12 Essential Tips for Growing Your Own Medical Cannabis
While the medical cannabis patients we certify at Compassionate Clinics of America can access a number of dispensaries across their state, some prefer to grow their own medical cannabis where it is legally permitted. Not only is cultivating your own cannabis medicine extremely satisfying, but as you learn, and try it over and over again (and trust us, it takes practice), you can begin to learn what features of the cannabis plant work best for your desired medical outcomes.
Cultivating your own cannabis isn’t easy work and in most states, it requires you to hold a valid and current medical marijuana certification. Compassionate Clinics of America provides certifications for Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma patients who would like to consider growing their own medical cannabis. Note that in Pennsylvania, growing cannabis at home under any circumstance is not permitted.
Growing cannabis takes dedication, hard work, and a commitment to see your plant from seed to smoke. However, many people simply enjoy growing cannabis, especially when the result helps them meet their medical needs. Millions of people grow cannabis across the world, both for personal use, and for commercial use, with the United States employing thousands of cannabis growers across legal states.
Considering cultivating your own cannabis? Not sure where to start? That’s ok, it can be overwhelming. From time to time, we will be releasing articles around growing your own cannabis to help you learn new aspects of the art and science of growing that allow you to cultivate your most perfect plant.
Here are 12 fundamental tips to whet your whistle as you consider becoming a cannabis grower, followed by a quick summary of the medical cannabis home cultivation regulations for the states we serve:
Bad Seeds Can’t Grow Good “Weed”
Just like the foundation of a house that keeps it standing strong, the foundation of good cannabis is the seed it grows from.
Research the seeds that are available to you rather than just tossing random cannabis seeds in soil and hoping for the best. Seeds must be fertilized female seeds in order to grow cannabis buds, so your first avoidance of a garden headache is to ensure the seeds you purchase are feminized.
When choosing your cultivar (“strain”), research the features of certain strains before you buy them. However, it’s important to know that just because a cannabis product shares a similar strain name, features of the resulting plant may differ due to phenotypes, which hold the genetic markers of specific plants. There may be hundreds of phenotypes under one strain name, so learn as much as you can about the seed’s features and genetics.
One Seed Per Pot
When you place a germinated (“popped”) seed into a pot, it needs access to nutrients and space to grow.
Unless it is for breeding purposes, growers advise to never put more than one seed in a pot, so that the plants don’t have to fight for room or food.
Understand Plant Stages
Being able to recognize the stage of growing for your cannabis plant will greatly influence your power as a grower.
As stages change, so do the light levels, watering levels, and nutrients that you should be giving your plants. The plant stages are germination, seedling, vegetation, flowering, and harvest, with each stage being a crucial part of the plant’s life cycle.
We’ll cover more about the plant stages in later articles.
Give Them Space
Just as plants should have their own pots to grow in, the containers they grow in should also be large enough to grow large and strong roots to soak up nutrients.
In addition, using techniques like trellising will train your plants to grow in a way that they remain separated and positioned to best receive the light they need to grow.
Pay Attention to Light Cycle
As mentioned above, the plant’s lighting and light/dark exposure will need to be adjusted throughout your medical cannabis growing cycle depending on the stage it’s in.
The most crucial is the lighting between the vegetation and the flowering stage, where guidelines suggest your plant requires 18-24 hours of light, and 6 hours of darkness or less, depending on the plant. Understand your strain to be sure you’re aware of its light requirements.
Generally, the flowering stage carries with it a 12/12 rule: 12 hours of light, 12 hours of dark.
Feed Your Plants Well
Nutrients are the food your cannabis plants need to grow and be healthy. Cannabis plants rely on regular and balanced doses of “NPK” which is the Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) blend found in most growing, but there are a lot more nutrients that can help your medical cannabis grow as healthy as possible.
We always recommend visiting your local hydroponics store to see what nutrient blends they have in store, and most nutrient companies will have a nutrient chart that can help you dial in your nutrient levels and feeding schedules.
Don’t Drown Your Plants
Keeping your plants watered and hydrated is a critical part of growing healthy roots and plants, but over-watering can cause disastrous results. Assuming that your plants are thirstier than they actually are could result in wilted and sad-looking plants.
There are a few tests you can do to test the water levels of your plants, such as the finger test, the weight test, and the look test, to determine how much water your plant needs.
Healthy Plants Require Ventilation
Your cannabis requires sufficient ventilation in order to let heat escape from the growing area and to control temperature and humidity that can lead to molds and mildews.
