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Debunking ‘Reefer Madness’: a behind-the-scenes look at a marijuana growing facility

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - In an unassuming building in an undisclosed location, Wild West Farms has 250 plants that will one day yield medicinal marijuana.

"We do a living soil, no-till method," said owner Kalen Elston. "We don't use chemical fertilizer or pesticides."

The room designated for the vegetation state is equipped with a humidifier, fans, and lights. The goal is to keep the space muggy and warm. The plants will be separated by gender, then moved to the flower room, with a different regulated environment.

Elston says customers should take the time to get to know their growers, and learn if they are using chemical pesticides. Wild West Farms' plants have microscopic inhabitants, Hypoaspis miles, that act as natural pesticides.

"We don’t use chemical fertilizer or pesticides," he explained. "We're going to provide testing on our product, even though we're not required right now by the state, we want to provide testing because that's the route we think growers should go to prove they're not putting pesticides on it."

He says the vote decriminalizing medicinal cannabis is a step in the right direction for Oklahomans. But the last thing the state needs, he says, is for the growing industry to be limited to big business.

"What happens is they control the quality, they control the price," Elston said. Without competition, he believes larger businesses will not only wipe out the mom-and-pops looking to succeed in the cannabis industry.

He says the biggest challenge for the budding cannabis industry is fighting the stigma that marijuana is unhealthy and unnatural.

"I've seen churches push toward that this would be un-Christlike or ungodly, but in reality this has already been medicine. It was used as medicine long before prohibition."

Wild West Farms got the paperwork to begin their growing operation in August, and their two-man operation is small for now, with plans to expand.

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