn't straightforward, either: if left to flower for a long enough time, some cannabis plants can even produce male and female flowers simultaneously on the same plant.

Availability

Poking around in sub-par cannabis is one way to find a seed. Fortunately, there are much more reliable methods. Countless seed banks based in countries with less restrictive laws than the U.S. are willing to ship seeds internationally. Stick with reputable seed banks like Elemental Seeds, which "focuses strongly on the medicinal aspects of their strains [...] and performs extensive lab testing, meticulous growing practices and rigorous quality control ensure that no mold, pesticides or PGRs (plant-growth regulators) are present on any of their plants or seeds," according to High Times. Warning: ordering seeds from overseas means they might get seized at customs - so depending on the home-grow provision in your state, local dispensaries might be a better bet.

Quality

Genetics dictate which seeds will grow into quality plants: some breeders devote their lives to crossing and backcrossing cannabis plants, selecting the best traits. But in order to reach their full potential, seeds also need to be properly stored: mold or other pathogens can wreck what would have otherwise grown into a beautiful plant. "In general, you're better off avoiding seeds that are pale green or white since these probably aren't mature," advises one growing site. "Big fat seeds are ideal, and they should have a fairly rounded shape. You can use smaller seeds too, but as a rule of thumb, you're more likely to develop a healthy sprout from a bigger healthier seed." Store seeds in a dark, cool place and use them within 16 months. If you're planning on saving up plenty for an amateur gardening project, you can prolong their shelf life by storing them in the freezer.

Growing

It's surprisingly easy to sprout cannabis seeds to grow: some report carelessly discarding seeds and trimmings in the backyard, only to find a few weeks later that they've accidentally started a mini-grow op. If you prefer a more methodical approach, Leafly recommends doing the following: "put the seed in a light potting soil mix covered by ⅛ to ¼ of an inch of soil. Keep the soil moist and relatively warm until the seed has sprouted into a seedling. Other techniques involve lightly scuffing the seed coat to ensure the seed is able to crack open, pre-soaking the seeds, and even germinating them in a wet paper towel." For a step-by-step tutorial on germinating seeds, check out this video below.

How To Germinate Marijuana Seeds