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growing marijuana at home

How to Grow Marijuana: The Essential Guide for Beginners

  • Growing cannabis is a labor of love—it’s time-consuming and resource-intensive, but home growing is certainly possible.
  • After reviewing relevant laws, you’ll need to gather materials, establish a growing space, and plant your seeds. After continuously monitoring your growth operation, you can harvest and dry your buds.
  • Unfortunately, home growing isn’t legal in Louisiana, and individuals are unlikely to receive state authorization.
  • While home growing isn’t legal in Louisiana as of June 2024, some patients may need to meet the requirements for the State’s industrial hemp program.

States that allow you to grow marijuana indoor (medical or recreational):

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Virginia NEW
  • Washington

States that allow you to grow marijuana (medical use only):

  • Arizona
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Utah

If you’re using medical cannabis in Louisiana (or elsewhere in the US) to treat a medical condition, you might be wondering how feasible it would be to grow your own cannabis.

The answer is, it depends.

While state laws vary and federal laws establish few opportunities for individual growers, it’s certainly not impossible to grow cannabis at home. However, you’ll need to procure quite a few materials and meticulously tweak your grow setup to maximize your output.

If it’s legal to grow in your state and you’re interested in taking a stab at home horticulture, this is the guide for you. We’re providing an overview of the marijuana growth process to help prospective growers understand what it takes to produce a successful harvest.

Step 1: Review Relevant Laws

First, let’s translate some legalese:

  • Some states allow individuals to grow their own cannabis. Not every state with recreational or medical legalization allows home growing, though.
  • Per the 2018 Farm Bill (a federal law), states can now establish and administer industrial hemp cultivation programs. As long as prospective growers meet their state’s requirements, they can start farming hemp—a type of cannabis with less than 0.3% THC content. This is a tall order for individual growers, but it’s not impossible.
  • At the end of the day, your ability to cultivate depends on your state’s laws. If you plan to grow cannabis, you should read these carefully and remain in compliance.

Step 2: Purchase Materials

While the materials list is long for home marijuana cultivation, you’re in luck—we recently posted a deep dive into everything you need to grow weed at home.

However, we’ll also provide a general supply list here. (You might want to sit down for this one.) To grow cannabis at home indoors, you’ll need:

  • A space to grow or a growing enclosure (e.g., a fabric grow tent)
  • Climate control equipment, including:
    • A space heater
    • A portable A/C unit
    • A humidifier
    • A dehumidifier
    • Fans (both oscillating and inline)
  • An artificial lighting rig that’s:
    • Enclosed
    • Vented
    • Full-spectrum
    • Affixed securely above your plants
  • A watering system (e.g., hand watering tools or an irrigation/misting system)
  • Measuring tools:
    • A pH meter or test strips
    • Measuring cups or beakers
    • Temperature and humidity gauges
  • Plant supplements, including:
    • Fertilizers
    • Nutrients
    • Pesticides
  • Typical plant cultivation materials:
    • Pots
    • Potting soil
    • Stakes
    • Seeds

Needless to say, this list is intimidating at first glance. But what if you grew outside instead?

Since you won’t need an artificial light source, you’ll only need to invest in:

  • A watering system (if you don’t plan to rely on rainfall)
  • Measuring tools
  • Plant supplements
  • Plant cultivation materials

Additionally, you may need to invest in pest prevention if you plan to grow outdoors: chicken wire or garden fencing can keep deer, rabbits, and other animals out of your garden.

Step 3: Set Up Your Growing Space

Your configuration will primarily depend on where you choose to grow—outside or inside. Configuration is a huge topic; if you choose to grow, do your own research and get creative with your configuration.

Outdoor Growing

Outdoor growing is simple:

  • Your pots need to be filled with potting soil and affixed with stakes
  • Plants should be positioned to receive direct sunlight for 12 hours each day, minimum
  • Your irrigation system should be positioned either above your plants or atop the soil
  • Fencing or chicken wire should completely enclose your growing area (if needed)

Pro tip: if you’re planning on hand-watering, place your plants as close to a hose as possible. Carrying water is inefficient and time-consuming—but it’s one of the most important parts of cannabis cultivation.

If you need to keep your cannabis plants out of the view of nosy neighbors or visiting relatives, plant them in pots instead of in-ground; this way, they’re easily portable.

Indoor Growing

Indoor growing is much more configuration-intensive.

