As medical marijuana popularity increases, so do the number of people who want to grow their own medicine at home. After all, more and more people are turning to medical marijuana for their ailments. Chronic pain, general stress, and digestive disorders are all among the top reasons people use the plant. So it only makes sense they would want it as close to home as possible.
But, is it even legal to grow marijuana at home? How can someone go about doing this? Is the dispensary really necessary to get your medicine?
Is Medical Marijuana Cultivation Legal?
First, let’s look at the legal side of things. Is growing your own medical marijuana at home legal? The short answer is it depends. In states with legalized medical marijuana, there are different laws regarding medical marijuana home cultivation.
Each state sets its own legal limits on the number of plants permitted in one’s own residence. Some states set a simple limit that applies regardless of plant growth stages, while others limit the number of plants you can grow at various stages in the growth cycle. For example, patients in Missouri are permitted to grow up to six plants in the seedling stage of life, six plants in the vegetative stage of life, and six flowering plants, bringing their total to 18 plants at any one time. There are also often limits on the total number of plants permitted within a single household.
If someone is a primary caregiver for another patient, meaning they are in charge of growing the medicine for another patient, the caregiver can grow up to six additional plants in each stage of life for their patient.
Other state-level restrictions include the requirement of keeping plants in a locked, enclosed space, and the need to keep plants out of sight of public view.
The Benefits of Growing Marijuana at Home
Many people are turning to home cultivation because of the associated benefits. Over time, growing your own medical marijuana works out significantly cheaper than buying from a dispensary. Sure, the initial investment of the supplies you need is potentially expensive, but if you plan on using marijuana as your medicine for years to come, the cost quickly begins to justify itself. There is also the added bonus of being able to control your medicine and the strains you grow. By being in control from seed to harvest, you know exactly how the plant spent its life and the various products (such as fertilizer) used on the plant. You have total control of each variable associated with cultivating your own medicine.
Is it Hard to Grow Your Own Marijuana?
Growing your own marijuana at home is not inherently difficult. Cannabis plants require a certain amount of light each day, so using a lighting system with timers is essential for ensuring consistency throughout the growth cycles. Choosing your growing media is an important decision that will affect the process. Many say that soil is a good choice for novice growers, rather than using a hydroponic system, because the soil contains nutrients that can help to buffer any mistakes made.
How to Grow Marijuana at Home [Step-By-Step Instructions]
There are three main phases of life for the cannabis plant. This step-by-step guide will show you how to care for your plants in each phase of life. Some people choose to grow auto-flowering plants, meaning they will automatically switch from the vegetative stage to the flowering stage after a predefined amount of time. A more popular method is to use photoperiod seeds, which require a change in light conditions in order for them to flower.
- The first step is soaking your seeds. Cannabis seeds have a hard outer shell to protect them from natural elements, so soaking your seed in a 1:1 hydrogen peroxide and water ratio will soften the shell to allow for the plant’s life to begin. Allow your seed to soak in the solution for 24 hours in some sort of container — shot glasses are commonly used for this task.
- After the shell is softened, germination needs to take place. There are a few ways to germinate a seed but one of the most common ways is using the paper towel method. After your seed has soaked, pour the hydrogen peroxide and water solution, along with the seed, onto a paper towel. Gently fold the paper towel around the seed and place it into a sandwich bag. Allow the seed to sit for 24-48 hours. During this time, you should see a taproot pop out of the seed. This is a successful germinated seed.
- Once germination has taken place, it is time to put the seed in your medium of choice. Carefully remove the seed from the bag and place it in the medium with the taproot facing downward. If using soil, create a small crater in the soil, place the seed in it, and lightly place soil on top of it. After another 24 to 48 hours, you should find the cotyledons (seed leaves or the first showing leaves) to be visible above the medium. Once this happens, the seedling stage has begun. It is important to adequately water your plants. However, overwatering can become a problem. Test your soil by placing your finger about an inch deep and see if it is moist. If it is, your plant is well hydrated. If it is dry, it is best to water. Water the soil as opposed to the plants to prevent fungal diseases.
- Now it is time to care for your plants as seedlings. This phase will last 2-3 weeks. During this time, you should keep your seedlings on a light cycle of 18-24 hours a day, depending on your personal preference. The seedling should be kept at about 70% humidity. The temperature should remain between 68 degrees and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping your seedlings in small containers with lightly fertilized medium is suggested to promote healthy root growth.
- After this 2-3 week seedling phase is over, the plant moves to the vegetative phase of life. During this time, you will want to keep the lights on the plants for 18 -24 hours per day. The relative humidity should be kept at 50% during this period. You should ensure you have nitrogen-rich soil during this time.
- The next stage is the flowering stage, during which the light cycle should be 12 hours on, 12 hours off. In nature, the bloom or flower phase for plants occurs in autumn as the light naturally diminishes to 12 hours. The relative humidity should be kept between 40-50%. Cannabis plants will show their sex in the early phases of flower. Depending on the particular strain, the flowering stage generally lasts between 8-10 weeks. During this stage, you will see buds forming and swelling on your plant.
- The final stage is harvest. You will know that the plants are ready by looking at the trichomes under a microscope. When the trichomes are 70% milky and 30% amber, the buds have the perfect blend of THCa and CBDa and should be harvested. A higher propertion of milky trichomes will result in a more THC-heavy make-up, while more amber-colored trichomes will produce more CBD.
- When the plants are ready, cut them at the base and hang them upside down to dry. It’s helpful to have a fan running in the same room/tent as the drying plants to keep the air moving, but it’s important not to aim it directly at the plants. It’s recommended that plants should be dried for at least two weeks before being consumed. It’s essential not to rush this step, since doing so will negatively affect the taste of your cannabis.
Those are the basic steps for growing medical marijuana. Things might not go perfectly the first time, but with each grow your technique will become increasingly refined and you’ll be capable of growing higher-yielding plants of potent marijuana.