In more recent years, enterprising medicinal cannabis growers have ditched dirt and invested in one of the following hydroponic growing systems.
Hydroponic cultivation: The lighting and temperature regulation measures involved in standard cultivation also come into play with hydroponics. But as the "hydro" in hydroponics implies, the cultivation method is all about water -- forget about the soil, literally. Growing medicinal cannabis the hydroponic way uses inert soil alternatives, such as pebbled gravel, that merely anchor the root systems, rather than providing nourishment. Instead, marijuana plants get their fill from nutrient-treated water pumped, dripped or wicked directly toward the roots, depending on which hydroponic system a grower selects. Hydroponics have become a popular way to cultivate cannabis since the direct access to water and nutrients can accelerate growth, helping it mature up to twice as fast (12 weeks versus 24 weeks) [source: Turner].
Aeroponic cultivation: A subset of hydroponics, aeroponics is becoming more popular among medicinal marijuana growers [source: CannabisSearch]. The hallmark of an aeroponics system is a continual, nutrient-rich mist sprayed directly onto to the plants' roots. These compact setups can maximize marijuana yield in indoor spaces, but since aeroponics is an advanced growing technique, it probably isn't suitable for green cannabis cultivators.
When considering how to grow medicinal cannabis, don't forget the crucial first step: Check with state legalization laws. Even for people who live in one of the 16 states with legalized possession statutes, farming too much might attract legal trouble, rather than the therapeutic relief the prized plants are intended to produce.