A basic setup has multiple parts (some of which are moving):

  • Your grow space should be in an accessible, temperate spot in your home. A windowless closet without any air vents, for instance, is easiest to climate control. A corner in your living room is surrounded by more ambient air (and therefore harder to climate control).
  • Your artificial lights need to be suspended above your plants so that they can get as much direct light as possible. Consider hooking up your lighting to remotes and timers to more easily tinker with settings and timing.
  • Your ventilation needs are somewhat complex. You’ll need inline fans to maintain constant airflow inside your grow space—this will prevent mold growth and pest growth. If you use a fabric grow tent, cut two holes on each side of your tent: place a fan in one hole and vent the other one to create an exhaust. One or more oscillating fans also help keep air moving throughout your grow enclosure, not just at the top of the tent.
  • Depending on your temperature needs, you’ll need to maintain space for at least one climate control device—a (de)humidifier, a space heater, or an A/C unit, for instance.

Then, of course, there are your plant pots. These should feature overflow or drip pans to prevent root rot, and they should have enough space between them to allow room to breathe.

Step 4: Plant Your Cannabis Seeds

With your configuration in place, it’s time to sprout your seeds.

  • Completely submerge your seeds in spring water (not tap water or distilled water) for approximately 12 hours. A regular water glass works well.
  • Remove your wet seeds, place them in a damp paper towel, fold them up into a compact package, and place the folded paper towel somewhere warm and out of direct sunlight. Re-dampen the paper towel as needed.
  • Check the seeds each day to see if they’ve germinated. Once a seed sprouts, plant it approximately 6 inches deep in soil in a small container with drain holes—a plastic cup or recycled plant pot, for instance.
  • Place the cups in direct sunlight and water them once a day. Once they sprout above the soil, keep watering until the stems are strong enough to translate into your large, final growing pots.

Step 5: Monitor and Adjust Climate Controls and Lighting

Once your sprouted plants are safe and sound inside of your grow space (or outside in your garden), it’s time to watch the temperature, humidity, and light levels like a hawk.

For outside growers:

  • Make sure your plants are getting as much sunlight as possible each day. If they’re ever in the shade, move them to a different location if possible.
  • Monitor rainfall to ensure that your plants are getting enough water. Keep your soil damp—if it hasn’t rained in a few days, you’ll likely need to water them.
  • If temperatures rise over 85°F, consider moving your plants to an indoor location (and using a grow light) until the heat wave passes.

For indoor growers:

  • Use your temperature and humidity gauge to monitor conditions inside your grow space. While experts say that cannabis can grow at a wide range of temperatures, consistency is key. Try to stay within a five-degree window.
  • Humidity is another story—while you should strive for upwards of 50% humidity in your plants’ early days, you should gradually decrease the humidity over time. When your plants start budding, you should maintain around 30% humidity in your grow space.
  • Your plants should get as much light as possible in their early days. However, once your plants start budding, you can adjust to a “normal” daylight cycle with 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

Step 6: Harvest and Dry Cannabis

Once your plants are budding, give the buds time to grow. When they’re easily removed from the plant, pick them and give them space to dry.

If you’d like, you can use your grow tent as a drying space—just clear out any humidity-boosting systems and use a dehumidifier instead. This is the prime time for mold growth, so keeping your space dry should be a top priority.

How do you know when your buds are dry enough to use?

While there are as many opinions on this as there are strains of cannabis, growers generally accept that when your stems snap (instead of bend), you can stop the drying process and start using your home-grown harvest.

TeleLeaf: Your Connection to a Medical Cannabis Recommendation

Unfortunately, home growing isn’t legal everywhere—in TeleLeaf’s home state of Louisiana, growers need to be licensed by the state to grow marijuana (with a THC content above 0.3% THC) and hemp (with a THC content below 0.3%). In the current legislative climate, it’s not exactly cost-effective (or even feasible) to apply for growing licenses.

So, what are your options?

In Louisiana, all you need to access medical cannabis dispensaries is a recommendation from a licensed clinician. That’s our specialty at TeleLeaf: we connect prospective cannabis patients with cannabis-informed providers.

Are you a good fit for medical cannabis treatment? There’s only one way to find out. Make an appointment to talk to a medical cannabis clinician now.


Sources:

Cannabiz Media. Which States Allow You to Grow Your Own Recreational or Medical Cannabis?
https://www.cannabiz.media/blog/which-states-allow-you-to-grow-your-own-recreational-or-medical-cannabis

US Department of Agriculture. Hemp and Farm Programs
https://www.farmers.gov/your-business/row-crops/hemp

Royal Queen Seeds. The Complete Guide to Germinating Cannabis Seeds
https://www.royalqueenseeds.com/us/content/45-germinating

Spider Farmer. What Is the Ideal Grow Room Temp & Humidity for Cannabis?
https://www.spider-farmer.com/what-is-the-ideal-temp-and-humidity-for-your-grow-tent/

SunMed Growers. Drying Cannabis: A Master Guide
https://www.sunmedgrowers.com/education-resources/blog/post/drying-cannabis/

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