Marijuana Comes Out of the Haze

Recent projections of the retail cost of marijuana are encouraging for aspiring cannabis gardeners.

The short story: the cumulative costs of state and local taxes and fees will make recreational marijuana quite expensive: a single roll-your-own marijuana joint could cost $10.

Observers expect that these costs could burden legal providers of marijuana and encourage their black market competitors.

As that drama plays out, these costs also could greatly increase the cost-effectiveness of personal cultivation of cannabis.

Cannabis Leaf

Cannabis Leaf

This image is from Robert Bergman’s online publication: “Growing Marijuana in California” (http://www.ilovegrowingmarijuana.com/growing-marijuana-california/

Background

A year ago, California voters enacted Proposition 64, the Control Regulation and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (the “AUMA”). Along with its other purposes, this proposition authorized personal cultivation of nonmedical (i.e., recreational) cannabis by persons 21 years of age or older, subject to locally adopted regulations.

The County of Santa Cruz has adopted such regulations; they took effect on May 31, 2017. Reportedly, Santa Cruz County was California’s first county to take this action. The County of Monterey anticipates adopting regulations for adult use/recreational cannabis businesses “in the near future” (probably by January 1, 2018).

Personal Cultivation

When California voters approved the AUMA, many people considered trying this previously forbidden recreation. For the record, this column neither recommends nor discourages recreational use of marijuana. That is a personal decision.

A good number of people were—and continue to be—decidedly not interested in marijuana. Still, some other people are interested in growing up to six marijuana plants, which is the maximum number allowed for personal grows. Avid gardeners might have a particular interest in cultivating this unfamiliar new plant, whether or not they wish to explore its psychoactive properties.

Growing your own cannabis and making your own marijuana cigarettes might be compared to growing your own grapes and making your own wine. In both examples, the hobbyist compares the enjoyment of the hobby’s time and cost with the time and cost of simply buying the commercial product.

The projected retail cost of marijuana adds significantly to the appeal of personal cultivation. This column is for gardeners who are interested in exploring that hobby.

When the AUMA was approved, we outlined the stages of cannabis cultivation: sprouting, vegetative growth, flowering, harvesting, and drying & curing. We also provided links to free online resources that offer more detailed information. To review that column, go to http://ongardening.com/?p=2641.

Cannabis information sources are evolving rapidly, so for up-to-date rates, growing advice, etc., search the Internet for “cannabis seeds” and “cannabis cultivation.”

Local Regulations

Also important: adherence to state and local regulations. Santa Cruz County residents should read the local regulations. For easy access, here is a link to “Santa Cruz County Code Chapter 7.134.” Monterey County residents should watch and wait for the adoption of their own county’s regulations.

All parts of these regulations are important, but prospective cannabis growers will need a way to meet the requirement to conduct all stages of cultivation on their own residence grounds inside a locked and secured structure such as a shed or greenhouse, and not visible from a public place. Cannabis can, but may not be, grown outdoors.

Next Steps

The cost of growing cannabis begins with the seeds, which are available from mail-order sources for $10 to $15 per seed, depending on the strain. Choosing which seed to buy and plant involves research or an arbitrary decision. Planting should be scheduled for early spring, so there is time to order seeds, select or create a legal structure for cultivation, and gain at least basic familiarity with the process. Because this plant has the common name “weed,” growing it will not be difficult for capable gardeners. However, as with all plants, very good cultivation produces very good results, so growing cannabis well could challenge even experienced gardeners.

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