Why Buy at the Dispensary When You Can Grow Cannabis at Home for Cheaper?
With the legal cannabis market, consumers can buy an array of products without considering cultivation, much like buying produce at a grocery store. Grocery stores are supplied by farms that take care of the cultivation and grow a product at a reasonable price.
For the most part, this is also true of cannabis, but let’s take a look at the numbers and see how growing your own stash and buying from a dispensary or adult use store compare.
How Much Does Cannabis Cost at a Store or Dispensary?
The ability to walk into a store and purchase cannabis products is a luxury that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Products like flower, concentrates, edibles, and more range in potency, flavor, and effect, and require expensive machinery and a high level of skill to produce. The diversity of flower and quality genetics is something most consumers couldn’t dream of 20 years ago.
But these products are subject to high taxes and regulations that make packaging and distribution expensive.
Costs Estimates of Store-Bought Cannabis (click to enlarge)
How Much Does It Cost to Grow Your Own Cannabis?
Growing your own cannabis has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Taking cultivation into your own hands gives you complete control of what goes into your cannabis, and it also gives you full knowledge of the growing process and a better understanding and appreciation of the plant.
It also allows you to explore growing techniques, genetics, harvest times, and curing strategies. This all requires time and effort, but it’s satisfying in the long run.
But growing your own cannabis does present some difficulties. Pests, mold, and other diseases can rapidly sabotage a grow and leave you with a bad crop. If you’re completely new to growing, trial and error could lead to some costly mistakes as you learn how to properly raise healthy crops with strong yields.
If you’re curious about the approximate costs of growing your own cannabis, keep in mind that pricing varies between growing indoors and outdoors, as well as the size of your grow.
Growing Cannabis Indoors
For our indoor cannabis grow cost estimates, we estimated costs for a 6′ x 6′ grow space, using soil as the growing medium, and only one room for both vegetative growing and flowering. Also, let’s assume we’re in a temperate climate where the use of A/C won’t be necessary, which will save some energy costs.
Not included in the price estimates is the cannabis plants themselves. For this exercise, we’ll use six clones to save space and reduce our vegetative growth time. A single clone can cost between $10-$30, but higher-quality clones can be more expensive. Our plants will spend around a month in vegetative growth and around 8-10 weeks flowering.
Cost Estimates of Growing Cannabis Indoors
|Built grow space (6′ x 6′)||$250|
|1000-watt light setup (ballast, HPS bulb, hood)||$200-$600|
|Metal halide bulb||$30-$100|
|6″ inline fan||$80-$200|
|Six 10-gallon pots||$20-$40|
|Two 30-gallon water tanks||$50-$100|
|60 gallons of soil||$60|
|Nutrient starter kit||$50-$100|
|Hardware (trellising, zip ties, stakes)||$50|
|3.5 months of electricity to power equipment||$700|
|TOTAL COST RANGE:||$1,575 to $2,320|
With a 1000-watt bulb, ideally, you will produce up to a gram of flower per watt. Realistically, when starting out, you might get anywhere between half a gram and a gram per watt. This assumes you avoid pests and disease, and you feed your plants nutrients to keep them healthy. You should set aside an hour or more every couple days to observe your plants and work in the garden to keep your plants happy.
Small Closet Grow
If a 6′ x 6′ ft space is unrealistic, consider growing in a much smaller space using a grow tent. Grow tent dimensions start at 2′ x 2′ x 5′ for under $1,000, which includes everything you’ll need to grow cannabis except for soil and the plants. You can usually grow two to four plants in 1- to 3-gallon pots, and you’ll most likely use a 400-600 watt light.
Cost Estimates of a Small Closet Cannabis Grow
|2′ x 2′ x 5′ grow kit||$900|
|Four 3-gallon pots||$20|
|20 gallons of soil||$20|
Growing Cannabis Outdoors
Growing cannabis outdoors can be a very simple startup process. The biggest factor to take into account is the climate where you live. It needs to be sunny and dry enough to promote growth and prevent rot, and it needs to stay sunny and warm long enough into the fall to allow the plants to finish flowering. Growing in a greenhouse can help regulate temperature and moisture-related issues.
For this estimate, we are growing in a climate where plants can be outside from the start of the season (July) to the end of the season (October). Again, we assume using clones to start, which aren’t included in our cost estimates.
