Countless Americans have been growing their own weed at home – regardless of the law – for decades. Whether they do it in the basement, in the attic, or in the yard, major advancements have been made over that time span with regard to how much we understand about the plant itself, the laws governing our rights to do so, as well as the technology that has come along to optimize the process.
If you happen to mask up and go out into public these days, you may have noticed that most stores that once featured robust gardening sections with seed packets for whatever veggies you wanted to grow now showcase shelves as empty as the toilet paper aisle as more and more people are looking at the land beneath their feet as a source of nutrition instead of relying on a broken supply chain.
In most states with regulated cannabis markets, those markets have been deemed “essential” and have been allowed to stay open to serve their customers while many other businesses have been forced to shut their doors. But for how long? We have already seen Santa Clara County in California rescind those rights and resort to delivery and/or medical marijuana only.
If you had told teenage me that for the entire month of 4/20/2020 I’d get to stay home and have food and weed delivered to me while I streamed movies to my cell phone, I would’ve asked WTF you were smoking, but here we are, eh? But as the sun comes out to signal the start of spring here in SoCal, it sort of sucks being stuck at home.
As farmers across the Emerald Triangle prepare their seedlings and their soils for the season, we thought we’d take a 2-part look at who is allowed to grow their own weed these days, and what new tech is on the market to make it easier and more affordable than ever before.
CURRENT CANNABIS CULTIVATION LAWS
Here is a quick state by state breakdown of cultivation laws in your neck of the woods.
Very low scale cultivation in Alabama is punished as either simple possession or as possession with intent to distribute, depending on the amount of marijuana being produced and other factors that may lead to the conclusion that the marijuana was being grown for reasons other than strict personal use. Even if you fall into that slim window, you are still facing a misdemeanor charge, up to a year in jail, and up to a $6,000 fine. BUT, if you are caught growing more than 2.2lbs, which… who isn’t? then you’re staring at a felony trafficking charge and a three-year mandatory minimum sentence along with up to a $25,000 fine.
Alaska has recreational cannabis laws in place that include the right for adults to grow up to six cannabis plants with no more than three of them mature/flowering. This is supposed to be for personal use only, not for commercial sale. If grown outdoors, plants must be out of plain view from the public and reasonable security measures must be in place to protect the garden. NORML tosses in this little tidbit, however: Cultivation of less than 25 plants of marijuana for personal use in a private residence is protected under the right to privacy of the Alaska constitution. Cultivation of 25 plants or more is a class C felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $50,000. BamBam and the rest of the Bush People may be on to something up there!
Arizona is flirting with recreational cannabis legalization in 2020 but their long-running medical marijuana program leaves most homegrowers with no legal options. In order to be able to grow your own, you must be a registered MMJ patient in the state, and you must live at least 25 miles away from the nearest dispensary. You will be allowed up to 12 plants and all those plants must be grown out of public view in an “enclosed and lockable” space. This has been defined as “closet, room, greenhouse, or other enclosed area equipped with locks or security devices that permit access only by a cardholder”. All unlicensed cannabis cultivation in Arizona is subject to a felony charge that can carry anywhere from 1 to 12.5 years in the clink and up to a $150,000 fine regardless of weight.
Long after Bill Clinton allegedly wasn’t inhaling pot in Arkansas, the state has reluctantly implemented some limited medical marijuana laws, but the state still has a long way to go. When it comes to growing, there are no specific laws covering it. Instead, authorities wrap cultivation into possession laws, meaning that anything under 4oz is a misdemeanor IF it’s your first offense. If it’s your second (or more) offense, and/or if you are growing more than 4 ounces (lol), then you’re looking at a potential felony including years of jail time. Also, possession of growing equipment (lights, tables, timers, hydro, etc) carries a potential felony charge with up to six years in lockup.
Under Prop 64, any adult 21 or older in Cali has the right to grow up to six total cannabis plants. All six must be out of public view and behind a locked barrier. After six, you’re really only looking at a slap on the wrist (misdemeanor charge and up to $500 fine per infraction) until you get to larger scales. As with all states, local jurisdictions in California vary as far as how they will allow you to grow your six plants, and many make it so restrictive that it makes no sense to do so. Many municipalities in Cali, for example, expressly prohibit outdoor cultivation, even for licensed commercial growers.
Similar to Cali, Colorado residents ages 21 and up can grow up to 6 plants without penalty (only three can be mature/flowering). You can even gift, or “transfer”, up to an ounce at a time to a friend or acquaintance. Can’t do that in Cali! Not legally, at least. After six plants, however, you could be looking at a felony charge that could put you behind bars for six months to six years. Caregivers can be under the age of 21 (18+) and can grow up to six plants per patient, with a total of five patients at a time.