Whether it’s through cutting holes in their growing area, using ducts, or extractor fans, or another method of ventilation, it is one of the most important principles of setting your medical cannabis grow up for success.
Prune, Prune, Prune
Pruning, and a process called topping helps remove the dead and dry leaves to make room for healthy leaves. Pruning involves checking on your leaves on a regular basis and carefully clipping off and damaged leaves.
Embrace the Cloning Process
Earlier we mentioned the importance of finding the right seeds, but many growers prefer to clone plants, especially when they find a cultivar they really like. Cannabis cloning is making an exact replica of a cultivar (“strain”) through a cutting process that allows you to root part of your plant in a new pot.
Through cloning, you skip a few steps of the early growing process, ensuring quicker access to medicine. Cloning is not a complicated science, but the practice of cloning is a meticulous art that the grower needs to be well-prepared for before attempting.
Write Stuff Down
Like we said, growing is both an art and science. If you find something that works, you don’t want to forget what that step or adjustment was, so document your steps as you go along. Review your documentation regularly to see where improvements can be made. You’ll thank yourself later!
Don’t Take Your Role too Lightly!
Growing cannabis is a tough process that requires commitment, daily attention, and dedication. Learning about growing is a long process (certainly longer than one blog post), and many expert growers are still improving on their practices on the daily. If you’re considering growing your own cannabis, recognize that it will take a time and financial investment (for materials, equipment, seeds, etc), so be sure you’re totally up for the task.
We know, however, if you’re dedicated, you’ll do just fine. Just remember that your plants need you just as much as you need your plants!
What are the Regulations on Home Cultivation in My State?
Compassionate Clinics of America serves patients in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Oklahoma by providing medical cannabis certifications that allow people to legally purchase, consume, and grow cannabis (check state regulations for additional requirements). The regulations on home cultivation of cannabis differ from state to state, and municipalities within states may also have their own bylaws and regulations as well. If you’re considering cultivating cannabis, always be sure to be aware of your specific state and municipal regulations.
Below is a brief overview of the state-wide regulations for the states we serve with medical cannabis certifications:
Illinois Home Cultivation Regulations
In Illinois, home cultivation of cannabis is permitted only if you hold a medical cannabis certification. With the medical cannabis certification, medical patients can grow up to five (5) plants in their home, and must be in a locked room, out of public view, with no access by minors. You can only grow cannabis if you have a Medical Cannabis Card. You must be 21 years or older. A landlord is able to ban home cultivation in a lease document.
Pennsylvania Home Cultivation Regulations
It is illegal to cultivate cannabis at home in Pennsylvania. Those who receive their medical cannabis certification must purchase their cannabis through a licensed medical marijuana dispensary.
Missouri Home Cultivation Regulations
Growing cannabis in Missouri is limited to those with a medical cannabis certification, who must also possess a Missouri Patient Cultivation Card, which is also available to caregivers. Both documents need to be current, and not expired to be valid, which is why it’s important to ensure your Missouri medical cannabis certification is always up to date. One qualifying patient may cultivate up to six (6) flowering marijuana plants, six (6) non-flowering marijuana plants (plants in their vegetative state) (over 14 inches tall), and six (6) clones (plants under 14 inches tall) at any given time in a single, enclosed, locked facility. The Missouri cannabis cultivation laws have a lot of details, so be sure you’re always up to date if you’re considering growing your own medical cannabis in Missouri.
Oklahoma Home Cultivation Regulations
Those who hold medical cannabis certifications in Oklahoma can grow six (6) mature plants and six (6) immature plants (in vegetation stage) at any given time. Plants can be grown outdoors, but cannot be visible by the road or passersby. In addition, to cultivate, one must own their property or obtain written consent from their landlord that permits them to cultivate on premises.
This information is not legal advice. Always consult your state laws and municipal bylaws to ensure you’re abiding by the regulations and any additional requirements for licensing or permits in your state and municipality.
Get Your Medical Cannabis Certification
As you can see, anyone growing medical cannabis in Illinois, Missouri, or Oklahoma are required to hold a valid and current medical marijuana certification in their state in order to cultivate their own medical cannabis. Don’t put the effort into cultivating if there is a risk your certification may have expired.
If you’re looking to grow cannabis in Illinois, Missouri, or Oklahoma, obtain your medical cannabis certification with Compassionate Clinics of America so that you can go on to enjoy the benefits of a medical cannabis certification for your health and well-being. If your certification has expired, recertification is quick and easy. Just reach out at this link, and we’ll ensure your certified and back to the garden in no time!