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!