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MSU Extension offers advice on growing medical marijuana

April 13, 2011

In response to the legalization of medical marijuana in Michigan with the 2008 Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, MSU Extension is making advice available to those with questions on how to care for medical marijuana plants safely and effectively.

MSU Extension representatives are giving advice to parties growing medical marijuana regarding insect control, concerns on plant nutrition and other information on growing the plant indoors, said Jeanne Himmelein, an MSU Extension educator with a specialty in environmental quality and greenhouse and nursery production.

Although she said she has not received many calls regarding the specific care of medical marijuana plants, Himmelein said it was important for those who have questions to get correct information on growing the plants from a credible source to avoid any difficulties.

“We do want (growers of medical marijuana) to follow laws and regulations,” she said. “We’d rather have them come to us than go to the local hardware store and guessing.”

Himmelein said MSU Extension is in the process of creating a general guide to caring for indoor plants, which would give interested parties tips on how to grow and care for various indoor plants, including medical marijuana.

Luke Smith, a student who asked that his real name be withheld to prevent potential legal ramifications, grows medical marijuana in his home. He said many factors — including lighting, insects and temperature — affect the success of any given medical marijuana harvest and said the process is not something a person should go into halfheartedly.

“It’s a lot harder than people picture — it takes a lot of patience, and you have to put a lot of time, money and effort into it,” he said.

Smith said finding credible information on how to grow medical marijuana is helpful, but said the process is mainly trial and error and is something the grower has to work at to improve results.

“In the end, experience is the only way to ensure a good harvest,” he said. “You have to mess up a few times to fix all the specific problems that go wrong.”

Zach Jarou, scientific director at Cannalytics, a cannabis testing laboratory in Lansing, said information about how to grow medical marijuana readily is available but not always accurate.

“If you do an Internet search for growing medical marijuana, there’s no evidence behind a lot of the solutions (for growing problems),” Jarou said. “Getting that information from a credible source is crucial.”

Himmelein said she is open to providing advice to those with questions on how to care for their medical marijuana plants because it is a legal plant in Michigan being used for medical reasons. She said it especially is important for growing operations to be done safely because of the nature of use.

“It’s been identified that there is a need (for information on indoor plants), and it’s fine that we can share,” Himmelein said. “Our ultimate goal is that it’s being done in a safe manner because we know it’s consumable.”

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