Cannabis growing crash course offered to medical marijuana patients

Young hemp plants (photo courtesy of Wepa Farms)

Medical marijuana patients in Connecticut were granted the right to grow their own cannabis plants this month, and hundreds of patients have since sought help growing their own green thumb, according to a local hemp farmer.

“We see how many people at least try their hand at the plant,” said Luis Vega, founder of Wepa Farms based in North Haven, on Monday. “People are very excited about the way the law has developed. There are many people who want to make sure that they grow within the law. “

Connecticut has had a medical marijuana program on the books for nearly a decade, and the number of participating patients has grown to nearly 54,000. But by October 1, cannabis had to be purchased from one of 18 medical pharmacies across the state.

The most recent change was the result of this year’s law legalizing adult cannabis and laying the groundwork for a recreational retail industry. Lawyers fought for the inclusion of custom regulations because of concerns raised by Governor Ned Lamont’s government that were difficult to regulate.

The law will be extended to all persons over the age of 21 on July 1, 2023. But for now, approved medical patients 18 years of age or older can grow up to three flowering plants and three immature plants in their homes as long as they are secured in the home.

Wepa Farms recently partnered with CannaHealth, a company that certifies patients who qualify for the medical marijuana program, to offer a four-hour course for novice cannabis farmers. In less than a month, Vega said, more than 250 new cultivators sought advice.

“We’re basically doing a crash course for the home medical cultivator,” Vega said. “We start you with the equipment you need, give you a background on what the facility does and what the current state laws are. We’ll also give you an insight into the plant from the agricultural side as it grows. We provide information about the life cycle of the system, preventive maintenance options against pests and the cleanliness of your location. “

Vega said medical growers can also purchase starter kits with the equipment needed to start their own growing operations. He said these kits should contain plant nutrients, plant pots and a light source, as well as a fan and filter for air circulation. New cannabis growers need to get seeds and a grow tent to regulate the environment around their plants.

Although starting a small grower can be expensive to begin with, it is expected to help reduce cannabis costs for medicinal patients. Connecticut’s medical marijuana law specifically doesn’t require health insurance providers to cover the treatment. During a lawmaker hearing in February, a patient with lupus told lawmakers that her annual medical marijuana cost had exceeded nearly $ 6,000.

In all likelihood, Vega said, most patients who chose to grow at home would not produce enough cannabis to avoid traveling to medical pharmacies entirely. But he said that many cultivators found the simple act of caring for the plants in itself beneficial.

“They’re starting to incorporate the actual growing of the plant into part of their therapy,” Vega said. “There’s a plant therapy concept out there. When you crave a living plant – any living plant, in fact – you are also beginning to heal yourself from within. The actual care and growth of the plant is just as therapeutic as the finished product. “

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