Connecticut offers a perfect example of how decriminalization of cannabis always falls short by looking out for the Demand side of the curve while leaving out the Supply side. So you’re allowed to have up to a half-ounce of weed on you with no fear of arrest or tarnishing of your record. It’s either a warning, a $150 fine or a $500 fine if you keep getting caught with it. But growing even the smallest amount can be a life-changing experience, and not in a good way. Cultivation is treated just like distribution in the eyes of the law here and getting caught growing any amount of weed could lead to a felony charge and up to a seven-year sentence. If they catch you growing more than a kilo (2.2lbs…not that much, a couple of plants), you’ll be looking at a mandatory minimum 5-20 years IF it’s your first offense. Subsequent offenses in this realm carry 10-25 year mandatory minimums and six-figure fines. Anything associated with an illegal grow can be seized by the state (your car, your house, etc). The state’s medical marijuana program does not allow patients to grow their own.
Delaware also has a medical marijuana program in place, but after four years they still had not opened any MMJ dispensaries and they still do not allow patients to grow their own cannabis at home. The state offers no specific laws regarding cultivation so it is treated most often as distribution or trafficking which comes with some stiff penalties here. Getting busted with under 1500 grams can come with a felony charge and up to eight years behind bars. 1500-4000g nearly doubles your potential term, up to 15 years, and over 4000 grams carries a mandatory minimum 2-25 year sentence. Any cannabis related substances, raw materials, products, equipment, property, vehicles, research products, paraphernalia, money or other assets can be seized by the state.
The fight for cannabis rights in the nation’s capital has been a hard one but today any adult 21 and up can grow up to six total plants (three mature/flowering) at their own primary residence. They can also gift their excess weed to friends or those in need and even perform “non-profit” transactions of “small amounts”. Just do not sell any to a minor, of course, and don’t get caught running your non-profit (lol) within 1000ft of schools, colleges, public playgrounds, swimming pools (seriously), youth centers, libraries, or public housing.
Florida law strictly prohibits home growing cannabis, even for the state’s medical marijuana patients. There are no specific laws for cultivation, it is treated as illicit possession and the punishment is unforgiving. If they catch you growing, you will face felony charges and those charges range from a third-degree felony for 25 plants or less and a second-degree felony if found with more than 25 plants. Whatever the count, you’re almost certainly going to jail due to mandatory minimum sentencing in the state. According to NORML: “Even peaceful marijuana smokers sentenced to “life MMS” must serve a life sentence with no chance of parole.”
More mandatory minimums for anybody caught growing at home in Georgia. Anything under 10 pounds and you’ve got at least one felony and a minimum of one year and up to ten. It gets worse from there and it is very rare but entirely possible to catch a 40-year sentence off a single felony weed charge. It’s not much better for those who get caught for simple possession – anything over one ounce is a felony and another mandatory minimum of 1-10 years.
Medical marijuana patients in Hawaii are allowed to grow a “reasonable” amount of personal use cannabis, not to exceed ten plants. The catch is, they are technically not supposed to ever have more than 4 ounces of dried, smokable flower on deck. Not sure how that works. Overall, relatively low-level cultivation in Hawaii is a pretty low priority for law enforcement, even when it comes to non-MMJ patients. The law is only defined once you get caught illegally growing 25 or more plants, at which point you could be hit with a felony and up to five years behind bars. Anything under that, however, and the law gets grey. As usual, we tend to look at possession or distribution laws as guidance for what may happen but these sort of busts are just rare unless there is other substantial criminal activity related to the grow.
Getting popped growing any amount of weed in Idaho carries a mandatory felony charge and minimum of 1-5 years in prison. The maximum number of years for trafficking cannabis is 15 years total. If you get caught again for the same offense, your sentence can be doubled the standard term. My old neighbor HATED my weed smoke… he moved to Idaho hahahah.
As the 11th state in the nation to legalize the recreational use and possession of cannabis for adults, Illinois also allows medical patients to grow up to five plants each at home. If you have five plants or less but are not a registered patient, there is no criminal charge or penalty, just a $200 fine. More than five, without a commercial license, is going to land you a felony charge and a good chance at jail time.
Cultivation is treated just like sales in Indiana and the penalties are harsh. Basically, growing anything over 30 grams is going to saddle you with a felony and anywhere from six months to six years, per charge. Not a cannabis-friendly state, at all.
