Cultivating Medical Cannabis
As a 1.7 billion dollar industry, medical marijuana is big business. A March 2011 market analysis further noted that approximately 24.8 million United States patients are eligible for this remedy (Romero). With the increase number of states legalizing its use, medical marijuana is moving into mainstream U.S.A. where cultivation methods need to be explored. Florida is the Sunshine State and is great for agriculture. It is likely, however, that only indoor cultivation will be allowed in 2015.
Ingredients to Cultivating Medical Cannabis
There are two varieties of Cannabis used to cultivate medical marijuana. The first is Cannabis sativa, preferred among recreational users because of the psychedelic euphoria it offers. The second is cannabis indica, commonly preferred by medical marijuana users because of its body-numbing effect.
Whether cultivation takes place inside or out, there are six major ingredients to successfully tend medical marijuana: air, light, heat, water, nutrients, and a growing medium.
Although Cannabis blooms naturally one time each year, as a photoperiodic-reactive plant, bud development can be stimulated at a rapid rate by intensifying light exposure. The growing plants can produce in two months what it does naturally does in one year with 16 to 24 hours of continual fluorescent light exposure daily. Because this type of intense lighting generates a tremendous amount of heat, cooling fans are usually needed to maintain the optimal 21 degree Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature required. One of the main challenges is climate control.
In addition to traditional dirt, there are two new growing systems available. (1) Hydroponic cultivation, which uses nutrient rich water and inert soil alternatives as opposed to dirt to merely anchor the roots; and (2) Aeroponic cultivation, a subcategory of hydroponics which utilizes a nutrient-rich mist that is sprayed onto the roots directly.
Controls are difficult to maintain with outdoor cultivation. Between exposure to mold, pests, harmful pathogens, and unpredictable weather, it is more difficult to grow and will require certain strains that can thrive in that particular area of the country.
Each state that has legalized the use of medical marijuana (to date there are twenty-one states) includes provisions as to who may or may not cultivate the crop. Some states allow individuals to cultivate their own within certain plant limitations. If Florida passes it’s constitutional amendment in November allowing the use of medical marijuana, only state-regulated medical marijuana treatment centers will be authorized to cultivate it.
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