The look inside the state's secretive program comes as the struggling medical marijuana industry in Illinois is poised to grow.

In a warehouse in Joliet, hundreds of marijuana plants sway under high-intensity lights, taking in carbon dioxide-rich air, sucking up a constant feed of nutrients and bristling with buds.

Like Olympic athletes, the plants are rigorously trained and intensively pampered. Tiny predator bugs patrol the surface of the vegetation, hunting down any pests. Workers prune stems and leaves to put all the plants' energy into buds that produce the drug's euphoric and medicinal effects.

The process churns out 200 pounds of high-grade pot every month.

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Robert McCoppin ~ Chicago Tribune ~

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