Iowa essentially mirrors federal law when it comes to cannabis – felony charges and up to five years of lockup for anything up to 50 kilograms. Apparently, however, you can anonymously purchase a tax stamp for $750 for each cannabis plant you aren’t technically allowed to have. The state’s medical marijuana program does not even allow for home growing. Hell, it hardly allows for THC!
Kansas is one of the last states that bans all forms of cannabis but, curiously, they only spell out penalty of law for those caught growing more than four plants. After four plants, it is a felony and anywhere from 3-17 years per charge. Under four? Who knows… The state has sort of decriminalized cannabis possession, threatening a misdemeanor charge and up to a year in jail for “any amount” of cannabis. If they determine that your “any amount” looks like intent to distribute, life gets tough and you can catch a year of probation or up to around four years behind bars.
There are no allowances for home growing cannabis in Kentucky. Four plants or less will cop you a misdemeanor and up to a year in the clink for your first offense. The same charge and plant count ( <5 ) becomes a felony if it’s your second (or more) time getting busted for it. Five plants or more will get you a felony charge and anywhere from 1 – 5 years depending on your prior record.
Cannabis remains a Schedule I Hallucinogenic Substance in Louisiana, so as you can imagine, they don’t take too kindly to you growing your own in the Bayou. Getting caught for the first time growing ANY amount of pot carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 – 30 years!! If it’s a subsequent offense, the mandatory min doubled to 10 – 60 years… Same laws/penalties for selling it. Horrible.
In Maine, adults can possess up to 2.5 ounces of weed before facing scrutiny from the law. Since recreational cannabis is legal in the state, adults there can grow up to 12 immature and 3 mature pot plants each. Medical marijuana patients can have up to six mature/flowering plants. You can even grow outdoors on a friend’s property with written permission. Take advantage!
Maryland does not have specific laws outlining cultivation, instead, it is treated as possession. Also, law enforcement is going to treat every part of the plant – root ball and all – as smokable marijuana when weighing your charges (literally and figuratively). Since any possession over 10 grams but less than 50 pounds is a misdemeanor with a max sentence of a year behind bars, there is a lot of wiggle room in how the state treats home growers. If they determine you have Intent to Deliver, which they very well might if you have pounds of weed from a recent harvest, then you will face felony charges and up to five years behind bars.
With adult-use recreational cannabis laws in place, any adult over the age of 21 in the state can grow up to twelve plants, with up to six mature plants, with a household cap of 12 total plants. The cannabis must be grown out of public view or it could be seized by authorities (or the public). You can keep your entire harvest from those six plants, but you cannot sell any of the surplus legally. You can, however, gift up to an ounce of it away.
Another state with recreational cannabis laws on the books, Michigan law allows adults 21 and up to grow up to 12 plants at home for their personal use. As is standard, plants must be enclosed or out of public view. Caregivers with no felonies on their own record can grow for up to five clients. As with most states, restrictions apply, as students at the University of Michigan found out the hard way. Local ordinances and bans could apply as well. The state was allowing caregivers to enter their excess harvest into the regulated supply chain to be sold at dispensaries but recently backtracked and cut of the program indefinitely. Even getting busted with 12-24 plants carries no criminal charge, just the threat of a $500 penalty.
Minnesota has decriminalized the possession of anything under 42.5 grams of cannabis. Unfortunately, they use that same number to determine when you’ll face criminal charges as a home grower. Anything above 42.5 grams is a felony that can carry up to a 5 – 30 year sentence.
The laws in Mississippi when it comes to homegrown cannabis read a lot like those in Minnesota. They treat it like possession but anything over 30 grams (roughly an ounce of flower) can be slapped with a felony charge and up to three years in prison. If the aggregate weight of your entire plants (not just the buds) exceeds 250 grams, you’ll be facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 – 50 years!
Yet another state where you just do not want to get caught growing your own weed. Anything under 35 grams is a felony with up to a four-year prison term. Anything over 35 grams, which is what you’ll have if you are growing, can land you anywhere from 3 – 15 years behind bars.
Get caught growing anything under one pound OR 30 plants in Montana and you’re looking at a felony charge and up to ten years in prison. Once you exceed one pound or 30 plants, Montana becomes the first state on this list to offer a potential LIFE sentence on a single charge (2 – Life). Oh, and they will definitely seize everything of value that you own.
Another ass-backwards mid-America state when it comes to cannabis reform, especially home cultivation. If you’re caught growing ANY amount, you’re looking at a felony and a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 – 25 years. If you’re doing it within a 1000 feet of a school, church, or other designated area, all penalties double, and if you get caught doing it more than once, a Life sentence enters the equation.