Cost Estimates of Growing Cannabis Outdoors
|45 gallon smart pots (5 count)||$80-$140|
|Soil (20 gallons, 12 count)||$300-$500|
|Watering tank (250 gallons)||$500|
|Mixing tank (50 gallons)||$100|
|Hardware (trellising, zip ties, stakes hoses, valves)||$400|
|TOTAL COST RANGE:||$1,830-$2,940|
You can get high yields of quality product growing outdoors. A plant grown in a 10-gallon pot should net you between 1-2 lbs of flower. You’ll need to consider the amount of time you will put into your garden—a couple of hours every couple of days on average should be enough to take care of your plants. Some days won’t require any work while others will require a bit.
Other expenses that may have an impact on your grow are equipment having to do with security or controlling odor.
If you already own equipment from growing other types of plants, you can certainly reuse many of these startup materials for growing cannabis. Growing just a plant or two in your yard will cost even less than the prices listed in these table.
Estimated Price Per Gram of Indoor and Outdoor Cannabis Grows
|Yield||Cost||Price Per Gram|
|Indoor 6’x6′ – 500 grams||$1,948||$3.90|
|Indoor 6’x6′ – 1,000 grams||$1,948||$1.95|
|Indoor 2’x2′ – 200 grams||$940||$4.70|
|Indoor 2’x2′ – 400 grams||$940||$2.35|
|Outdoor – 2,000 grams||$2,385||$1.19|
|Outdoor – 4,000 grams||$2,385||$0.60|
Looking at these totals, you’ll find that growing can be done for a much lower price than purchasing your product at the store. However, labor and property aren’t included in these costs. Someone will have to check in on the garden daily and spend time pruning, trimming, feeding, watering, and monitoring the plants for signs of disease, rot, or mold. Growing cannabis is labor-intensive and can be difficult, but if you’re looking for a new hobby and have the time to dedicate to it, you will save money and enjoy yourself.
Labor Costs and Their Impact on Price Per Gram
When including estimated labor costs of $20 per day for the growing period, the prices change significantly. (We adjusted the labor time needed for the 2′ x 2′ space at $10 per day because the size of the space is much more manageable.)
- Indoor 6′ x 6′ space: $140 per week x 14 weeks = $1,960
- Indoor 2′ x 2′ space: $70 per week x 14 weeks = $980
- Outdoor space: $140 per week x 20 weeks = $2,800
Estimated Price Per Gram of Home Grows Including Labor
|Yield||Cost (Including Labor)||Price Per Gram|
|Indoor – 500 grams||$3,908||$7.82|
|Indoor – 1,000 grams||$3,908||$3.91|
|Indoor 2’x2′ – 200 grams||$1,920||$9.60|
|Outdoor – 2,000 grams||$5,185||$2.59|
|Outdoor – 4,000 grams||$5,185||$1.30|
Reflecting on the costs between purchasing cannabis and growing your own in addition to the benefits that each method has to offer might have you clearly leaning to one side or stuck in a stalemate. Cannabis is not cheap or easy to grow, and chances are you will get higher quality, more diverse products at the local shop.
However, if you want to explore producing your own crop and if it feels less like labor and more like a hobby, then perhaps a personal garden is the way to go.
Cannabis legalization allows consumers to buy various products at dispensaries without having to cultivate plants, but does it cost less to grow your own?
Want to Setup a Marijuana Grow Room? Here are the Costs
With legal medicinal marijuana now available in 33 American states and D.C. , the industry is set for a golden age. In fact, there are so many commercial cultivators that states such as Oregon have a massive surplus. In 2017, the global legal marijuana industry was worth around $9.5 billion per annum; the United States accounted for 90% of it!
According to Grand View Research, the global market could grow to over $146 billion per year by 2025. The legalization of weed in Canada means that America will no longer have such a huge market share, but the industry will grow to unprecedented levels in the near future.
The Cannabis Business Plan website suggests that the average commercial operation has costs of $830,000 per annum! When you add in the heavy taxes on weed businesses, and difficulties finding a bank that will do business with you, cannabis-based businesses will find it tough to make their fortune.
If you live in a state where it is legal to grow weed at home, you don’t have such worries. What you need to determine is if your weed usage warrants a home grow. In this guide, we take a brief look at the cost of setting up an indoor marijuana grow room at home.
Building Your Grow Room
When it comes to setting up an indoor grow, it is best to keep it simple. It should go without saying that you must purchase feminized seeds , or use cuttings from a female ‘mother’ plant. If you purchase regular seeds, half of them will become male plants. While male plants have their uses, they will not grow the resinous, cannabinoid-rich buds that you want.
You can purchase seeds online for anywhere between $10 and $20 apiece. There should also be options to purchase 3-packs, 5-packs, and 10-packs at least. A 10-pack should cost 20% or so less per seed. A 5-pack is the most popular option (most states only allow you to grow a maximum of six plants) and will probably cost approximately $60.
