The Monster is bigger than the Machine: Curing the World, one plant at a time.

People grow all sorts of things in their homes; plants, orchids, herbs, vegetables. With the upcoming legalization of marijuana in Saskatchewan, cannabis is quickly making its way up the list. While people have been growing illegally for decades, Saskatchewan residents will soon be able to legally grow up to four plants (at a certain height) for personal consumption in the comforts of their own home. But installing, maintaining and processing hydroponic equipment and your own bud can be daunting, costly, and time-consuming without the proper know-how and experience.

Enter Darin Wheatley, local hydroponic guru and owner of the independent business, Whole Leaf Healing Tree. Resembling Jeff Bridge’s iconic non-conformist character, The Dude (with a work ethic), Wheatley has been teaching/working with hydroponics for the past 16 years and has made it his goal to provide people with the means to become self-sufficient and heal themselves through cannabis.

“Across the globe, cannabis is becoming legalized and it’s hitting at our front door. And it’s about time. There’s been too many people suffering under prohibition and a lot of harm done… It’s time to bring cannabis out of the closet, bring people out of the closet, and make it legal”, he said, “ it’s not just about getting stoned and Woodstock anymore. It’s about healing yourself and becoming one.”

At Whole Leaf, potential cannabis growers are encouraged to come in for a consultation prior to installation. To help in understanding how many plants they need, why they need the plant, and what strain of cannabis would be medically beneficial.

“If you have Crohn’s disease, we can recommend something with a higher CBD level (a component of cannabis with significant medical benefits without giving the user the feeling of being “stoned,” a sensation more commonly found in the THC component). If you’re looking for pain relief, a higher THC level of something. We can come up with the proper plant and the proper area in their house where they should grow.”

For a fee, Whole Leaf will install the equipment, which altogether is called a “grow tent,” in your house and make sure it’s done right. Teaching you about proper lighting, nutrients, soils, and hydroponic methods while ensuring safety, preventing hazards such as mold and odors.

“Most people are using it for medicinal purposes, you want to make sure that you’re taking a safe product into your body. And I think cannabis is just as safe as half the shit thrown on the grocery store shelves these days.”

A sentiment Wheatley shares not only about the food we eat, but with government regulated dispensaries, which can be speculated to soon become the majority. “The grow tent model is a nice environment for people who want to grow their own, and not have to depend on the government and other people where you don’t know where the product is coming from, which could be dangerous. It could be sprayed with something or not flushed properly so it’s full of heavy metals that were used to grow it.”

Wheatley’s long-time life partner and new business associate, Tanya Bundus, echoes similar concerns. “When you come in here, Darin loves helping you. When you walk into the legalized dispensaries and they ask ‘Well, what do you want?’, they don’t even care what you want or why you want it, they just give it to you.”

While marijuana legalization is beneficial to Whole Leaf Healing Tree’s business, growers, and all cannabis users, Wheatley advises advocates to approach with caution.

“The government seems to be just monopolizing on it and taking it by the reins and not really conforming to the cannabis culture.” Calling for a united stance against the corporate regimes and political money-machines, “We have a chance right now, in human history, to take this plant, and not make it into that big commodity money thing. We have a chance to take this wonderful plant, make it free for everyone to do whatever they want with it, if we act now. But if we don’t they’re going to take it, and control it, and it will be like alcohol or everything else. It’ll find its way into pharmacopeia.”

This leaves cannabis users (both recreational and medicinal) with two options. Either comply to the uncertain laws and regulations imposed by government officials, or fight the proverbial man and become self-sufficient. Wheatley and Bundus are hopeful, through the tight-knit cannabis community within the province, that the people of Saskatchewan can create real change while retaining the essence of cannabis-culture.

“I think 50 to 100 people would make a way bigger change in a province like Saskatchewan than 10,000 in B.C.”

No matter how it becomes regulated, controlled, or liberated by its human oppressors, Wheatley knows that cannabis will endure, “The Monster, that which is cannabis, is bigger than the machine trying to control it. Even though they are really trying to control it and tax it, they’re never going to get a grip on it.” We must decide if we, as a society, will allow those in control to tighten their grasp, or wriggle out of reach.


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