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what do you need to grow medical weed

What do you need to grow medical weed

Date: September 15, 2021
Read time: 6 minutes

Can I grow cannabis at home?

Medical marijuana patients 18 years and older will be able to grow up to 3 mature and 3 immature plants at home starting October 1, 2021, with a cap of 12 total plants per household. All adults over age 21 will be able to grow under the same rules starting July 1, 2023. Plants must be grown indoors and must not be visible from the street. People who choose to grow their own plants must do so in their primary residence and where individuals under 21 can not access the plants.

What do you need to grow medical weed

Nature 572, S10-S11 (2019)

One sign of progress is that cannabis products can be recalled when they fail testing, just like other medical or consumer items. In December 2016 and January 2017, Organigram had to recall some of its products when residues from pesticides not approved for use in cannabis were detected. Although the company’s reputation took a short-term hit, Purcell says that recalls are a sign of the industry’s growing professionalism. Consumers can be confident that cannabis goods have been made “under a controlled, regulated environment and tested in a certified lab that guarantees safety and quality”.

Organigram’s operation is in stark contrast to the image of an illicit farm hidden in the woods. It is entirely indoors, with 52 identical growing rooms on three floors. Plants are propagated by cloning, rather than grown from seed, so the crop’s genetic identity remains the same from generation to generation. The growers track and log all growing parameters, and then tweak them as needed to maintain consistency. Purcell sees the company’s operation as a ‘manufacturing facility’, rather than a garden or a greenhouse. “There are quality checks like you would see in any manufacturing facility, whether it was producing food or tyres,” he says.

Such labs are beginning to adopt standardized tests for potency and purity using gas chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography. They are also developing methods to identify and measure levels of THC and other cannabinoids, as well as contaminants such as heavy metals and pesticide residues. “These aren’t necessarily new tests that have been created for this industry, but the type that had to be applied for this product,” says Brauninger.

Testing, testing

Although small-scale growers of illicit cannabis can get away with vague descriptions of strains and considerable variation between batches, commercial producers have to meet the same standards as they would for other consumer products. They need to produce a reliable product and follow the stringent rules and regulations that apply to product labelling and safety in their country.

A commercial medical-cannabis cultivation facility in Moncton, Canada. Credit: Organigram Inc.

Besides the challenges of growing a sufficient amount of high-quality cannabis for a rapidly growing market, cannabis companies have to deal with something that illegal growers do not — government regulation.

In the United Kingdom, for example, strict rules concerning THC levels in medical cannabis mean that labs can find it difficult to get the sample analytical standards that they need for comparing products. The licences required to handle the standards are the same as those needed by a lab doing research on the drug itself. “It’s ludicrous that analytical standards are so tightly controlled,” says James. “The cannabis products are treated the same as a kilo of cocaine.”

Cannabis companies are quickly adopting techniques and technologies that were pioneered by commercial agriculture and horticulturalists. Organigram, a cannabis producer in Moncton, Canada, stringently controls its growing operations, says Jeff Purcell, vice-president of operations. “The growing environment is standardized, and we have full control over the air, light, temperature and fertilizer,” he says. “It’s all highly automated and computer controlled.”

What do you need to grow medical weed

In cannabis-laden Boulder, Colorado, the city has implemented a licensing solution that requires growers to use energy monitoring devices as well as paying a fee for carbon emissions, adopting renewable energy sources, or purchasing energy credits.

This is a troubling insight for those who depend on cannabis for medicinal purposes. Because individuals may not receive the intended reaction to treat their medical condition as a result of consuming improperly labelled cannabis products.

Running a successful commercial cannabis grow operation is an expensive challenge. While growers can maintain a higher level of control over humidity, available light, and pests in an indoor environment, maintaining proper light levels and staying as energy-efficient as possible are top priorities for commercial cannabis production operations.

Choosing Grow Site and Setting Up a Grow Operation

Regular seeds are cheaper and more reliable than other types of seeds, but be aware that half of your crop will be male cannabis plants and will therefore not flower, requiring removal from your grow room before pollination.

That said, no forward-thinking cannabis entrepreneur should overlook energy-efficiency standards in initial constructions. An estimated 4% of Denver’s annual energy usage went toward cannabis production facilities in 2020; projections for energy usage among states nearing legalization (including California, Nevada, and Maine) are unquestionably unsustainable.

Invest in Solar

Choosing to invest in a cannabis production facility over a retail storefront makes getting things off the ground a bit easier – prospective producers are able to utilize more remote, out-of-the-way locations with greater benefits to security, logistics, and future expansions. There are restrictions under current state laws that keep producers from opening grow facilities away from public schools, parks, transit centers, libraries, or arcades that cater to minors.

Smaller producers in rainy climates such as Oregon and Washington are investing in rainwater collection and storage capabilities to save on irrigation costs. Because a single cannabis plant can use as much as 22.7 liters of water per day and many cannabis outdoor growing seasons conflict with periods of low-precipitation, outdoor growers and those who rely on rainwater capture without long-term storage solutions won’t find much benefit in a recyclable water investment.