The simplest way to grow weed at home is to invest in a grow tent . They are designed specifically for growing marijuana, are easy to assemble, and will cause no damage to your property. A two by two-foot (2’ x 2’) tent will cost approximately $120 and can house a maximum of three plants.
A 3’ x 3’ tent houses up to four plants and could cost more than $200. Larger tents may cost over $300.
If you use a hydroponics setup , you must purchase an inert growing medium such as coco coir or rockwool, and are also responsible for ensuring that your crop gets all the nutrients it needs. The cost of the system itself depends on the ‘type’ you choose. For instance, a 12-plant watering system could cost over $500, but there are cheaper options for under $200.
A super soil mix can cost between $20 and $50, while there are also nutrient kits on the market for $80+. There is a school of thought that professional soil and nutrient mixes are a better option than natural plant soil because of fewer contaminants.
Lighting & Electricity
As your plants don’t get the benefit of sunlight when growing indoors, it is your responsibility to ensure they get all the light they need. During the vegetative stage, your plants should be exposed to at least 18 hours of light per day. It drops to 12 hours during blooming. There is a variety of grow light options which vary in price and power.
Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) for example, are the weakest but are useful for small grow rooms and available from as little as $50 for 200 Watts, depending on the spectrum. HID and LED lights are more expensive but provide far more light. For example, a 140-Watt light could cost over $300, but is far more ‘energy efficient’ than CFLs.
When you add in extra costs such as a hood and ballast, a 1000-Watt setup could cost up to $600. Hopefully, you can produce a gram per watt. This would equate to just under 36 ounces.
Electricity costs are harder to calculate because the cost varies across the United States. The national average is approximately $0.13 per kWh. A 320-Watt LED grow light probably uses almost 6-kilowatt hours per day during the vegetative stage . In flowering, the same light uses almost 4-kilowatt hours a day. Overall, the cost of electricity for this single grow light is approximately $4 per week. For three lights and a 10-week grow, your electricity cost is $120.
Filters aren’t a necessity, but they clean the air and eliminate the smell of weed. Typically, you can expect to pay over $100 for a filter and duct fan combination. You also need clip fans to keep your grow tent closed and circulate the air inside; they cost approx. $30.
If you are using soil, it is also necessary to purchase different sized pots. When your plant grows, you have to transport it to a larger pot. You also have to purchase soil. There is also the option to buy hardware such as stakes, zip ties, anda screen if you are going to attempt the Screen of Green (SCROG) or Sea of Green (SOG) growing methods.
We also recommend purchasing a pH testing kit. If your crop’s growing medium is outside the 6.0 to 6.8 range (5.5 to 6.5 for hydroponics), the ability of the plants to absorb nutrients will be compromised. There are decent pH testing kits for just $20. You should also invest in a digital timer for around $25. They ensure that your plants are growing on the right lighting schedule.
As temperature and humidity play such a crucial role in growing marijuana, purchase a thermometer and hygrometer, or an all-in-one device. They are available for just $10. If you live in an area where the water isn’t suitable for weed, consider buying a reverse osmosis system to purify the water. The cost ranges from $150 to thousands of dollars.
How long do you spend tending to your marijuana plants? Compare it to how much you are paid for working per hour. Even if it works out at around $20 a day, that equates to $1,400 during a 10-week grow.
Final Thoughts on Setting Up a Grow Room
If you choose the most basic of setups, you can begin growing marijuana at home indoors for under $2,000. The main benefit is that you can enjoy several harvests each year, and most of the equipment you purchase can be used over and over again. Smaller setups might produce 200 grams which works out at around $10 a gram.
Although it depends on the strain, you should be able to find weed for that price or less at a dispensary. It is when you grow cannabis on a larger scale (within the limits of the law) that you see the real benefits. Let’s say you spend $4,000 on your setup during the year but produce approximately 1,000 grams of marijuana. At $4 a gram, you are definitely winning, especially if you need weed for medicinal purposes .
Incidentally, Canadian companies are selling ‘starter kits’ for under $500. They consist of a 2’ x 2’ grow tent, nutrients, pH drops, a digital timer, clip fan, adjustable hangers, lighting, and CO2 bags. You also have to factor in the cost of electricity, but that is an exceptional deal.
There are more complex kits on the market from $1,000+. If you grow marijuana, you get to learn so much more about the plant than if you only ever buy from a dispensary. You will ‘feel’ closer to the cannabis, and of course, it is a great story to tell your friends!
We take a look at how to set up a grow room for cannabis, and how much it is likely to cost. Here's everything you need to know and more.