“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
― Albert Einstein
Thinking About Growing Your Own Cannabis?
There may be no better time.
The recent novel coronavirus outbreak has reshaped our society, and while we adapt in a variety of ways to all aspects of our daily lives, we need to plan now for even more changes ahead. Just as the health crisis will touch us all in some way, resiliency to the challenges facing the cannabis community starts with looking at the opportunities ahead during the changing times while caring for ourselves and each other.
Supporting licensed or permitted growers and their retail outlets are always important to the emerging cannabis industry and local businesses, especially now during these economically stressed markets. That said, growing your own can offer you many benefits including productive activity, while coexisting with legal enterprises, particularly if you prefer consuming marijuana by combustion of the raw flower. Beside saving some coin, it can also provide backup goods along with some peace of mind if supplies tighten, or shortages occur.
As the legality of cannabis cultivation depends on where you live, if you are considering a home grow, first investigate what restrictions might apply to your address. While many are now planting home gardens to grow their own fruits and vegetables, cannabis consumers are also increasingly growing their own weed for some very good reasons.
To Save Money
Cannabis is a commodity much like other agricultural products. It is from a living plant, it has a finite shelf life and is a subject to supply and demand. In an unstable market, prices and availability can get crazy, evident by many U.S. cannabis anomalies since the COVID-19 virus began to spread.
Beside a likely increase in product cost in a volatile market, with taxes and if delivery is the only option, the total price for consumable cannabis goods can become quite expensive, especially during a period of limited personal income. In low inventory situations, the price if you can find what you want is typically higher, further eroding the affordability of cannabis for many. Worse, what product that is available may have a lesser quality.
To determine just how much you might save by growing your own, consider the cost of supplies like a container, soil, seed, or clone, along with any nutrients you might use as the base cost per plant. Consider pest controls, irrigation equipment and tool expenses also. If you grow indoors, include the cost of climate control and lighting, along with utility expenses.
For a general cost estimate, use a unit to compare what is costs to buy marijuana and what it costs to grow it yourself. For expenses beyond a single potted plant; for example, add them up and divide by the total number of plants you plan to grow and then add that amount to the cost of each plant. If a plant produces an ounce of finished flower in theory (likely it will be more), you can see that the base cost per plant is far less than the cost of an ounce of flower. There will likely be other expenses, but the cost of labor if you grow the plants yourself, distribution costs, testing fees, and any packaging expense for retail is all gone from the bottom-line cost of your weed.
To Insure Access
Not all cannabis businesses receive an equal treatment across the country. Massachusetts, for example does not allow adult-use dispensaries to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic despite a lawsuit to protect operators. Without consistent policies, access to cannabis is an uncertainty as regulators deal with definitions of essential businesses; and the rules can change.
Shelter-in-place orders and business restrictions effect not only commercial cannabis operations, but their workers as well. While supplies may be sufficient because of decreased sales, cultivation operations, and distributions chains can have unexpected interruptions during a health crisis as seen in the news. For many working in commercial cultivation, home growing may exist as a common practice. But, as some regions do not consider cannabis an “essential business” exempt from shelter-in-place orders, growing your own cannabis will gain in popularity for increased numbers within the cannabis industry workforce, just as all consumers adapt to the changing times.
Growing your own cannabis does not produce flowers immediately; however. Each type, and strain has different times for the vegetative and bloom phases, but for planning purposes, allow anywhere between 72 days to 16 weeks from a seedling or clone to harvest. This is a good average time span for general cultivation planning, given that some varieties will be longer than others in maturation. Add a few weeks for dry and cure and the anticipated time required to grown your own cannabis will help in determining when to plant and when you will have your own crop finished for trimming, storage, and use. Indoor growers can grow any time of the year but outside growers must work with the seasons, making this planning an important step.
For specific time frames, consider auto-flowering hybrids that begin the bloom phase according to the age of the plant, instead of by changes in light.
To Improve Selection
Most cannabis consumers have strain preferences or choose a product based on characteristics of taste or effect. Others prefer certain terpene profiles for medical or recreational use, while some might scrutinize flower structure or combustible quality. During restrictions on shopping or accessibility, not only does price increase, but selection often goes down. Add panic buying to the mix and the chances of finding your perfect herb diminish.
Supply and demand issues effect market segments and product types differently. Edible products, for example will tend to be more readily available during a volatile inventory period than raw flowers. This is largely because of the manufacturing process and the ability to stock reserves and move them efficiently. Growing your own cannabis plants affords the opportunity of exploring the hundreds of strains available in seed or clones for what you want to grow to consume yourself, largely as flowers, or with additional work and processed for extraction, oil, etc.
To Control Content
While testing standards for pesticides or other contaminants vary according to the location, growing your own cannabis plants gives you complete control of what nutrients you apply and what pest control methods you use. The result is better for your finished crop and better for the environment if you utilize sustainable methods.
The cultivation process includes how well cannabis crops are dried, cured and stored. Growing your own crop of flowers assures timely harvesting, quality controls for trimming and drying is by you, and you know the freshness of the finished goods.
It is Not Advanced Science
Like any craft, the more knowledge, and experience you have in horticulture, the better you will do at growing cannabis. All master-growers will tell you the best way to learn how to grow a great crop is to start now.
Most would agree that if you can grow good tomatoes, you can grow cannabis. Growing cannabis is not difficult, and it can be as complex as you make it. With equipment and supplies geared to cannabis readily available for indoor or outdoor cultivation, the sky is the limit for setup possibilities, even for beginners.
It is worth noting that the best quality (however measured) cannabis flowers require some advanced techniques and care beyond sticking a plant in the ground and watering it. Fortunately, there is a ton of advice for any interested grower who wants a top-shelf crop. From novice to advanced grower, help is available through books, the internet, grower organizations and local cooperatives.
Good for the Soul
As most growers of any crop will tell you, cultivating plants is therapeutic. To put it simply, working with nature using sustainable methods offers rewards beyond the cannabis you will grow and share. At the end of the day, your participation in the cultivation process will help make your bud all the sweeter, maybe the best reason for growing your own.