How not to grow marijuana

Ten simple steps medicinal-cannabis patients can take to protect their crops

Everything that’s small has to grow. Take the right steps, and you’ll enjoy your medicine in its maturity.

Everything that’s small has to grow. Take the right steps, and you’ll enjoy your medicine in its maturity.

Photo By skip jones

Skip Jones has been an underground cannabis cultivator for 26 years; for obvious reasons, he writes under a pseudonym.

Since the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, Californians have been permitted by law to grow marijuana for personal medical use. Even though it has been legal for almost 13 years now, regulations vary from county to county. In Sacramento, which hasn’t established its own rules, patients are subject to the guidelines set forth by Senate Bill 420, which permits six mature and 12 immature plants and may possess up to 8 ounces of dried cannabis.

For patients who grow indoors, six mature plants and 12 immature plants can take up a significant amount of space. If the patient wants to grow enough marijuana to last until the next harvest, he or she must grow bigger plants or have a continuous garden, which can draw unwanted attention.

I’m talking about thieves. For anyone who creates something of value, there’s always been someone else willing to take it from them. A dismal fact of human existence, but nevertheless a fact, as evidenced by the rash of home invasions tied to medical-marijuana cultivation that occurred in Sacramento this October.

According to The Sacramento Bee, plants were taken by armed gunmen at three of the residences. At a fourth residence, the occupant interrupted the gunmen and was fatally wounded.

In short, if you’re going to cultivate your own medicine in the city, you’re opening yourself up to an array of problems and risks. Here are some strategies I’ve learned over the years that might help patients who are new know what they’re up against.

1. First rule of fight club: Don’t talk about fight club!

Don’t worry about telling anyone else what you’re up to; what they don’t know can’t hurt you.

2. If you medicate where you grow, people will know.

When people smell pot burning, it turns heads and labels your domicile a pot house, plants or not.

3. If you live in an apartment complex, use compact fluorescents.

One way a thief can tell you’re growing is to look at your electric meter or listen for the large fans needed to cool HID lighting. Compact fluorescents use less than a third of the electricity as HID, and you’ll get almost-as-good results. In addition, because most homes aren’t wired to support high-intensity discharge lights, you lessen the chance of having a fire.

4. Lights on during the day, lights out at night.

Even though you’re a patient and your status is legal, the thermal-imaging scopes used by law enforcement don’t know that. If it can read your heat signature from a helicopter, that’s enough probable cause to come knocking at your door. (Always have your physician’s recommendation within easy reach for such occasions.) If your room temperature will allow it, always run your lights during the day, because thermal imaging only works at night.

5. If you want to do well, cover the smell.

If you cut the smell of the garden, you lower your chances of a rip-off by at least 50 percent. Do not skimp on the expense, there is no substitute for carbon filter technology. For under $500, you can purchase a fan-and-filter combination package at the better indoor gardening stores in Sacramento.

6. Investigate before you propagate.

Don’t move into a neighborhood and start a garden without feeling things out and getting to know your potential neighbors. Neighborhoods with teenagers and gangbangers should be avoided. The last thing any sick person wants is some kid or criminal breaking in and stealing their medicine.

7. Ask your landlord for permission.

Have some respect for other people’s property, they worked hard for it. You can avoid unwanted visits from the guys in blue by being honest with your landlord.

8. Do not destroy or damage your dwelling if you rent it.

Water damage can be devastating to a subfloor and a raised foundation, causing rot and mold problems for the owners to deal with.

9. Do not have parties or gatherings where you are growing.

What is the goal here?

10. Keep a spotless garden, leave no waste on site.

Clean all signs of gardening: nutrients, old bottles, rock wool, stalks, leaves and anything else thieves can spot as an indicator that you’re cultivating.

Some of these preventative actions go without saying, but better safe than sorry. Choose your location wisely, be respectful to the environment and the people around you.

Remember, as a member of the medical-marijuana community, you are protected in court and have safe access to medication. If you cultivate your own medication and take certain steps to keep your grow safe from unwanted visitors, your access will remain secure. As Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”