Grow Yer Own
By Ian Harvey
Admit it. We all know someone who smokes pot.
Not us, of course. Well, not since, high school, maybe college. And that summer at the lake. Sure, but if you were to, say, take the late Pierre Berton’s advice on How To Roll A Joint, so aptly demonstrated on Rick Mercer’s Monday Report last year and then fire it up, you wouldn’t be alone. And, if Bill C-17 (now making its way through committee at the recently reprieved Parliament) comes into law, you won’t be going to jail either.
The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse last year found just under half of all Canadians have smoke marijuana at least once; About 4.2 million smoked in the last year and some 760,000 smoke daily.
That’s a lot of weed being smoked by many Canadians. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law (NORML) own survey last fall found 57 per cent of Canadians don’t think marijuana is such a big deal. Some 53 per cent thought it should be regulated like tobacco and alcohol. Not to mention, taxed.
There’s the dichotomy. While most police agencies won’t bother to arrest you if you’re caught in possession of a small amount of personal pot, acquiring that stash often means having to deal with the criminal element.
Whether you smoke for medical reasons, such as Jim, above, who says pot offsets his AIDS symptoms, or for commercial purposes, such as this grower busted by Toronto Police, growing your own in small quantities isn't that hard. And if you stay under three plants or so, it could be legal under proposed Federal legisation.
But since C-17 also allows for the growing of up to three plants for personal use with only the risk of a fine, why not take the concept of homebrew beer and home made wine to the next logical level? With decent marijuana retailing for $200 or more an ounce, it could even be a good investment.
Yet, where to start? We went to straight to the experts for some, er, high level advice. After all, growing high power pot is part of our national brand, up there with back bacon and maple syrup. We grow damn good weed, supplanting traditional source countries such as Jamaica and Colombia in supplying the U.S., though we still only account for about two percent of pot smoked in the states, the majority being grown there or imported from neighbouring Mexico.
Heck, we’ve even got a hit Cancon TV show, the Trailer Park Boys, which as often as not, features, Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, selling or growing dope.
First, you’ll plants. There are several web site offering seeds in many shapes and forms or you may be lucky enough to know someone who knows someone who can give you a clone or just buy seeds at a retail store.
Dominic Cramer, hemp advocate and Ontario Regional Director of NORML says only female plants produce flowers worth smoking and with some 400 different chemical compounds which give smokers a buzz, including THC, there a hundreds of varieties of plants and strains, just like the merlots, chardonnay and pinot grapes which differentiate wines.
Of the two main strains, he says, sativa will make you chatty and perky and give you the infamous munchies. Indica will mellow you out and make curling up on the couch to stare at the shopping channel seem like a great idea. And with names like Ultra Skunk, Sugar Snap, Triple Zero and Brown Sugar, there’s lots of variety to choose from. Which is best for after dinner? Or to take the edge off a long day? Before bed? There’s so much to discover, it’s like learning how to choose the right wine to go with the right plate.
Next you’ll need technology. Marc Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and president of the British Columbia Marijuana Party which fielded 44 candidates in the recent provincial election, says a single, decent grow light should do the trick.
“Make sure it’s not too low or you’ll burn the plants,” he said. “Or too high, because the lower branches won’t get enough light. He recommends a closet or better yet a windowless bathroom which has all the ingredients: Power, water, drains and control of external lights.
A 1,000 watt bulb, ballast and reflector will run about $350 from your local corner hydroponic store – just check the Yellow Pages. Fertilizer, specifically formulated for marijuana, from Advance Nutrients in Abbostford B.C. or Dutch Nutrient Formula in Ontario, and other garden supplies, probably another $100 or so for each harvest.
Alternatively, for about $3,200, B.C. Northern Light will ship you a CSA certified, self contained Bloom Box, a growing module about the size and shape of a chest freezer. Rhys Williams says the company ships about 40 units a month across Canada and the U.S. All you have to do, he said is load up the water and fertilizer and then come down and check it a couple times a week for bugs, disease or other problems. In about 12 weeks, you’ll be harvesting up to 10 plants, though you may have to do a little more explaining if the local constabulary drop by.
Still, don’t sweat it. Most police agencies don’t bother with less than 10 plants. Daryl Plecas, a criminology professor at University College of the Fraser Valley found of 25,000 or so marijuana growing tips investigated by B.C. police, some 54% resulted in laying of no charges and no seizures simply because there were less than 10 plants.
Done right, though, those three plants can produce about 200 grams each or more, worth about $2,000 retail. Really good gardeners, with the right strain and right touch, can double that output with up to four harvests annually. Do the math: That’s $6,000 worth of pot four times a year for a $500 investment with the risk of $450 fine. Be warned though, you’ll never likely sell it at retail prices and, more importantly, selling it remains a criminal offence. Better to donate any surplus to a worthy cause such as the local Compassion Clubs in centres like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal which in turn supply seriously ill patients with marijuana they consume to offset symptoms of diseases such as AIDS and Multiple Sclerosis or treatments such as chemotherapy.
Soil-less Works Best
Leonrrd (cct), a now-retired commercial grower who ran operations with as many as 20,000 plants, says there’s a lot science involved but the average gardener should be able to produce a decent crop.
“Use a soil-less mixture in five gallon pots, and good fertilizer,” he said. “Watch for critters like mites and diseases.” If you get stuck, Advance Nutrients offers customer support on a toll free line.
Marijuana grows in three stages: Seedling, vegetative and flowering. It moves from the middle cycle to the the flowering cycle when the amount of light it received drops below 12 hours a day. Growers trigger flowering when the plants are about three feet high by making them sit in the dark for 13 to 14 hours a day. The flowers are populated with tiny hair-like glands which secrete a sticky resin – in this case the object of desire.
If all goes well, harvest the buds, Leonrrd advises, dry them carefully to maximize the sugars for a sweeter smoke and enjoy – responsibly, of course.
Now, anyone got papers?
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