Top Reasons Why Your Indoor Grow Is Probably Illegal

Thirty-three states already have some form of legalized cannabis, whether medicinal or recreational. Changing laws and attitudes have inspired a whole generation of home growers, but just because you bought your seeds legally doesn’t mean that your indoor grow operation is above-board. If you meet any of the following criteria, congratulations: you’re growing weed illegally. 

1) You’re Growing More Than Your State Allows 

Every cannabis-friendly state places caps on the amount of marijuana you can grow and possess. In many cases, you’re also subject to local ordinances. For example, in California, you are allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants for recreational use. Growing any more than that is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500. 

Bear in mind that states use complex track-and-trace systems to document who is buying cannabis and how much. So even if you grow in your closet, staying above suspicion is not as easy as you might think. 

2) You’re Under 21 Years of Age 

In recreational marijuana states, you have to be 21 years of age to purchase, grow, and consume cannabis. Even if you’re growing seeds that you didn’t purchase yourself, you are still in possession of a controlled substance and subject to misdemeanor charges. In Canada, the rules are a little different. Most provinces set the minimum age at 19, however the legal age is 18 in Quebec

The other exception is if you’re a medical marijuana patient. Most states allow patients as young as 18 to qualify for a medical marijuana card. In cases of extreme illness, children may also qualify, but any grow operations are the responsibility of the caretaker and not the child. 

3) You’re Selling Without a Commercial License 

Even in states with recreational use, the cannabis black market is still alive and well. Because black-market sellers aren’t subject to the costly regulations and overhead, they’re able to undercut their above-board competition by a significant margin. But while it might seem tempting to make a few extra dollars selling your homegrown Northern Lights to friends, note that distribution can result in real prison time. While illegal marijuana possession is a misdemeanor in most states, distribution is commonly treated as a felony. 

4) You’re Careless With Your Hydroponic Supplies 

If you use a hydroponic system to grow cannabis, you have a whole other set of guidelines and regulations to worry about. Hydroponic wastewater must be purified or recycled, as you can face hefty fines if it contaminates local water systems. Hydroponic water contains nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, which can lead to massive algae blooms and interfere with oxygen levels in the atmosphere. 

In addition, mercury-containing grow lights and pesticide-rich hydroponic nutrients can’t simply be thrown away; they must be discarded at a hazardous waste facility. 

5) You Toss Your Cannabis Waste in the Garbage

While we’re on the subject of waste, you should know that it’s illegal to simply discard your unused cannabis. Though different states and licensing boards have different requirements, the general trend is that you must render the product unusable and unrecognizable. For instance, some growers will grind their cannabis down to a powder and mix it with detergent or bleach before combining it with other garbage. This ensures that nobody can swipe your unused marijuana from the trash and get high off of it. 

For commercial growers, the requirements are even more strict. Cannabis waste must be managed as part of the state’s track-and-trace system, which means that it must be weighed and documented both at the site of disposal and at the final landfill or composting site. This is why it’s so important for growers (and really, all cannabis manufacturers) to work with a reputable cannabis waste management company

Stay Legitimate As an Indoor Grower

If you want to avoid any legal entanglements, the important thing is to read up on your local laws and be mindful of: 

  • How much you grow 
  • What you do with the finished product
  • Whether you require any licensure (such as for medicinal marijuana or commercial sales)
  • How you dispose of your waste 

Growing marijuana indoors can save you a lot of money over time, but it’s not as cut-and-dry as many people assume. Do your homework ahead of time, and you’ll save yourself a lot of drama down the road.

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