Illustration: Jeff Rogers

If you need another incentive for getting a medical marijuana card — aside from cheaper prices at your local dispensary — how about the ability to legally become your own supplier? A medical card lets you grow up to five plants in your residence. Here, Tom Gliszewski, cofounder of the cannabis-cultivation school Home Grow Chicago, guides first-timers.

What You’ll Need

One four-by-four-foot grow tent, a four-by-four-inch plastic pot with drainage, a 10-gallon pot, soilless mix with perlite and coco with pH levels between 6 and 7, a six-inch inline duct fan, a 400-watt metal halide or high-pressure sodium light kit, an outlet timer, and feminized autoflower cannabis seeds. “There’s a hydroponics store called Chicago Roots that has everything,” says Gliszewski. “You can grow one to two plants [which can yield about 14 grams of flower] for 300 bucks.”

1 Plant

“Presoak your seed in a glass of water. Let it float until it opens, between 24 and 48 hours. Then plant into your starter pot, the four-by-four one.”

2 Grow

“This stage can be about two months. You will need to water every day the first three weeks. Don’t drench the soil — you just want to keep it from drying out. In week 4, transplant to the 10-gallon pot. Place the stem between your index and middle fingers and flip the container upside down, then slide the roots out. It’s best to do this when the soil is dry. Once you put it in the new pot, you’ll need to give the plant more water, so that the soil always stays moist, and at least 18 hours of light a day. When you start to see flowers, change the light cycle to 12 hours on, 12 hours off, which you can do with a standard outlet timer.”

3 Harvest

“When you buy seeds, usually the breeder will give you a flowering time. If it’s 60 days, be ready to cut the buds then. This is the most important stage, when any stress on the plant will affect the product. During the first few weeks of flowering, you will see a major growth spurt — the plant will double in size. You’ll want to keep humidity at no more than 40 percent — a digital hygrometer comes in handy to gauge humidity. Most households have an average of 40 to 45 percent, sometimes higher in the basement. A dehumidifier should do the trick.”