Growing pot legally in Manitoba not so easy — except for the growing part

Trying to grow your own pot at home? In Manitoba, it's not as easy as in other provinces. Getty Images

So, you’ve decided to grow your own pot legally while you wait for the laws in Manitoba to change. But guess what — it’s not that easy.

Thursday, Manitoba man Jesse Lavoie filed a constitutional challenge against the province in hopes of removing the ban on growing pot without a medical cannabis licence. The Manitoba government declined to comment.

But even for those who do have a right to grow, it’s still a complicated process, said Winnipegger Raelynn Swarbrick.

Step 1: Find a doctor

Swarbrick, also known as RaeRae on her 2 Baked Girls podcast, said she had to search for quite some time before she found a doctor willing to work with her and her daughter.

Her girl, now seven, has been using CBD oil to help with neurological issues for a few years.

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“At that time, recreational marijuana wasn’t legal yet, so it was hard for us to find a doctor that would prescribe a CBD prescription for her. She was five at the time. So it definitely took us a long time to find a doctor that would even work with us for that.”

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Finding a doctor was also a challenge for Michelle, even after cannabis was legalized.

“Here I am, I suffer from anxiety issues and I know, because I’ve been using it illegally, that it helps me a lot,” she said.

“My doctor said he didn’t know all that much about pot so he wouldn’t prescribe it.”

Michelle, who Global News has chosen not to name for fears of repercussions at her job, had to eventually add an app to her phone to work with a nurse practitioner in Ontario.

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Step 2. Get a licence

Once you have a doctor, said Swarbrick, that doctor or nurse practitioner has to fill out a medical document, similar to a prescription, which then has to be taken to a licensed distributor to be filled.

Swarbrick said she ended up working with Delta-9 to get the process started for her daughter.

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However, because her daughter is a child, that licence has to be renewed every three months. Typically, licences are renewed yearly.

“It is quite expensive for her to keep her licence … and then just buying the CBD oil on its own is quite expensive — $80 a bottle.”

Step 3. Buy the equipment

Once you’ve got your licence, you have the right to grow four plants at a time in your home.

Rick Macl of Growers n’ Smokers in Winnipeg and Brandon, said your setup to grow doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be right.

“It’s very important to control your temperature and humidity,” he said.

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Mostly, what people need is a space to grow, good lighting, a tent to control humidity and a fan to control the heat.

Macl said to never cheap out on your lighting, because that is what will make or break your operation.

“The most important thing to spend the most money on is your lights because you’re trying to replicate the sun, period.”

The lights likely will never need replacing, he said, if you’ve got good ones.

After that, you need something like a pop-up tent to help control humidity, and then you need a fan to remove waste heat from the lights.

Step 4: Find good quality seeds

This is tricky, said Macl, because the strains used by legal distributors are “not as good quality” as ones found on the black market.

Legal distributors had to bring in some seeds, what Macl calls “genetics,” from the black market once just to get started. Those distributors are not allowed to sell any other seeds to consumers in Manitoba.

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Finding quality genetics is one of the most common questions he gets at his stores, said Macl.

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Michelle said she also had trouble getting the strain she wanted.

“I had to get them from a friend,” she said. “I shouldn’t have to do that.”

Step 5: Monitor and grow

This is the easy part, said Macl.

“I try to steer people to the organic side because it’s more forgiving,” he said.

While there are all sorts of different fertilizers and food for your crop, Macl said his goal for new growers is to get that first successful crop done.

“If you want to play and play scientist one day, go ahead and do it when you have a pocketful of money because it costs time and money to experiment and risk failure,” he said.

It takes anywhere from two to six months to grow your plants, depending on the strain.

Step 6: Avoid the gimmicks

There are lots of resources online and on YouTube, said Macl, but he added that people should be careful about what advice they take.

“Let’s be honest: those on YouTube are people who haven’t grown a lot of cannabis for a long period of time. So they’re always experimenting with some new gimmick,” he said.

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“My whole idea, to I’m trying to teach people how to grow, how black market growers grow, because I used to be one of them.”

Michelle said the best advice she got was from people who had been growing pot for years.

“The legal growers are all just learning, like I had to do,” she said. “Going to people who have been doing it for years, decades, that worked better for me.”

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