As the legalization of weed spreads around the United States and the rest of the world, more people are considering growing their own marijuana at home. But how can you do this and stay on the right side of the law? While it isn't exactly rocket science, you do need to do some research and think about other associated risks.
Allowing the legalization of cannabis, police say, makes it easy for criminals to hide in plain sight. Small scale growers may be at more risk of burglaries as their stash is easy to resell and may command a temptingly high price. Firefighters voice concern about the type of light bulbs used by growers and their often rather unconventional electrical systems.
There are other unforeseen risks associated with growing weed at home if you don't take care of the humidity levels. Plants can occasionally attract blights, such as powdery mildew, spider mites, fungus gnats, and gray mold. And the smell can increase tensions with neighbors.
However, don't let these worries put you off. Home growing is richly rewarding, and with a small amount of skill and care, you can enjoy a crop of weed that is of vastly superior quality to anything you can buy on the street. Like growing your own tomatoes or potatoes, growing your own weed is also cheaper than buying it in a bag, and the opportunity to learn a skill that will probably turn into a lifetime's hobby.
Empowering, satisfying and enjoyable - growing weed can be done by everyone. Just make sure you follow our top ten tips to doing it legally and safely.
1. Live in an area where growing weed for medicinal use is legal
If you want to grow cannabis legally, it is obviously important to live in a country which permits this by law. Canada, some states of the USA, South Africa and Uruguay are all countries which permit individuals to grow weed, although there are plenty of restrictions.
Suppose you live in a country where cultivating weed for personal use is illegal. In that case, you may want to think twice or take considerable precautions to keep your activities away from the radar of the authorities.
2. Know the law before you get started
Even if growing weed for personal use is legal in your country of residence, there are often restrictions, which it is important to abide by. These can often vary considerably from state to state, so do your research and comply with the law.
Typical restrictions might include growing medical cannabis only, limiting the number of plants (like growing up to six marijuana plants up to 12 plants), only adults aged 21 can grow, ensuring that they cannot be seen by the public, and are for personal consumption only.
Don't expect to be able to start a commercial cannabis farm and get away with it! To grow weed legally, we are talking small scale personal use only (medical or recreational marijuana only) - unless you can get a permit for supplying license medical marijuana to pharmacies which is an entirely different story.
3. Keep things discreet
Remember the WW2 slogan 'careless talk costs lives'? Well, careless talk costs weed plants and potentially your liberty. Don't be tempted to boast to your friends or share posts of your grow on social media. Silence is golden if you live in one of the many areas where the law is somewhat ambiguous.
4. Grow weed for medicinal use
THC is the compound in cannabis associated with its psychoactive or stoned effects. Unlike THC, cannabidiol (CBD) is the main non-intoxicating compound in cannabis, with relaxing and medicinal properties. CBD actually helps counteract the anxiety associated with THC, so is a good place to start for people looking for cannabis strains with low THC.
You will often find cannabis strains with equivalent levels of THC and CBD (1: 1 ratio), but some contain minimal THC, between 1 and 6%. The best known of these strains are Harlequin, ACDC, and CBD Express.
Most medicinal cannabis products have very low or non-existent levels of THC but have lots of CBD. You may wish to choose a strain with low THC as this is likely to be looked on more favorably by authorities, especially if you can prove it is for personal medicinal use.
Related article: How to grow medical marijuana?
5. Investigate stealth grows
Guerrilla growing is the only option for many cannabis growers who want to produce their crop for the year, especially those who do not have a garden and cannot grow indoors. The idea is simple; you just need to find a good place for the plants, in a remote patch of ground, a forest or a mountain, where they will be planted and almost abandoned until the time of harvest. Of course, the plants can receive more or less care; this will depend on the accessibility of the area and the risks the grower wants to take in order not to get caught "in the act".
Even if the success of the culture depends largely on luck, and the plants are "semi-abandoned" during much of their life, it is possible to take a series of measures which, although they will not guarantee successful cultivation, can help keep the plant healthy throughout the grow-op. These include regular watering, keeping the plants free from weeds and topping up with fertilizer from time to time.
6. Less is more
Stick to five plants or fewer. Five plants are generally tolerated in most parts of the world and increase your chances of getting rid of them without prosecution, even if you use equipment such as light and extraction and the like.
7. Security and isolation
You won't be the first grower to be discovered by a fire or flood, especially if you are using a hydroponic setup. But also for your own safety, you must ensure that your equipment is securely connected and replaced on time. If you cannot connect HPS lamps, ask for help from a reliable someone with experience or do not use them at all, but opt for an LED light, they also use less power. Again watch out for leaks, especially if you're using a hydro system.
Anyone who grows in the attic would do well to insulate everything. In winter, the heat in your grow room can ensure that your house is the only one in the street that no longer has snow on the roof. This is very noticeable, and police officers also know this and often drive an extra round through the neighborhood in the snow in search of houses with remarkably little snow. Your plants also like the insulation, and it also prevents detection with heat-image cameras from the police.
8. Do plenty of research before you get started
Spend some time researching the qualities of various strains until you find one that meets your needs. Strains can vary considerably in terms of time to harvest, the strength of the weed, difficulty of cultivation and the effects. Autoflowers are becoming very popular as the latest generation have many benefits for novice growers and experts alike.
9. Discretion is the better part of valor
This point bears repeating. Don't tell your friends or family. You also need to consider all sounds, light and smells coming from your grow space.
We don't want to encourage you to break the law, but it is possible to grow weed in most parts of the world as long as you exercise restraint and plenty of common sense.
Block all windows with light-proof fabric or blackout curtains. The incredibly bright (and unusually colored) grow lights that are needed to grow marijuana can be a dead giveaway that someone is growing weed inside, so you want to block any light from being seen outside.
10. Be smart and buy cannabis seeds from a trusted supplier
Always buy marijuana seeds from a reputable and established supplier such as Weedseedsexpress. If you live somewhere where growing weed is illegal or frowned upon, it is also worth paying a premium for a "stealth shipping" option when you order seeds. Most professional seed banks offer this service. Discreet shipping usually comes with a guarantee and seeds are much less likely to get confiscated during shipping because they're carefully packaged.