ANNA — A local cultivation center for medical cannabis has been granted a license to grow cannabis for adult recreational use. Wellness Group Pharms LLC is now licensed to grow for adult-use and is one of 10 cultivation centers growing for the Jan. 1 launch of adult-use cannabis in Illinois.
Wellness Group Pharms started working in Anna in July 2015 and opened for production in December 2015. The cultivation center produces products sold under the Aeriz label.
Steve Bundy, general manager, said the facility is less like a farm or greenhouse and more like a laboratory. Cannabis plants are grown in an aeroponic system, which allows growers to control the amount of light, air and water the plants receive. Water is mixed with a nutrient blend and controlled for PH and concentration of nutrients.
“We grow in an enclosed high-pressure, nutrient-rich, atomized system that makes air, water, food and light available to plants to help them grow and keep them healthy,” Bundy said. “There is no soil.”
The walls, ceilings and growing tables are all white, like you might see in a high-tech lab, making it easy to keep out dirt and pests. The plants are grown in net pots filled with recyclable clay pebbles.
“When everything is going right,” Bundy said, “no other growing method can top it.”
A Wellness Group Pharms employee checks on young marijuana plants at the company’s grow operation near Anna on Tuesday. Wellness Group Pharms has been licensed to grow cannabis for recreational use.
The plants are grown mostly using a cloning process from what they call “mother” plants. The process itself is considered a trade secret but produces a consistent product. The new plants spend about five weeks in a grow room with other new plants before they are moved to a different room to mature for eight or nine weeks.
After plants are harvested, they are cleaned, dried and cleaned again before they go to processing. What happens next depends on the type of product the cannabis will be. Aeriz sells flowers, vape cartridges, edibles, resin concentrate and bottled teas, coffees and fruit-flavored beverages to dispensaries. Its products are not sold directly to individuals.
For many of the products,