The art, and science, behind growing medical marijuana

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — A tiny spider mite is all it could take to cripple Seth Bock’s business.

Bock grows marijuana, legally, for a living, and the peril presented by just one small insect illustrates how difficult it can be to establish a thriving dispensary.

For marijuana dispensaries, it’s never as easy as sticking a few seeds in the ground and watching the plants, and the profits, grow. “There are so many moving parts to this business,” Bock said.His is one of three medical marijuana dispensaries in Rhode Island, and his experience provides vital lessons for companies in Massachusetts that have won licenses to grow and sell marijuana. The first is expected to open in April.

The 12 companies that survived a withering licensing process in Massachusetts will need nearly hermetically sealed buildings to grow marijuana plants. The endeavor demands painstaking attention to heat, ventilation, and humidity levels in a sprawling...

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