There may have not been an Illinoisan more ecstatic than Brian Marks when the Prairie State legalized medical cannabis and allowed patients to grow five plants at home.
“Cannabis is a huge passion for me, knowing what it’s done for me, saving my liver and getting me off of narcotics,” said Marks, “but I also have acquired dozens of friends who have their own cannabis stories on how it’s helped them. This gave me the drive to want to help more people change their lives by using cannabis.”
Marks’ passion for cannabis was initiated two years after he sustained a disabling injury during a horrible skydive accident that left him in a hospital bed in his living room for a about a year.
In the 1998 accident, Marks had snapped his right foot, broke his ankle in three spots, blew out his knee, and broke his back and neck. During that time, he became dependent on prescription narcotics to relieve the pain throughout his body.
About two years after the accident, a friend of his introduced him to a new friend who had many years of cannabis growing experience and was willing to not only teach him how to grow his own medicine but also to give him the supplies he needed upfront.
“About six months later my first grow came down,” Marks said, “and I had all the medicine I needed and was able to quickly get off of the narcotics.”
He stayed narcotic free for more than ten years until a “nasty” person in his life turn him. Police arrested and charged him for manufacturing of cannabis.
“It didn’t take long for me to have to get back on narcotics as I was not allowed to use cannabis after my bust,” he said. “I gained about eighty-five pounds and became quite sickly.”
Jump forward to the present, and Marks is again off prescription narcotics and growing his own medicine at home. Only now, he is able to do it legally in Illinois.
Marks’ past has created a deep love and passion for the connection between him and his medicinal plants, and he wanted others to have that opportunity to experience that same connection.
“With my passion for cannabis and my knowledge of my social equity, I decided to sit down and read the newly passed cannabis act,” he said. “After reading through the law and getting some better understanding, I decided to move forward trying to get a license for both a dispensary and a craft grow facility. About this time, I realized that with the reduced charges that I excepted with my boss, I now held social equity in Illinois which gave me extra points on an application for dispensaries and craft grow.”
Marks partnered with an investor and spent many months writing applications for dispensaries and an application for a craft grow facility. Of course, Marks has waited in limbo with all other applicants for the past year as the licensing process stalled.
“While we’re waiting for the state to award the licenses, I started thinking about how underserved our area is in specialty grow stores,” he said.
As part of his commitment to helping customers grow their own medicine and food, Marks and his partner opened up Aroma Grow Store in Wheeling, Illinois.
Aroma Grow Store not only specializes in indoor gardening, organic gardening, micro greens, and sustainable living, but Marks also wanted the retail shop to be a “teaching store” as well.
As such, Aroma Grow Store offers free grow classes.
“We have started with our beginner grow classes which consists of three evenings of a two hour class,” he said. “Classes are either on Sunday nights, Monday nights, or Wednesday nights, and you return every other week for three weeks. We start slow and give you a little more information each week as we don’t want to inundate or scare anybody into thinking that this is hard or rocket science.”
Aroma Grow Store also will be offering intermediate and advanced grower classes, and Marks also plans to create a club where Aroma Grow Store will be getting a room full of advance growers together to “talk shop” about growing: what has worked, what hasn’t worked, what products are great, what products are not, etc.
“We also will be offering some specialty classes in the near future,” he said. “We will have classes on auto flowers, classes on living soil, classes on compost teas, and many other classes to be announced in the near future.”
Marks believes it is important for Illinois medical patients and the entire cannabis industry to have stores like Aroma Grow Store to help fill the gap for those who either cannot afford expensive medicine that dispensaries sell or cannot find the correct strains or dosage.
“It is great that recreational cannabis is legal but unfortunately many people just cannot afford as much as they need which is what brought me to opening a grow store, wanting to teach people how to grow and give them the opportunity to succeed,” Marks said. “If you have a budget of $50 or $5,000, we can help you get set up and get growing?”
Aroma Grow Store has been open since February 1, 2021, and is located at 668 Wheeling Road in Wheeling.
The retail store is open seven days a week from 10 AM to 6 PM and until 8 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Aroma Grow Store will price match to any legitimate reseller of any of the lines Aroma Grow Store sells.
Anybody ordering online will save 10% off by using discount code “INJ10”.
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