Growing Marijuana in California Legally: New Laws & Home Cultivation

Santa Monica Pier California Weed
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The home of the Golden Gate Bridge, Disneyland, the Lakers, Hollyweed, and America’s largest state population chose to embrace liberties fought for around the time of the American Civil War, particularly: federalism. The collective California voting populace in majority chose cannabis to be regulated less like a harmful narcotic and more like something between tobacco and alcohol. Not that California isn’t known for being marijuana-friendly, it’s just: with these new laws come new responsibilities.

Growing marijuana legally in California is an absolute reality under Prop. 64; however, the legislative piece that permits marijuana cultivation, at over 60 pages in length, is cumbersome to the point of exhaustion. Fear not, curious cultivator, for I went ahead and broke it down. Here’s what you should know (though, if you do want to read it, click here):

Home Cultivation Under Prop. 64

Under California law, adults age 21 and older are now eligible to plant limited amounts of cannabis at home. Those are the first two pieces of information conveyed by the new law in regards to personal cultivation:

  • You must be age 21 or older (medical has different requirements)
  • You must not cultivate more than six plants per adult, with a six plant maximum per residence, regardless of stage in the plant life cycle

In addition, Prop. 64 communicates the following:

  • Any plants grown are to be done in full understanding of local or city regulations regarding how plants may be stored
  • No city or municipality can fully prohibit growing cannabis at home for nonmedical use
  • Cities and municipalities may prohibit outdoor cultivation, even if on private property
  • Any marijuana in excess of 28.5 grams (one-ounce possession limit) produced by the plants must be kept at home in a secure and nonpublic location
  • Cities and municipalities are in charge of creating regulation surrounding at home cultivation and may impose fees for administration, assessing community risks, and permits
  • The plants must be cultivated in a locked space, not visible to unaided eyes

Though many of the regulation surrounding at-home cultivation have yet to be fully dictated by cities, municipalities, counties, and districts, growing marijuana in California legally became a right of citizens the day Prop. 64 was signed into law.

Be aware, however, that buying seeds for your plants, unless you are a medical patient or can phone a friend to gift you some, is going to leave you waiting until retail businesses begin opening doors, which could be as late as January 1st, 2018.

Growing Considerations

Growing marijuana legally in California also carries knowledge restrictions. Gardening is a process of tact, experimentation, and adjustments, and it doesn’t always work out. While prohibition-style law has deterred many from even seeking marijuana growing knowledge, public excitement has the potential to hasten the approach many adopt. In particular, those who choose the indoor grow route can be at risk of damage to their home, belongings, and self if not handled correctly. For those who operate outdoor grows, penalties for being public, open, or nestled closely to youth populations (i.e – schools and daycares) exist both within Prop 64 and at the behest of the local city or county government.

I know, it seems a bit extreme to say you can put yourself at risk by growing plants, but there are several reasons a negative impact may present itself — financial or otherwise. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to growing in California:

Additional Equipment = Additional Electricity

If you are looking for budget, fully indoor grows — that is, where all light is simulated — can run up energy costs. Some of these lamps produce heat, which can be good for the plants but will work against air-conditioning, and we all can agree: A/C rules. If you are living in Southern California, the cost of lights putting out heat and using air-conditioning to keep it cool inversely affect one another, yet will both positively contribute to your electric bill at the end of the month.

In addition to lighting, humidifiers, fans, and ventilation tax electrical breakers, causing some growers to haphazardly use surge protectors and extension cords. The DEA has observed some growers going as far as altering electrical wiring, which can cause fire hazards (think about apartment complexes). With the possibility of high amounts of electrical current being in a humid, hot room with cords strewn about and wiring that is — possibly — not up to code provides the state pause.

The Cultivation Space and Place

Under California law, personal cultivation has to occur at a private residence but it doesn’t have to be your home. You can grow your plants, given you have satisfied the age requirement, at any private residence, given you have both the consent of the landowner and don’t break any of the rules laid out by Prop. 64 or the regulation yet to come. In California, legally growing weed requires that your plant-children are out of public view and locked away.

Within this legal framework, the space you have to cultivate can mean the difference between strong plants with great yields and okay plants with okay yields. If the space is too small by square footage, you may not be able to grow a full six plants. If you’ve got a greenhouse, you have to make sure it locks.

Space requirements can even differ based on strain genetics. Cannabis sativa, for instance, grows tall, narrow, taking longer to flower. Indica, in contrast, grows shorter, bushy, and is more commonly associated with quicker cycles of growth, but not guaranteed.

The Time of the Year

Plants require different amounts of light, in different intensities, and at different spectrums depending on the stage of their life. If you are growing in an outside garden, you’ll be limited to spring through fall (depending upon where you are in the state, of course) or in a greenhouse, and the rays of the sun. During the vegetative stage, for instance, plants thrive on 18 hours of light, yet, when they need to flower, 12 hours of night puts the plant into bud-production.

Lighting can be used in place of the sun, welcoming indoor grows to the year-round, with equipment and electricity costs being the prime considerations. No matter which method you choose — whether soil, hydroponic, deep water culture, or another of the various growing methods out there — the cost of lighting remains unchanged: an initial cost, a maintenance cost, and a perpetual cost — electricity.

Fertilizers & Pesticides

If growing marijuana in California legally is something you are considering, knowing which fertilizers supply the nutrient mix best suited for happy plants is paramount to both indoor and outdoor grows. Luckily, California boasts one of the most pleasant climates within the US, even mimicking some of the climate conditions where cannabis is thought to have originated in.

Unlike our ancient ancestors who are presumed to lack knowledge in agriculture and horticulture, we have measurements and tools and methods, forming a veritable utility belt of solutions to nearly any problem. Check out our grow shop locator, where you can find great deals for the grow shops in your area.

You’ll also want to make sure you are giving your plants enough water. In general, you need a good amount of nitrogen in the fertilizer during the vegetative stage, increasing both potassium and phosphate during flowering for dense flower nuggets, rich in scent and cannabinoid potency. In terms of pesticides, both federal and state governments have regulations for accepted chemical pesticides in consumable products, but you could also use things like animal urine, fences, and complementary plants (mint or basil to name a few).

It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

You know how many plants you can grow, the conditions (per prop 64) the plants must be stored under, the basic light requirements for healthy growth, the basic three nutrients that should be in any fertilizer you choose, as well as cost considerations and limitations. Growing marijuana in California legally requires just one more thing: grace when mistakes are made.

Whether you are new to growing marijuana or a veteran cultivator, sometimes things just go wrong and that’s okay. Adjust and laugh. Overwatering or overuse of fertilizers are common problems with easy, practical solutions. While hydroponics can greatly increase yields and accelerate flowering, ultimately soil is the most forgiving medium to plant your pot in. The number one thing is to give yourself time to learn.

Try growing just a single plant, or maybe just a few at a time. While other legal states give residents the right to have additional plants at the seedling, vegetative, or flowering stage in the life cycle, California allows a total of six plants. You don’t need to grow them all at once, especially if you are a new grower, because if just one goes rotten, problems can sometimes be communicable and it can ruin the whole crop. Most plants yield at least an ounce of buds, plus trim, but to each their own.