By April Johnson @APRILBLAKE_
The process begins in late April.
Just like any other plant cultivation, the seeds must be germinated.
The miracle of life takes place as the freshly sprouted seeds come alive allowing them to be planted in small pots and finally transplanted to larger pots or the ground.
Growing in the ground provides opportunity for a larger yield because the roots can spread out further.
Five months later, the branches will have thickened, the leaves grown larger and the sweet aroma of the plant’s flowers is intoxicating as the time to harvest creeps up.
But these aren’t your grandmother’s tomatoes that are being grown here. Instead it is one of the most profitable crops that can be grown in Northern California.
Cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana has transformed into a cash crop that pumps nearly 70 million dollars into the Californian economy each year.
Dublin native, Jane Doe (her name has been changed due to privacy concerns), has developed a green thumb. She has been growing marijuana for four years. With her Medical Marijuana license, she can grow up to 6 plants under the CA health and safety code sec 11362.5.
“The best part about growing is that you can use every part of the plant” says Doe.
She also explains that while growing medical marijuana is a rewarding task, it does take a lot of water, however conservation is the key.
This is especially important considering the drought that has burdened California over the past few years.
In her household, shower and sink water is reused to water the cannabis plants. She claims the soaps actually help the plants grow.
While cannabis and hemp plants do require less water than cotton plants it is vital to California’s sustainability to be conscientious of water use as to not get fines.
But the growing of the plant and avoiding fines is just half of the battle.
The months of September and October are known to growers and sellers alike as “harvest season”.
Nearly 50 percent of California’s annual supply of marijuana is produced during these months, according to Harborside Health Center in Oakland, CA.
Her process of harvesting begins when the flowers, also known as “buds”, are ready to be cut and dried.
The drying curing process of marijuana is just as, if not more, important as the growing aspect of the cultivation of the crop.
If buds are not cured correctly, mold and decay of the plant can take place, ruining the product all together, rendering the marijuana unusable, as it is medically unsafe to utilize. Then it is time to trim.
Unsightly leaves and stems are things that many veteran consumers of marijuana as well as cannabis dispensary owners do not want.
Trimming jobs have become very prevalent in Northern California.
A quick look on the online inquiry site “craigslist.com” will show that growers across California are looking for people to help with the manicuring process of cultivating marijuana.
Once the marijuana is finished being dried, cured and trimmed, it hits the market for consumers to enjoy.
Harborside, along with several dispensaries in Northern California, utilize local growers during this time of the year.
But the marijuana business and its clientele isn’t what it used to be.
Walking through Harborside Health Center, it is notable that nearly a quarter of the patients appeared to be over 70 years-old.
This strongly contrasts the stereotypical image of a “twenty-something year old” college student just looking to get highin their spare time.
Many elderly patients accompanied by their caregivers looked for medicine and services to fit their needs and ease their ailments.
While the patients’ ages ranged from early 20’s to mid-80’s, it was clear that Harborside had something to offer everyone.
The medical marijuana industry has grown far beyond simply supplying patients with cannabis.
Harborside offers a wide array of free services aimed at reducing chronic pain and improving daily life.
Classes are available to patients of all ages and from all walks of life. People who just see dispensaries are “weed stores”, but Harborside is actively changing that narrative.
Spiritual practices such as Tai Chi, acupuncture and Reiki are offered to reduce stress. “Acupuncture is a useful alternative for those who do not want to take pain medication,” according to flyers available at Harborside’s front desk.
A major focus in many of the classes was pain reduction. The Nutrition Workshop “Managing Chronic Pain with Nutrition” aims to decrease pain by educating patients about how diet can cause pain and inflammation.
Anyone from athletes to the elderly can benefit from Harborside’s Chiropractic services. Therapeutic yoga classes are offered as a way to relieve stress and soothe physical ailments.
There is even a “Thrivers” women’s support group where women who have experienced trauma come together to learn tools to help lower stress triggers and manage self-medication.
Harborside offers substance abuse and misuse counseling to help users learn more information about substances and quit tobacco, pharmaceutical substances and alcohol.
Another service offered to patients is growing classes where patients are taught how to grow and harvest marijuana for either personal or distribution purposes.
As medical marijuana has clearly become a profitable and thriving industry, the harvest season has stayed true to that theme.
And looking forward to what September and October will bring to this year, consumers and growers alike will be enjoying the fruits, or in this case flowers, of their labor.