Oct 122011
 October 12, 2011

 

bc budHow Much Does Medical Marijuana Cost?

You’ve probably heard this many times before, “It’s a weed. Marijuana is easy to grow, you just plant a seed outside, give it some water and miracle grow, then BOOM, you are rolling in free pot.” If I had a dollar every time I heard someone say something like that, I would have enough money to buy a lifetime worth of reefer. However, anyone who has grown good marijuana knows that it takes quite a bit of love and care to get your strain to output at it’s highest level.

 

More and more people are getting their marijuana cards, prop 215’s, or ‘fill in the blanks’ everyday and as a result, more and more people are growing medical marijuana. In my home state of Oregon, we are proud to grow our own. With over 50,000 patients (and climbing) Oregon has tens of thousands of growers. Other states that allow patients (or their designated growers) have countless gardens as well. A big question that every greenhorn has is ‘how much is it going to cost to grow?’ There are many factors involved, and no doubt I will miss some, but here is somethings that my friends and I came up with to consider.

 

First, does the grower have access to clones or ‘starts?’ If so, that cuts a lot of time off, and time is money in this process, regardless of the method. Even the cheapest method requires some additives, even if they are natural, and additives cost something. Anyhow, if the grower has to grow from seed, this will require germination, and a lot of attention. All of the veterans I know use additives to help speed up the process, but it still takes light power and the additives cost a little bit. Also, chances are you ordered the seed online or received them on vacation at a out-of-country shop, so that costs money as well. Clones can cost too, but chances are if you can get your hands on reliable clones, it’s from a reliable friend that will help you out for free. After all, it’s just a branch, don’t be a d face!

 

Another major factor is if the grower is going to put their garden indoors or outdoors. Outdoors costs considerably less due to no electricity, as well as less additives. I know outdoor growers that have done the same cheap method for years — dig big holes, back fill them with a cheap, enhanced natural soil, and give them nothing but water and animal fertilizer (such as chicken poo). The only cost is for the soil and whatever it breaks down at to get the chickens to poo…Contrast that to indoor gardens that at the very least need quality lighting, buckets and soil, but usually also need fans, ducting, building supplies to alter the room, mylar, nutrients, CO2, pest and fungus controls, and who knows how many other bells and whistles, especially with hydroponic gardens that also need pumps, hoses, etc.

 

Organic growing styles are by far cheaper than synthetic methods. Egg shells, animal fertilizer, and other homemade additives are cheap if not free, which cuts down on one of the most expensive ongoing costs involved. Soil is going to be much cheaper than hydroponics, even though hydroponics gets the hype. Hydroponics will yield much more, and faster, but they require countless nutrients. Synthetic additives can get quite spendy. For a multi-patient hydroponic garden using 9,000 watts a month, I can say first hand that the cost of synthetic nutrients can cost anywhere from 200-1000 a month. If you are in it just to get medicine, that is obviously a tremendous expense even if it’s broken up amongst several patients. Of course, that might seem like an extreme case to people in some areas, but a garden that size is not uncommon on the West Coast.

 

The other major ongoing cost for an indoor garden is the electricity. For the 9,000 watt garden I referred to above, the average electricity bill is right around 700 dollars a month. Unlike the nutrients, it doesn’t fluctuate. The garden is for four people, so I think it’s reasonable to say that if the grower gets two 1,000 watt lights for flowering and a veg light of 400-600 watts (standard for Oregon), the grower can expect something like 175 a month for their garden. Of course, power costs differ across the nation, so don’t take those numbers as guaranteed. There are also ongoing equipment costs because pumps break, bulbs need to be replaced, etc.

 

The strain is an important thing to consider as well. Strains that take longer to finish are going to require more resources, obviously. A big debate in Oregon is how does rent figure into the equation. People rent spaces and facilities purely for growing, so is the rent included into the cost? What if you get a slightly bigger house to keep your garden in, do you pro-rate it? Does rent not need to be included at all? The debate will possibly never be decided…

 

Another reason that the cost of growing medical marijuana is important is because some states permit people to reimburse the grower for their costs. Oregon is notorious for this. People sell marijuana for upwards of 50 dollars an eighth stating that it’s the cost of growing it. Cops of course argue that this is street value, so clearly violations are occurring. I would point out to neo-cons and cops the principle that were first introduced in the book ‘Wealth of Nations’ — the larger the production, the cheaper the cost.

 

So if cops are basing their street value off of their purchases from drug cartels, obviously the profit margins will be inflated. The cartels produced that marijuana on an ENORMOUS scale, driving down the cost of production and boosting the profit margin. With a one person garden, the medical marijuana is not produced on nearly the same scale, and therefore the cost of production rises per ounce. I’m not condoning people selling eighths for 50 bucks, but I think it’s a valid point that a lot of people don’t think about.

 

How much does it cost to operate your garden? Whether it’s cheap, or costs a phenomenal amount, please put your comments below to give others a better idea of how much it costs to operate various sizes and types of gardens. Help others benefit from your experience!

About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • http://veganicvision.com Bird

    I agree that an 1/8 shouldn’t cost $50 but good quality indoor cannabis does cost a good bit to produce. I am writing a book for the budget medical grower and the costs even for the economically minded person is quite expensive. I would say $35 an 1/8 is much more likely to be accepted depending completely on quality. If it is not that good then the price should drop to $8 a gram or even less. There are also “rare” strains where people are trying to get top shelf prices due to lack of competition which is all together another issue, such as high CBD strains. These strains are practically non-existent in WA.

    I hope to discuss this topic a bit further along with sustainable vegan and organic gardening techniques on my blog veganicvision.com. Please come join me to help grow this community. I have posted a link for this blog on my website. Thanks and I would love to hear some feedback on my site. This site is cool and you actually have people that respond to your posts which is nice. I haven’t quite made it to that point yet.

  • EgadsNo

    A Rand study showed the price of cultivating marijuana indoors can be as low as 10 dollars per ounce factoring electricity, fertilizer, labor, and land space rent, which is about 40x less then the black market street value, when you factor the amount of times per year you can harvest it. The complaints about electricity are a joke, its nothing close to what real power heavy industries use. A gallon of gas can power 28kw/h- this guy is complaining about 4 gallons of gas a day to run his business which produces a plant that used to worth its weight in gold? Cry me a river…

    There many be many fascinating botanical aspects to tending cannabis plants- but because cannabinoids are a system of defense that has been established over hundreds of millions of years it makes the plant rugged enough to grow at very high altitude (high radiation) to grow in a range of soil types and climates. Growing great bud is another story- but this is ridiculous.

    If it were completely legal, only regulated at point of sale to the user. I would expect the competitive market to be flatten out around 30 dollar ounces. I could easily see States wanting to add even as high as a 20$ sales tax on it. They are gonna need the money to pay for their police stations ya know… I do not think any user would be complaining about that price- only the small time pro growers.

    • EgadsNo

      By the way “They are gonna need the money to pay for their police stations ya know” refers not to an increase of need for police, but for the lack of funds they would be appropriated by the federal government. Right now they are getting trillions per decade for it.

    • Michael Mannor

      So what your saying is under that power source your going to grow 30 OZ and thats just to break even on gas.
      4 Gallons of gas X 60 days (low # of day) = 240 gallons X Again low cost for fuel 3.75 a gallon = $900.00 for fuel for 1 grow. So to get back your 900 your going to need 30 Oz and I just dont think the math works at that figure.

  • Silverado

    What is the true price for an ounce of grade A weed minus the current premium everyone pays for….illegality?? I’ve asked the question myself and would hazard a guess that it will be much like the meat market. You know – beef?? With it’s many grades and different cuts, I can see the same thing in the MJ market. I personally see a “floor price” of the best of the best going for $100 to $125 per ounce (eventually) and everything of lesser quality going cheaper. You guys who say the price should be $30 an ounce have never grown anything called grass except your lawn and therefore have no idea from a producers point of view what’s really involved. Trust me when I tell you there’s more to growing great weed than using Rapid-Grow every other watering. Though of course with everyone and their brother currently growing thanks to the medi-pot laws (here in the northwest anyway) and I would say that most anyone can grow adequate quality MJ. But for the true masters of the craft and resident green-thumbed experts, I submit all we really have is to make sure of the quality of the strain and the “organic-ness” of the grow – in short, the quality (bag appeal) of the final product. And it’s more than obvious that everyone is NOT up to the task.
    Anyway, I get a kick out of these “tax the weed types” that think every grower will willingly signup to collect and pay some kind of sales tax all in the name of legality, for BIG brother. When in reality, the only weed that will be taxed by the state is the weed grown & sold by the state or it’s designatee. Nobody else will bother and why in the Libertarian spirit of it all, should they?? While the meat market may be a model for future MJ pricing of the commodity itself, when it comes to collecting taxes on MJ, that part of the picture will look more like the Moonshiners trying to stay invisible from the revenuers we see these days on the Discovery channel. And that part of it will, I reckon, never change…..

  • Bud Man

    There must be good and bad grow room equipment on the market. What brand of equipment can you recommend for good all around reliability and cost? Which equipment maker do you see growing with the industry as legalization spreads? Thanks