Pubdate: Wed, 20 Jan 2016
Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Column: Higher Ground
Copyright: 2016 C.E.G.W./Times-Shamrock
Author: Larry Gabriel


Recently an old family friend got in contact with me because she has 
cancer and wanted to use cannabis to alleviate the side effects of 
her chemotherapy. She got her card from the state and had gone to 
provisioning center in Detroit to buy some items. She didn't want to 
smoke or get high so she bought edibles. She called me to figure out 
if she'd got the right stuff. Personally I thought that she had 
bought a little too much of the wrong stuff. She had bought a bunch 
of CBD-infused articles that she'd been told would bring her down 
from the THC oil that she'd purchased.

That's as far as I'm going to comment on the medication she bought. 
However, thinking about her situation made me realize the absurdity 
of the current medical cannabis system in Michigan. The way it's set 
up she either has to grow her own - which she can't - or have a 
caregiver grow some for her. Finding a caregiver can be difficult. 
And even if she gets somebody to grow for her it will probably be 
five to six months before she has buds.

My friend is getting chemo treatments every three weeks for the next 
few months. That will be followed by radiation. By the time someone 
could grow marijuana for her that will all be over. Even if I became 
her caretaker I couldn't get anything together for her sooner than that.

There needs to be accommodation for people with a medical need to 
walk into a store and buy medication. Which she can actually do, but 
the people who are selling it are under a cloud. Technically 
speaking, unless she is picking up medication from her nonexistent 
caregiver she can't buy anything.

And that's what gives legs to people who don't want to have marijuana 
stores in their city. The law says you can't get any marijuana unless 
it's from your caregiver, yet there are stores selling marijuana to 
patients  thankfully  who just walk in the door. Some provisioning 
centers are hedging their bets with the law by setting up a system 
where you belong to a private club. Good for them. But the state 
needs to accept and accommodate patients who have to get marijuana. 
The current system denies their need.

I've been asked to leave a fair number of provisioning centers 
because I walked in and started asking too many questions. It 
happened again last week. Nobody with a storefront really wants to 
answer questions about where their products come from.

By the way, as far as I'm concerned nearly all marijuana use is 
medical, even if it's just unwinding after a stressful day. It's far 
better to have that than throwing down a bunch of liquid poison every day.

A new grow

The first time I ever tried to grow marijuana was when I was in 
college. I dropped a seed in a flowerpot and sat it on the window 
ledge in my college dorm room. It grew.

I didn't know anything about light control or budding. When the plant 
got to be about 18 inches tall I killed it, dried it and smoked it. 
Back in those days homegrown weed had a reputation for not being very 
potent and my stuff fit the bill.

I've learned a lot about growing cannabis since then, although not 
nearly as much as some folks out there have figured out about how to 
produce powerful stuff.

My second encounter with growing marijuana was when I worked for a 
grower in 1989. I wasn't involved in the marijuana production, 
although I did trim buds for him a few times. My friend had bought a 
building on the east side and was setting up a growing operation in 
there. He needed someone to turn a really big room into several 
smaller rooms. I was no carpenter but I could knock a few boards 
together and he needed someone he could trust. So I spent a few 
months framing up rooms and hanging drywall. At the time it really 
came in handy for my finances  especially because I was paid in cash 
at the end of each workday.

As is not unusual in these cases, the guy I worked for got busted 
some years later. Then he moved to California, where they tolerated 
this sort of behavior better at the time.

A couple of years after I worked for the grower I got into vegetable 
gardening. I was living in the Brightmoor neighborhood at the time 
and there were a lot of empty lots in the area. One was next door to 
my house. As I dug in the earth and made vegetables grow I thought 
I'd try throwing a few marijuana seeds in the ground. Sinsemilla 
(seedless) marijuana was still exotic and, for me, prohibitively 
expensive at the time. So it wasn't hard to find a marijuana seed. 
And my neighbors' attitude seemed to be that whatever is growing in 
your garden is your business.

One thing I learned from that experience was that the offspring of a 
plant with a modest amount of THC in it could produce something much 
more potent. I figured it was the dies cast of genetics. Two people 
have kids and all the kids aren't exactly alike. Some might be taller 
or stouter than the others. Some have different colors of hair. Some 
might be a little smarter than the others. In the end I was able to 
grow some very potent pot. And the stuff that wasn't so good I could 
just throw away.

Actually during this time a friend of a friend came to visit from 
Montana or North Dakota or somewhere in that general area. He 
couldn't believe I had a garbage bag full of pot that I was going to 
throw away. He took it with him with the intention of selling it in 
an area where there wasn't much available.

When I moved from Brightmoor to a neighborhood without open spaces I 
stopped growing. Then I stayed out of it because I had a kid and I 
didn't want to have my family torn asunder because of marijuana - or 
lose my house. The 600-square-feet house I had in Brightmoor cost me 
$3,500; my new place is a considerably bigger investment.

I started growing again a couple of years ago since Michigan has a 
medical marijuana law. I have arthritis and I qualified for a medical 
marijuana card due to pain. I bought seeds from a mail order seed 
house - something I would never have done years ago. I grew a few 
plants in my yard. I put them in late in the season so they wouldn't 
get huge - a technique I found because of my vegetable gardening. 
There is a privacy fence along two sides of my yard, plus three 
garages and greenery blocking other areas. And I have a latch and 
lock on the garden gate. The only way it can be seen by passersby is 
if they fly over my yard.

Now I want to start growing indoors. I don't grow enough during the 
summer to last for the next year. Besides, the buds get old, dried 
out and powdery after a while. Growing indoors gives you a better 
chance to maintain a steady supply. Growing outdoors is only a little 
more complicated than dropping a seed in the dirt, applying water and 
waiting for Mother Nature to do her thing.

Indoors you have to be concerned with all kinds of factors as you try 
to recreate Mother Nature. You have to buy costly equipment such as 
lights and humidifiers and carbon dioxide generators. You have to 
maintain humidity and deal with pests such as mites and thrips which 
like to eat your leaves.

I'm working on it slowly. I've framed up a space in the corner of my 
basement. I've got a 400 watt metal halide light and 1,000 watt high 
pressure sodium light. One's better for growing and the other is 
better for budding. I need timers and sprayers and nutrient 
solutions. You need to deal with air flow in your garden. It's a lot 
to do and a little bewildering at first, but I hope to get it 
together. Part of the reason I'm slow is that you have to buy all 
that equipment and I am loathe to give up the cash all at once.

It's a new project and I hope to get it right. I hear it can take a 
year or more to get it together. Wish me luck.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom