“Even with the relaxed cannabis climate that we currently live in, there are still people getting into legal trouble for cannabis,” says Brian Marks of Aroma Grow Store. Brian has been operating his Illinois grow store since 2019, where they specialize in helping people learn about cultivating medical cannabis, hemp, herbs, microgreens, and other forms of plant cultivation and sustainable living.
Brian is passionate about medical cannabis, and as a partner to Compassionate Clinics of America, we have teamed up for the “Grow Your Own Medicine” series, aimed at empowering those who get a medical cannabis certification to grow their own plant medicine.
Stay tuned as we release new articles right to your inbox every month on the art and science of cannabis cultivation, relying on Brian’s 25 years of cultivation expertise (and be sure to take advantage of his special discount on growing supplies for the Compassionate Clinics of America community!).
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of knowing your laws and remaining stealth and, most importantly, safe as you grow your own medical cannabis.
Know Your State & Municipal Laws
(and if you don’t know, ask!)
“The first thing we discuss in my grow classes at Aroma Grow Store is knowing the laws of your state,” says Brian. He explains that where he lives in Illinois, medical cannabis can only be grown with a license, which restricts the number of plants cultivated by the size of the plant itself. In Illinois, medical cannabis must be cultivated within a personal home outside of public view, in a locked room that can not be accessed by minors.
When people are unsure about the personal medical cannabis cultivation laws of their state or municipality, or don’t have access to the growing environment required by law, such as a separate room and are curious about growing outside, Brian has some pretty direct advice. “I have suggested to many of my students that they call their local police department, let them know that you are a licensed medical card holder that you are going to legally grow your five plants,” he says.
“Ask if you can you do it outside in your specific situation. Explain to them your situation, maybe you have a six-foot fence that is wooden or a four-foot fence that is chain-link, or maybe you have no fence but you’ve got an area that is surrounded by bushes. Let them know if your neighbors won’t be able to see your grow.”
Brian explains that he’s heard from over a dozen Illinois municipalities that have permitted outside cultivation with strict requirements and restrictions.
“Like all laws, our laws here in Illinois leave a lot to the interpretation of the local municipality or police department, so knowing how your local department interprets the law can save you hassles in the long run,” Brian advises.
The Importance of a Medical Cannabis Certification for Cultivation
Brian acknowledges that many people within his state illegally cultivate without a medical cannabis certification and the required license to cultivate medical cannabis. “The problem with not having a medical card is that once you harvest your plants, the quantity of cannabis you possess may be a felony, not just a misdemeanor,” he warns.
“My five plants, during my last grow, gave me a total of 6.2 pounds of dried weight, and if you’re growing outdoors or in a greenhouse, you may have a much larger yield. If I did not have a medical license, that 6.2 pounds sitting around my house would be a felony, so be smart and get a license.” He adds that the law allows him to possess everything he cultivates safely and legally due to his medical cannabis certification and cultivation license.
“My friends at Compassionate Clinics of America can help you get and retain your medical license in whatever state you are in,” Brian says. “It is so easy with a 10-minute telemedicine appointment, too easy not to have one. They are so wonderful to work with, we should all spread the word and tell our friends and relatives so we can help keep them all safe.”
Brian reminds us that the incredible tax savings alone on purchasing cannabis with a medical cannabis certification is what makes having one so worth it. In Illinois, having his medical cannabis certification avoids patients having to pay the 30% tax placed on adult use or recreational cannabis in the state.
“Cannabis laws are constantly evolving, so keeping up with the current law is important,” advises Brian. He tells us that a great place to keep up with all the current laws is the National Conference of State Legislatures at ncsl.org, where you can read the laws in full. Another great website is the Marijuana Policy Project which can be found at mpp.org.
Cannabis Seeds are Now Legal!
Brian shares a big recent change in the law that may surprise medical cannabis patients. “Laws change quickly,” he says. “About eight months ago, seeds were considered illegal federally, but the DEA released a statement, saying that they find seeds are legal in all 50 states federally under the Hemp Act, as a seed does not contain THC.”
With this big news that came in April 2022, Brian and a long-time friend and cannabis breeder in Spain started Secret Squirrel Seeds, which will soon be opening their online shop featuring some amazing genetics that come from a long-time friend and cannabis breeder in Spain.
“Cannabis plants will not contain THC until there are flowers on the plant, so, technically any cannabis plant, that is not yet flowering is a hemp plant,” Brian explains.
Brain reminds us that some states such as Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Texas only allow THC with CBD oil, and that cannabis is completely illegal in Idaho, Kansas, Wyoming, and South Carolina. Why it’s again important to know your laws!
Keeping Your Medical Cannabis Grow Safe
If people cultivate cannabis outdoors, either through the methods outlined by Brian above, or their particular state permits outdoor cultivation, there are some unfortunate things that can happen.
“At the end of each summer as gardens are ready to be harvested, we have seen many gardens get robbed,” says Brian, “Keep your grow stealth, my friends! Cannabis plants are stolen quite often. We all want to show our friends and neighbors the beautiful plants we are growing, but I would suggest keeping it to yourself. I know of way too many horror stories.”
“It’s a horrible feeling to lose out on something you put so much work into,” says. He tells us of when he was cultivating before medical cannabis licenses were available and he had told the wrong person about his grows. This resulted in being robbed of his eventual harvest. He says that teenaged kids could also tell the wrong people, putting your grow, and more importantly your safety, at risk. He advises if you’re growing indoors to hide or mask the grow space, recalling he once hid his grow space by holding what looked like wall paneling on by Velcro.
Brian reminds us that a medical cannabis grow does not have to be in a huge space. “I have an employee and some customers who are doing bonsai cannabis, growing,” he explains. “They are growing small little plants in a little 18” x 18” x 28” clone tent with a 30W clone light. This little setup can sit on the shelf or get tucked into a closet and produce approximately 2 ounces every grow.”
Learn More from Aroma Grow Store
As a partner of Compassionate Clinics of America, Brian Marks has made himself and his resources at Aroma Grow Store available. He can listen to your specific situation for cultivating your own medical cannabis and help you with solutions to stay stealth, and most importantly, safe.
He invites patients of Compassionate Clinics of America to reach out with any cannabis growing questions. He is offering 20% off growing materials and equipment at aromagrowstore.com. Enter code “care20” for 20% off your purchase (excludes LED lights).
Stay tuned as we release more monthly articles featuring the expertise of Brian Marks and Aroma Grow Store. From choosing seeds, to the different plant stages, to nutrients, and best practices for harvest, Brian and Compassionate Clinics of America has you covered from seed to storage to consumption.
About Brian Marks & Aroma Grow Store
In 1998, Brian Marks’ life changed forever after a skydiving accident left him in a hospital bed for almost a year and having to learn how to walk again. Narcotic drugs were prescribed to Brian for the pain, yet he soon found that if he used cannabis, his use of narcotics significantly decreased. After being introduced to a cannabis grower, Brian learned the basics and soon found that not only did cannabis help with his pain relief, but it helped his arthritis and the Chron’s disease he was living with.
When his home state of Illinois announced dispensary license and medical grow license applications were open, Brian began the applications as a social equity candidate with the help of some choice funders. As the state underwent its long process of reviewing applications, Brian and his partners opened the first Aroma Grow Store location in Wheeling, IL.
Since then, Aroma Grow Store has educated over 650 people through their 3-day medical cannabis growing course, and Brian has also designed and manufactured their own line of LED lighting called Aroma Grow Lighting. In addition to starting Secret Squirrel Seeds, the team has also acquired a craft grow, infusion license, and transport license. They will soon be breaking ground on a new 60,000-square-foot cultivation facility.