Growing your own marijuana for recreational use became legal in California in November 2016 when voters passed Proposition 64.
But Californians with medical marijuana cards have been allowed to legally grow cannabis much longer than that.
Marijuana is something of a high-maintenance plant and it is not always easy to grow your own.
David Newman is the co-owner and head grower of A Soothing Seed in Oceanside, which sells marijuana cuttings to people with medical marijuana prescriptions.
Newman will join Midday Edition on Wednesday to discuss the pros and cons of personal cannabis cultivation.
Q: How difficult is it to successfully grow your own marijuana? How does it compare to say, growing your own tomatoes?
A: The comparison is about the same. Some people have a green thumb and some people just don’t. Cannabis, like many plants, you’ll have your easier strains that would be better suited for the beginner grower. And then you have your moderate and you have extensive grow strains, so it really pushed the gamet and it really comes down to personal and how well you are of a gardener.
Q: Can you attempt to grow a marijuana plant in your outdoor garden in our climate, or do you need an indoor grow space?
A: Southern California is perfect climate for growing marijuana. It’s very tropical, so no, it’s actually a great environment for outdoor growing. Many have chose, obviously, to grow indoors over the years, stealth growing has become a thing , so yes the indoor growers have kept up with technology and have done everything they can as gorilla growers to bring in a successful harvest in an indoor fashion.
Q: Where are the most common grow spaces?
A: Usually grow tents. You can get them on eBay or Amazon. They come in various shapes and sizes. They usually have a reflective interior. They set up and take down very quickly and easily. They are lightweight and that’s pretty much how everyone will get started. Between that and some soil, some buckets and a grow light, a little bit of ventilation, and they’re off and running. After that first harvest comes in, which in most cases usually isn’t great, they will move on to their second and things progress from there, just like with any hobby. It can get quite expensive or not depending on your skill level.
Q: Talk to us about light. We understand it is essential for the plants.
A: It is , the more light you give to a marijuana plant the better it’s going to yield for you. Most people like myself we started out years ago, we start with a 400 dollar light. For the vegetative state, you will use something like a metal halide, something in the 6500 kelvin range. And then when you go into the flower you will switch that bulb over to a high pressure sodium to something in the 2400 kelvin range. That gives you those more red tones that will help the plant actually flower. Then from there, you obviously move up to 600 watts, 1000 watts, whatever your room can handle. Of course with these high intensity discharge lights comes a lot of heat and you have to be able to move that heat.
Q: So you need your fans?
A: You need your fans, extraction fans and ventilation.
Q: And how much water do you need?
A: That depends on your grow technique as well. Hydroponics, aquaponics, fogponics, soil, it all really depends on the type of technique you decided to move on with and how big you plan on growing your plants. There’s also various techniques so you don’t necessarily have to grow large plants. These are for the indoor growers who spent years being undercover and keeping everything very stealthy. They’ve learned how to to keep their plants from getting huge, monstrous like they would on an outdoor grow.
Q: What is the growth cycle like when you are growing marijuana in the soil indoors?
A: An indoor grow is about a three month cycle. Most growers will tend to vegetate their plants for about one month and then it’s usually a 60 day cycle in flower after that. So you’ll get about four harvest per year on an indoor grow and for an outdoor grow your kind of limited to the season, so it’s usually one grow. But, that outdoor grow, you tend to grow larger plants because your going anywhere from April to September, October, November. So, you grow large plants so the yields tend to end up being about the same when all is said and done.
Q: So, since it is not the easiest thing to do, why do people decide to grow their own marijuana as opposed to buying it from a dispensary?
A: It can ease up on the costs, in many cases. A lot of this grow equipment and initial outlay in costs to set up is reusable so after you get your first harvest, you then continue to get three, four, five harvest before you have to start replacing things. In that case if you have done a good job you can yield quite well and save a lot of money in the long run.
Q: What are the regulations regarding personal marijuana cultivation…how many plants can you have…how much marijuana can you grow?
A: For adult use, you get to have six plants per resident as long as you are 21 years of age or older. For medical use, you’re still limited to the six plants but you can get an exemption on your recommendation allowing you to cultivate more plants. This is fairly common with the medical growers because most medical growers today are not smoking the cannabis, they are taking it in oil form or edibles or topicals or tinctures. Now to get that oil you tend to need a lot of plant material just to get a small amount of oil. So, the six plants usually doesn’t quite do it. So, here comes the exemption which allows you to grow more than just the six plants.
Q: And even though you are growing your own six plants , you are not allowed to sell any of that marijuana.
A: No, you are not. It all needs to be kept in your home in a secure area and you can keep all you can grow. You can’t transport it all but you can keep it in your house, as much as you can grow.
Q: Now, marijuana sale and possession is still a federal crime, even though it’s legal to grow in California, do you have any words of caution for people thinking of growing their own?
A: It’s always been said while it remained under prohibition is you got to remember the first two rules of Fight Club. A: You don’t talk about Fight Club and rule number two is you don’t talk about Fight Club. So, people tend to keep their voices down and their heads down and we ask that they continue to do that.
Q: Considering what’s going on at the federal level…
A: Yes, it’s always a good idea to air on the side of caution. You also, when you do your home grows, you want to be mindful of your neighbors. You want to keep odors down, and things to that effect. Keeping the noise levels down, so again, don’t broadcast what you are doing and you will be just fine.
Q: I identified your business A Soothing Seed as selling marijuana cuttings to people with medical marijuana prescriptions. Are you now selling cuttings to people for recreational use?
A: No, we’re still operating under the nonprofit set up under SB-42. We’re a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation. We’ve spent years providing cuttings, rooted clippings to our members who then take them into their garden and grow their own medication and we help them along the way so they have a successful harvest when all is said and done. We can’t sell recreational now, obviously, without a state license. We are working on something towards that. Meantime we’re still running under the nonprofit model from SB 40 or Prop 215 and we supposedly can continue to do that until Jan. 9 and that again depends on who you speak to. But they the state are phasing out in lew of the for profit. In the meantime, everybody has to get licensed locally or they won’t be able to be able to get licensed on a state level.
Q: Are the laws and the rules and regulations for selling recreational marijuana, is that still a work in progress in Oceanside?
A: Yes, while to ad hoc committee did include some extent of recreational marijuana in the cultivation and as well as the manufacturing and we did have a council member that is not necessarily on board with the recreational laws. He would rather keep everything compassionate and medical. We understand this. He wants to get his toe wet and we can see how the city progresses from there but we did have to pull out any mention of recreational and so it looks like it will just be a medical, to start with, and then the city can decide to go into recreational as it sees fit.
Q: When is the city (Oceanside) going to decide when is the next time the Oceanside City Council is going to look at this?
A: We expect that to be in the next 30 to 60 days.