Legal Grow Room Tours at Opus Pharms

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In July of 2001 I received my first “Exemption 56” from Health Canada in the mail, which gave me legal permission to “grow, use and possess cannabis marijuana for personal medical reasons”. That was the early medical marijuana program, and I was granted permission to possess 30 grams of cannabis and grow seven plants, but under the condition “each plant has no more than 30 grams of useable marijuana on it.” Go figure!

My current medical marijuana license allows me to grow 35 plants, store up to 1,575 grams, and possess up to 210 grams on my person, anywhere in Canada. Every year the license has to be renewed, which is a tedious and disorganized process that the federal government has no interest in improving. The government does have interest, however, in phasing out medical marijuana growing licenses so exemptees are forced to buy schwag from one source. This dust of cannabis bud, leaf and stem comes from a mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba, and has been proven to be unhealthy and substandard for medical marijuana users. It would be disaster if medical marijuana patients couldn’t grow their own medicine!

I’ve been a very public marijuana activist for years and have run in provincial elections as a BC Marijuana Party candidate. In 2006, some close friends jokingly suggested I should start doing tours of my grow room. Showing a clean, safe, legal indoor garden could dispel the myth that all indoor marijuana “grow-ops” are dangerous. As we talked more, an idea was born: Opus Pharms. I called the venture Opus Pharms because “Opus” is my online name at the forums, and “Pharm” is how I describe my medicine farm—after all, as a grower I am also a farmer!

The strains in the room are Burmese, Island Sweet Skunk, Lumbre x Maple Flo, and Cherry Hemingway. Burmese is my medicinal favorite as it’s powerful and has a unique sweet spice scent. The Island Sweet Skunk has a very energetic and uplifting high, and is my favorite strain to smoke when working. The Lumbre x Maple Flo was an experiment; even though it was great to look at, the smoke was only average. The Cherry Hemingway is new to my room and I’ve found it’s an excellent appetite catalyst and pain reliever, so I am going to continue growing it.

The garden takes up my whole basement area. My work area, well lit by fluorescent lights, is where I store and mix my nutrients, make cuttings/clones, and keep my calendars, notes and meters. The laundry sink and water/nutrient reservoir are also in this area. Connected to the first space is a room that hosts my workstation, where I mix soil, do planting and re-potting, and store extra pots, bales of soil mix and other large spare items.

The small space under the stairs is my clone area. It’s just 4 feet by 2.5 feet, and no more than 5 feet high at the taller end, but there’s just enough room for two 4-foot, two-bulb
fluorescent fixtures and a coffee table. This is where I keep a tray for clones and new seedlings, so they can “toughen up” before going under the higher-intensity light in the vegetation room.

Now we get to where most of the fun happens! This area has three separate rooms: the vegetation room, the bud room and the drying room. I divided one large section of the basement into three rooms with a hallway connecting them all, which is where I keep my motherboard/electrical panel and ballasts. I installed intake/exhaust vents where two large windows had been, then sealed the exterior wall with 14-inch fiberglass insulation and a vapor barrier. To eliminate any pungent weed smell from going outdoors or throughout my house, I keep a 2,200-cfm (cubic-feet-per-minute) adjustable blower and carbon filter in the bud room and a carbon filter in the drying room.

The vegetation room is like a small walk-in closet. The space is 43 inches wide by 8 feet long. A small 14-inch oscillating fan keeps the air moving in the room and a 465-cfm blower vents air directly outside via a 10-inch duct. I have two 400-watt metal halide (MH) lights in what are referred to as “batwing” reflectors. There’s no carbon filter in this room because only the mother plant and young vegetating plants are stored here, none of which have bud, and therefore don’t smell.

The drying room, next to the vegetation room, is where the harvested cannabis dries. It’s just a small closet, 23 inches wide by 6 feet long, with hanging lines for branches and a few mounted screen trays to hold little loose buds. There’s a 265-cfm blower leading out a 6-inch duct to a small carbon filter so the smell of drying and curing medicine doesn’t go anywhere else.

The bud room is 9 feet by 11 feet and has four lights in total. There are three 1,000-watt bulbs in air-cooled reflectors – two MH and one High Pressure Sodium (HPS) – and one 400-watt HPS in a batwing reflector. The air-cooled reflectors use a 1,000-cfm blower; the air is brought in from outdoors via a 10-inch vent, and drawn into an insulated 27-inch by 14-inch by 12-inch collector box mounted to the wall. From here the air moves into two separate 6-inch ducts made with flex pipe; one pipe sends air through one reflector, and the other pipe to the other two reflectors, then both meet an 8-inch duct that connects to a 1-square-foot collection box, again mounted to the wall. On the other side of that wall a 10-inch duct connects to the blower box, so the hot unscented air vents outside. I use a box on the wall because it’s easier to step-up the duct size, and you get a better seal with ductwork going through walls. I find that using larger ducting reduces the noise and allows for better airflow and less strain on blowers.

You can come to my cannabis garden if you visit beautiful Vancouver Island to see Canada’s rugged west coast. Tofino, Ucluelet and Canada’s spectacular Pacific Rim National Park are all nearby, and to get to those places you have to drive by Port Alberni, my hometown. The Pharm is open for tours most days, but hours vary according to the season. If you have never seen a grow room and never touched and smelled real live cannabis plants, you can do so with full safety and legality in my home. I am permitted to have visitors with no legal liability to any guest. To book for individuals or groups (up to four), write to Opus at [email protected] with “tours” as the subject. Each visit costs $10, part of which goes to the defense fund for Marc Emery, Michelle Rainey, and Greg Williams in their fight against extradition. Visit my website for more information!