Inside look at highly-secure medical marijuana operation


10TV got an inside look at what that means inside a cultivation facility in a location we cannot specify other than to say it is outside of Chicago.

Jason Nelson, who is Vice President of Production at Cresco Labs Illinois marijuana cultivation facility, told us that what they do is more than a grow operation, it is science.

Their goal is to produce their pharmaceutical cannabis products with the same rigor and standards as medications you buy at the drugstore.

“You’re putting yourself to the same scrutiny that Tums or an antacid company or any other pharmaceutical company might do with a consistent repeatable event,” Nelson said.

The science begins with these “genetic mothers” of known and established cannabis strains– or cultivars. They are maintained in what’s called vegetative perpetuity to maintains their proprietary nature.

The genetic mothers have ‘offspring’ bear names including Pineapple Express, Tangerine Kush, and Island Sweet Skunk– a strain that originated in Hawaii, moved to the mainland and medical markets of California, Colorado and through a partnership is now in Illinois.

Cannabis is grown inside the facility’s grow rooms with special lighting to simulate the summer season. Plants here bathe under 18 to 20 hours of light and a four-hour nap.

Mature plants are moved out as they grow and another batch of the baby clones come in.

The teams cultivate the marijuana using a computer automated system that ensures every plant in every row gets consistent water, fertilization, and care.

Cresco CEO Charlie Bachtell said it is easy to write all of this off as simply growing weed but he believes they’re producing consistent repeatable agricultural medicine that is consistent.

Plant blooms are harvested and then dried in a 14 to 21-day curing process meant to maintain their medicinal properties.

A third party independent lab comes in to run batch testing on every strain. Nelson told us the lab takes a random flower sealed in tamper proof bag.

Lab techs put the flowers through four tests to certify their safety by measuring for potency, checking for visual contaminants, pesticides and then a microbial cleaning to ensure a patient wouldn’t inhale anything that would harm a compromised immune system.

“Once it passes all of those tests those results are uploaded to the state tracking system that allows me to print a product label for this product,” Nelson said.

It’s a four-month process and results in cannabis flowers transformed into pharmaceuticals that can be vaporized in an electronic cigarette, made into an oil, and or into snacks or ‘edibles’ including chocolates or chewable fruit candies.

What is cannabis?

Cannabis is a plant that includes three species of flowering herbs: Cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis ruderalis.

Cannabis sativa varieties are known for being energizing, uplifting effect and are appropriate for treating depression, nausea, and obesity

Cannabis indica types are said to better for alleviating body pain and anxiety and are the most common type of cannabis on both the black market and in legal dispensaries

Cannabis ruderalis according to experts, has poor yield and low quantities. It is not commonly grown nor is there a demand from patients or recreational consumers.

Know the Lingo

Dab– Slang for a dose of Butane Hash Oil (BHO) that is smoked or vaporized. It’s also a verb as in “dabbing” which is the act of consuming dabs, often using special pipes, bongs or vaporizer attachments.

Edibles/Medibles– Food that’s been infused with cannabis to provide it with medical efficacy and possibly deliver euphoria. They feature a significantly longer onset time than smoking or vaporizing typically requiring 45 minutes to an hour to achieve onset.

Kush– Cannabis plants from the Hindu Kush mounts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kush varieties are indicas and most effective for fighting pain, appetite stimulation and use as a sedative.

OG—Not original gangster but “ocean grown”. The OG label is used to describe a family of cannabis strains originating in Southern California.

Shatter— A specialized form of BHO that’s characterized by a rigid stiff form and is similar to wax. Some manufacturers and gardeners prefer sativa strains for the creation of shatter.

Wax – A cannabis concentrate derived from Butane Hash Oil (BHO) that is very similar to shatter. Wax offers patients and recreational consumers a way to consume very high-potency cannabis something of value to those who are very sick and require rapid onset with the greatest potency possible.

Topical – A cannabis extract involving the infusion of cannabinoids in a lotion or cream intended to be applied to the skin. These products are helpful for those who cannot smoke (pediatric use). Topicals are said to be helpful for skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis and even skin cancer.