Home Grow chronicles Dianna’s personal journey as a medical cannabis patient who registered and was approved by the Canadian government to grow cannabis in her home. Dianna’s experience is one grower’s point of view. Her ideas are neither the best or only proven methods for growing medicinal grade cannabis.
It’s the ultimate green renovation—revamping a closet to make room for a crop of medical cannabis. Join Boveda blogger, Dianna Donnelly as she plots her personal medical cannabis growing operation. Dianna is just one of more than 6,800 Canadians who are registered to cultivate their own medical cannabis, according to a June 2017 report from Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).
The first time I sprouted a cannabis seed was in 2003. I had just purchased my first laptop and began researching this incredible plant. Online I learned how to germinate the seed in a damp paper towel on a tea saucer inside of a sandwich bag. In three days, my seed awoke. It was all legs. Long, white and hairy legs. But at the other end a little green sprite was trying mightily to break out of the confines of its seed shell.
I planted that wiry and eager sprout in a container filled with soil from my backyard. (I remember sneaking the dirt inside the house “007-style,” so no one would suspect my crime.) My plant sat under a bedside lamp in my basement. Two weeks later, I realized my dad was coming over to help me paint what had become my grow room. Before he arrived, I hid my secret wonder out in the shed, forgetting how sheds and fathers attract one another. Before long, dad came into the house carrying my now three-inch plant. With the sweetest optimism, he simply said, “Di, it’s not gonna grow very well out there.”
To my dad, it didn’t matter what I was growing, only that I planned to grow it well. My father, mother and all of our rural neighbors taught me how to be a partner with nature. That knowledge and understanding may be their greatest gifts to me.
From the day I germinated that seed, I knew my green thumb was destined for greatness. Growing medicinal cannabis, however, was never my goal. Fortunately, ACMPR, Canada’s most recent legal cannabis program, now includes a provision that allows patients with a doctor’s recommendation to grow medicinal cannabis at home.
STEP 1: SECURING A DOCTOR’S RECOMMENDATION
A physician’s blessing, however, can actually be difficult to obtain. A patient must find a doctor who is willing to assess her diagnosis and correlate it to an ever-growing list of Health Canada approved conditions.
In April 2016, Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott spoke to the United Nations General Assembly reiterating Canada’s electoral promise to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use. Before spring 2016, if a patient’s family physician didn’t “believe” in the medical benefits of herbal flower, it was difficult for a patient to receive an assessment.
Many doctors still fear they will be stigmatized
for recommending “home grow” medicine.
I’ve counseled many patients whose doctors have refused to discuss cannabis and have actually charged patients to release their files to be assessed for this safer medicine. My own GP (general practitioner) was unwilling to prescribe cannabis for me. He gladly provided a written diagnosis, so I could be assessed at any one of the 30+ Cannabis Clinics. Staffed by medical professionals familiar with strains and dosing, Cannabis Clinics give traditional physicians a place to refer patients.
Previously when I worked at a cannabis clinic, patients who couldn’t physically come to the clinic would ask if doctors could Skype with them. At that time, remote assessments were not permitted. Now clinics can assess patients in their homes! Recently, one of my loved ones was assessed at his kitchen table. The assessment was free through his health insurance. How far we’ve come so fast.
“I self-medicated for 15 years before a Cannabis Clinic doctor prescribed cannabis for
me–a visit that was covered by Canada’s awesome provincial health insurance.”
STEP 2: COMPLETING THE ACMPR APPLICATION TO GROW MEDICAL CANNABIS AT HOME
The ACMPR application is seven pages long. And it’s not an easy read. For a full 30 minutes, I sat pondering the very first question. No wonder why so many applications are rejected! With the application, a patient must submit an original “medical document” or prescription. If an existing prescription was previously submitted to a licensed producer, that prescription will not be accepted with an application for Health Canada’s personal cultivation program.
After completing the lengthy application, I mailed it off with my original “medical document” from the Cannabis Clinic doctor to Health Canada. And then I waited patiently for one month. Then two, three and four.
STEP 3: SETTING UP THE NURSERY DURING THE DELAY
1. Prepping my space, like an expectant Mother Nature
To start my cannabis growing process off right, I talked to a local botanist at a hydroponic/organic growing store. There I bought grow lights, nutrients, Mylar® and specialized soils. I recommend investing in “living soil” to grow the herbal flower. Living soil runs about $20-$35 per cubic foot and is prepacked with nutrients and microorganisms. (Just add water!) “Head shops” also sell some nutrients for growing cannabis.
When I met with a garden expert, I was very honest about my budget. I didn’t want to drop a bundle and not see it balance out in the end. To save money while growing cannabis, I suggest shopping at a hardware or big box store for regular soil, vermiculite, perlite, root stimulator, spray bottles, planters and more.
2. Plotting out my cannabis-in-a-closet plan
Here’s how I turned a nearly 8′ x 2′ (2.4 m x 60 cm) space into a cannabis nursery/garden oasis:
- From the closet rod, I hung two bread-box sized 150-watt grow lights, which can be raised as the plants grow.
- Covered the walls and inner sides of the sliding doors with shiny Mylar to mirror light, so my green goddesses could feel lumens on every leaf.
- Scrubbed the floor then laid down a sheet of Mylar to reflect light up into the lower branches.
- Installed a fan at either end of the closet to bring on breeze, which will make for stronger and more resilient plants able to produce more cannabinoids and terpenes.
STEP 4: LICENSING AND REAPPLYING
After five months, my license finally arrived. I am now legally approved to cultivate 25 plants as long as I grow them inside my eighth-floor apartment. My plant total is based on my dosage—every gram of prescribed dried cannabis translates into five indoor plants. My license is valid until July 28, 2018. Just to be safe, I’ll begin the renewal process early in the new year to keep my crop up and running.
STEP 5: CHOOSING A STRAIN FOR EVERY REASON, EVERY NEED, EVERY SEASON
Currently, I treat my depression with medical cannabis. I suspect that growing my own medical cannabis may be healing in and of itself. My ever-populating house plants will remind me of the good in life. Seeing something grow from my own efforts will make me more hopeful. The wonder of botany at play will lift my spirits and quell those negative thoughts.
With a bit of TLC, cannabis plants grow as vigorously as weeds. Imagine perfect two-, three-, five- and nine-fingered leaves multiplying overnight! I can’t wait to explore different growing methods, mediums and tie-down or cropping techniques.
Do I train a cannabis plant into a Christmas tree? A menorah? What great photos these would make to share with friends, since my green girls cannot travel away from my residence for the holidays.
I plan to get a lot of good out of my 25 cannabis plants. Some will flower. Some will vegetate. Others I’ll harvest to eat. (A leaf a day keeps the doctor away, correct?)
Come along with me on my Home Grow journey. In an upcoming blog, I’ll talk cost and strains and further examine legal sources for seeds and clones.
– Dianna Donnelly
Dianna Donnelly is a cannabis educator, blogger, and freelance writer living in Kingston, Ontario. She counsels new patients on the safe and effective use of medicinal cannabis and believes that with enough time, cannabis, and coconut oil she can heal the world.
Dianna Donnelly’s posts are being provided for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Boveda of any of the products, services or opinions of Dianna Donnelly. Boveda bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of this post or links to the posts. Contact Dianna Donnelly for answers to questions regarding her content.