Question 2 allows adults 21 and up to grow up to 12 total plants – 6 mature/flowering – IF they live 25 miles or more from the nearest storefront cannabis dispensary. Twelve total plants per household, regardless of the number of 21+ year old occupants. You do not have to own your property to grow on it, but you’ll need express permission from the owner/landlord. The same provisions apply to medical marijuana patients, but they can also supposedly be permitted to grow their own if their local dispensary is perpetually out of their favorite strain… the language is muddy there.
Another state that will treat home cultivation as “Possession with Intent” and will weigh your entire plant – not just the nugs – to determine your fate. Getting caught growing any amount comes with the threat of a felony charge and anywhere from 3 – 20 years behind bars on your first offense. Your grow lights, tents, tables, etc. can be classified as drug paraphernalia and stack additional charges.
New Jersey does have a deep-rooted medical marijuana program in place but the state cannot seem to solve the recreational riddle and the laws do not allow anybody to grow their own weed at home. Getting caught growing any amount between 1oz and 5lbs carries a mandatory minimum 3 – 5 year sentence. Five to twenty-five pounds will get you a mandatory 5 – 10 years. It only goes up from there.
Marijuana is a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance under New Mexico’s Controlled Substances Act so you can safely assume they’re going to lock you up for growing it unless you are a registered MMJ patient in the state. The first time you get caught growing ANY amount illegally, you face a felony charge and a 9-year sentence. Your second offense will potentially up that ceiling to 18 years. MMJ patients in the state can grow up to 16 total plants, with 4 mature/flowering at a time.
New York does have medical marijuana laws on the books but does not allow anyone to grow their own weed at home for any reason. In fact, courts often consider the same cultivation charge to also be a possession charge, drastically compounding sentencing for those caught growing their own. Anything over 8oz is a potential felony that could carry a four-year prison term.
With a lack of a legit medical marijuana program in North Carolina, it should come as no surprise that home cultivation is met with unforgiving penalties from law enforcement. If you are caught growing anything under 10 pounds of weed, you’re facing a felony charge and a 3 – 8 month sentence. Anything over 10 pounds, though, and you’re looking at a mandatory minimum sentence of anywhere from 2 – 18 years with thousands of dollars in fines.
Like New Hampshire, the pigs in North Dakota will weigh your entire plant to mete out justice and there is no amount of cannabis that you can grow without facing criminal charges. If/when they determine that your successful harvest means that you have Intent to Sell, you’re looking at felony charges and 3 – 10 years. The state was a watered-down medical marijuana program that also does not allow any home cultivation.
Ohio treats cannabis cultivation like cannabis possession and anything over 200 grams (roughly half a pound) can carry a felony charge and 18+ months in prison. The state has a medical marijuana program, but it makes no allowance for home grows. To add insult to injury, any cannabis-related infraction can lead to a drivers’ license suspension of 6 months to 5 years!
Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program is making waves nationwide but for most residents, growing your own weed at home is still a risky proposition. The state treats the illegal Sale of cannabis with no mercy, with felonies and potential life sentences threatening anyone who grows any amount. Registered MMJ patients in the state can grow up to 12 plants of their own, with six of them being mature/flowering at a time.
Residents in Oregon enjoy the right to home grow. Since the state has enacted recreational legalization for all adults 21 and up, those same adults have the right to grow up to 4 total plants. Four to eight plants, however, could get you a misdemeanor charge and a few months in the pokey. Medical marijuana patients in Oregon can have up to six mature plants and 12 “seedlings” at a time.
The state is making great strides in its cannabis reform, but home cultivation is still frowned upon by the powers that be, even for MMJ patients. Growing ANY amount is still a felony that is punishable by 2.5 – 5 years in prison and up to $15k in fines.
Medical marijuana patients in Rhode Island are permitted to grow up to 12 plants as well as 12 “seedlings”. All of the plants must be grown in the same area/home and all harvested buds must be stored indoors. Everyone else is out of luck. Any illicit grows under one kilogram still face felony charges and up to 30 years in prison. Once you go over a kilo, you’re looking at mandatory minimum sentencing of anywhere from 10 years to life.
South Carolina also thinks that CBD-only products somehow equal “medical marijuana”. They are wrong and their laws are trash when it comes to home cultivation of cannabis. Anyone caught growing anything under 100 pot plants could be hit with felony charges and up to 5 years in prison. 100 – 1000 plants boosts that penalty to a potential 25-year bid behind bars.
