AUBURN — Ray Logan figures most of the people taking his classes are sick or have family members who are sick.
All they want is a little relief, and there should be no stigma associated with that — even though the subject is growing your own medical marijuana.
“People are little bit on guard, because we still have federal laws to worry about,” said Logan, of Marijuana State University. “If we didn’t have that federal law to worry about, nobody would care. But it does, and they do.”
Logan teaches a three-hour seminar on growing your own cannabis plants, from seed to bud and from cloning to harvesting. He brought the class, along with light boxes, hydroponic planters and plant-growing hardware, to Auburn’s Fireside Inn on Saturday. About 50 people attended the class.
Logan, of Gorham, said he comes to the subject as a layman, having grown the plant for years and amassed some basic agricultural knowledge.
“I’ve been building to it my entire life,” he said. “It’s an ongoing process and you can never know it all. I don’t even pretend to. I’ve got enough that I hope I can get these guys on a solid path. After that, it’s up to them.”
He said he plans to begin offering online courses in June, via his Web site, http://marijuanastateuniversity.com.
The class is a mix of plant biology, physics, chemistry and business with a hint of law thrown in.
“I just bring up the six plants in Maine thing, because that’s all these folks need to worry about,” he said. “We’re not into the politics or anything. I don’t care what the government is doing.”
Maine legislators approved the use of medical marijuana as of March 2010. It allows patients with valid prescriptions or family members and registered caregivers to have up to 2½ ounces of harvested marijuana and a total of six plants per patient.
“Everybody here, at least 95 percent of them, are medical patients,” Logan said. “They want to learn to grow, rather than go to a dispensary. It’s going to be much less expensive — and more available. Most dispensaries in Maine are not even open yet. It’s a slow process, and if these folks can learn to do for themselves, they’re just going to save money.”
Most of the students approached by a reporter Saturday didn’t want to be identified. An Auburn couple said they were investigating growing the plants to treat the wife’s fibromyalgia but worried about letting people in the community know what they were doing. A man from Oxford said he receives medical marijuana from a licensed dispensary but thought it would be less expensive to grow his own.
The class covered setting up the growing space, lighting it, ventilating the plants and harvesting.
“Sunlight, of course, is your best source of light,” he said. “If you can grow outside without somebody stealing from you or getting hassled, that would be the best way. But generally, most of you are not going to do that.”
A nine-foot-square space is fine, and walls painted flat white work best at reflecting the light onto the plants. Fluorescent lights do a good job early in the plant’s life, but high-pressure sodium bulbs — preferably 600-watt — work best for getting the plants ready for harvest.
Ventilation is important for keeping the smell down, and an oscillating fan blowing on the plants helps keep the stems strong and able to support the plant’s weight.
It’s a delicate job, Logan said. Too much heat or cold and the plants will die. Minute changes in soil chemistry can kill a plant and ruin a crop. It’s one thing when it’s a house plant but something else when it’s your medicine, he said.
In the end, the plants are just plants. Logan suggested that farmers, people who have been growing plants for a legal living their whole lives, probably have the best insight.
“I learned more from people doing agriculture than from all the cannabis producers in the world,” he said.