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Want to grow your own cannabis? A Peoria business can help

Want to grow your own cannabis? A Peoria business can help

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Monday unveiled her long-awaited plan for civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department, saying “the buck stops with me” in an ordinance that would keep authority for hiring and firing the superintendent and other key Police Department decisions with the mayor.

PEORIA — Cannabis is not hard to grow, but doing it well requires know-how.

"It just depends on your expectations," said Wes Duffy, owner of Tru Health Care and Wellness in Peoria, a shop that carries cannabis-growing supplies. "It's a weed; it only needs soil, water and light. You will yield a little bit if you were to just set it up in the window and let it grow. You could probably get more if you set it on the deck, because it likes direct sunlight. And you would get even more if you set it in the ground because the soil is endless, and the bigger the root, the bigger the fruit. Outdoor plants can get humungous."

Outdoor growing comes with a caveat, however. The law requires it to be locked up, said Duffy. And since the outdoor environment is essentially uncontrolled, plants get exposed to things like pollution, pests and pollen, which could have a detrimental effect on the harvest.

Duffy opened his shop in 2020 after the prohibition on cannabis ended in Illinois. Under the new law, individuals can grow up to five plants for personal consumption.

Duffy's shop is all about natural, plant-based wellness. In addition to cannabis growing supplies, he carries kits for growing mushrooms, CBD products and bee-keeping supplies. Much of his shop is filled with big bags of organic soils that he says are good for cannabis and vegetables alike, with amendments like bat and fish guano, kelp, and worm castings. He also carries nutrients that can be added to the soil and water, and ways to test the soil. And for people who want to get serious about growing cannabis, he carries the supplies for hydroponics, grow lights and tents.

"You put it wherever you need to put it. If your basement is a nice environment, it's not super cold or wet or moldy, it would probably be the best place to put it. Some people put it in that attic, which can get super hot and you will be fighting that," said Duffy.

Tents are helpful because they isolate plant from bugs and pollutants, and they are key when it comes time to force the plant to bloom. Certain varieties require light to be carefully controlled for the process to occur — 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of light.

"It fools the plant into thinking it's fall," said Duffy.

While cannabis will grow well on its own, it requires some effort to get a good crop of flowers with their high concentration of THC — the psychoactive compound which produces the high sensation. In a natural environment, cannabis will pollinate and grow seeds, a process which lowers the yield. Growers pull out male plants so that female plants don't get pollinated.

There's a lot of science behind the growing of cannabis, and there's also some skill that needs to be developed when it comes time to trim and dry the harvest. Cannabis production is an art form that illegal growers have perfected over the years, and now that information is readily available to the general public. Duffy is happy to help his customers be successful.

"We are affiliated with the Illinois Growers Club, who has three seasons on YouTube — "Grow Cannabis From Seed to Harvest" — showing you some of the tricks to increase your yield and quality," said Duffy.

Like homebrewing beer, cannabis production is a hobby some people will be excited to take up. But a lot of people will be put-off by the technical skills involved. Just like alcohol, once prohibition ended and home production was no longer necessary, many people were happy to purchase it rather than going through the trouble of making it.

The problem is that, for some people, cannabis is not recreational, and cannabis sold in the dispensaries is expensive. People suffering from chronic pain, PTSD and a variety of other ailments swear by the medicinal quality of cannabis. These are the people Duffy is most eager to help.

"It's a way for medical cannabis card holders to get the medicine they need more economically," he said. "It's just added stress if you are trying to figure out how to get money to get your medicines."

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