Pigs in South Dakota are going to uproot your plants and weigh them, root ball and all, to determine how much trouble you get into. They have no specific cultivation laws or penalties, instead referring those cases to either Possession laws, or more often Intent to Distribute laws which all carry felony charges once you exceed ½ ounce. Even for people busted with simple low-level possession of a half-ounce or less of weed face a MANDATORY MINIMUM sentence of 15 days in custody. Nasty.
The Volunteer State volunteers more felonies for home cultivation. Anything under 10 plants is a felony and 1 – 6 years in prison. First-time felony convictions will receive a mandatory minimum fine of at least $2,000. Second-time felony convictions will receive a mandatory minimum fine of at least $3,000. Any repeat felony conviction after the second will receive a mandatory minimum fine of at least $5,000. The state has no legit MMJ program, instead offering CBD-only options to those in need.
Cannabis cultivation in Texas is treated like cannabis Possession in Texas, which is to say, not very kindly. If you are caught growing anything over 4 ounces – and you will be, since they will weigh the entire plants – you’re facing felony charges and mandatory minimum sentencing up to 99 years. They’re going to suspend your driver’s license, too. They say that birds fly upside down over Texas cuz the cannabis laws aren’t worth shittin’ on.
Utah treats cannabis Cultivation as cannabis Possession with felony charges cropping up once you’re busted with a pound or more. Of course, if the authorities determine that you had the intent to sell any of that weed you’re growing, felony charges can be assessed on amounts well under a pound and can lead to five years in prison in the Beehive State. You may remember that when Utah voters passed the initiative to create their medical marijuana market, lawmakers REWROTE IT AFTER THE FACT to omit key provisions, including the right to grow your own cannabis at home. Activist groups are suing to reenact the home cultivation allowance but for now, it is against the law for all Utahns.
As of July 1st, 2018, adults 21 and up in Vermont can grow up to two mature cannabis plants and maintain four others at a time without criminal penalty. Three to ten mature/flowering plants, however, still carry the risk of a felony charge and up to three years of imprisonment. Medical marijuana patients in the state are also only allowed two mature plants but can have seven more growing in the pre-flower stage.
Curiously, there is no mention of cultivation in Virginia law, but if your grow is determined to be excessive and the authorities say that you have intent to sell, anything over an ounce comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year to life. Furthermore, the state has a separate law for “maintaining a fortified drug house” which many grow ops could classify as – mandatory minimum sentence of 1 – 10 years for that. They will also seize anything of value from you, regardless of whether criminal charges are ever brought. Dirty!!
Along with Colorado, Washington blazed the trail for recreational adult use cannabis laws here in America but the state still does not allow those adults to grow their own cannabis at home. Growing any amount outside of the state’s medical marijuana program is a felony with a potential 5-year prison term. Those enrolled in the state’s MMJ program may grow up to 4 plants. If they have entered their name in the state’s voluntary database, they can grow up to 6 plants. And if they have a note from a physician to support their claim, they can grow up to 15 plants.
West Virginia treats Cultivation of cannabis like Possession of cannabis, or Possession with Intent to Sell, and they use the aggregate weight of your entire crop (not just the buds) to determine that weight. If they truly think you are just growing it for yourself, you could get away with a misdemeanor and a max of 180 days in jail. If, however, they think you plan to sell any of your harvest, you’re now looking at a felony and a mandatory minimum 5-year sentence. This includes the state’s medical marijuana patients.
No home grows in Wisconsin. Getting popped growing ANY amount of cannabis comes with the threat of a felony charge in the state with sentencing ranging from 3.5 to 15 years along with 5-figure fines. The state has no real MMJ program, instead offering CBD-only options.
Interestingly, Wyoming makes cannabis cultivation merely a misdemeanor no matter how many plants you have. The state has also decriminalized the possession of anything under three ounces of weed. The state is strict on sales. Probably the most robust example of weed decriminalization-only in the nation.
Obviously, these laws are subject to change and, obviously, Beard Bros. Pharms is NOT a legal adviser. Additionally, as is the case here in California, state law can often conflict with local laws, ordinances, or bans so be sure to brush up on the specific regulations for your particular municipality. Information contained in this website is intended as general educational information only. The information contained on this website is not legal advice. It should not be construed as legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.
But, now that you have a better idea of the law of the land, maybe you’ll be inspired to get your hands dirty with a home grow of your own.
Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of this article where we will take a deep dive into the new age technology that is making it easier than ever before to bust out a closet full of fire without breaking the bank (or pissing off the neighbors)!