How to grow marijuana: A Prop 19 primer
If the law passes, Californians can grow their own marijuana in a space of 25 square feet. Here's how to get started.
Thu, Oct 28 2010 at 1:07 PM
GET STARTED: Clones, or clippings from an original "Mother" plant, will cost about $50 to $100. (Photo: spotreporting/Flickr)
If you live in California, now might be a good time to learn how to grow marijuana.
In a few days, voters in California will decide the fate of the “Pot Prop” — the state ballot initiative, Proposition 19.
Otherwise known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, Prop 19, if passed, would allow, beginning Nov. 3, for people to possess up to one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana.
Prop 19’s potential passage also allows for individuals in California to grow their own, albeit in a space of up to only 25 square feet.
It’s a safe bet that growers will ignore the 25 square feet mandate, just as pot smokers country-wide have shunned the Federal Government’s Controlled Substance Policy, which has made marijuana consumption illegal for the last 70-plus years.
If you want to stay within the law and grow your own, 25 square feet — the size of typical apartment closet — should be enough to yield a small crop for personal consumption.
Beware though, marijuana consumption and distribution is still illegal under federal law.
California residents, however, will be in luck if Prop 19 is approved by a majority of voters.
If that heady vision comes to fruition and you want to take a stab at growing your own, consider hydroponic gardening, especially if you live in an area where access to an outdoor plot of land is hard to come by.
Before listing some of the basic ingredients required for home-grown bud, take note: the process is difficult for all but the most experienced and naturally green-thumbed growers.
First, you’ll need about $1,500-$2,000 for equipment costs. Expect to invest more for trial and error expenses.
Also, you’ll want to set aside $50 to $100 for your first clone. A clone is a clipping from an original “Mother” plant.
Some ganja green-thumb die-hards prefer to grow completely organically and start with a seed. The disadvantage of starting your own grow operation with seeds is it can take a full three months to cultivate from seed to weed.
If you’re lucky, one-pollinated female plant will yield only one or two seeds.
A clone, on the other hand, only takes about one month until bud clipping. A clone can be re-clipped over and over again, with no potency of THC (the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) lost in the process.
Caveat emptor when buying clones: some online operations have reputations for selling low-quality clones. The popular pot publication, High Times, is a good resource for buying clones.
Hydroponically grown pot also has a reputation of producing more aesthetically pleasing bud containing colored crystals.
You can read about which strains were winners at Amsterdam’s Super Bowl for marijuana growing, the Cannabis Cup.
Hydroponic growing contains no soil. Instead, you’ll need a good light, tray, nutrients, pump, rockwool (think: tiny pebbles) and a timer.
To grow up to an ounce, expect to pay approximately $100 extra on your electric bill per light. Your hydroponic setup minus the light will cost $500.
There are a few different methods of growing hydroponic weed. There also are a handful of options for a light system.
One of the most expensive lighting systems is high-pressure sodium light, which closely mimics the sun’s rays and can cost upwards of $1,000.
Make sure your lighting system has a hood, which focuses light, and a ballast, which prevents overheating and provides ventilation.
You’ll also want a 3-foot-by-4-foot tray, which will yield about six to eight mature plants.
Your clones will be cocooned in a plug at bottom of the tray. The roots will be below the pebble (rockwool) line and only the roots will be exposed to water.
An intake and outtake, timer-based irrigation system is necessary to make sure the roots remain permeated but not totally soaked. If you’re on a strict budget, expose the clone to 12 hours of light. If you want your plant to bud earlier, expose the clone to 18 hours of light.
The mother plant should remain in a vegetative state. Some growing aficionados swear that mother plants can age like a fine wine. It’s not uncommon for some people to use the same mother plant for over a decade.
When you clip off a branch from the mother to grow more, make sure you use a razor blade to make a cut. Cut at approximately a 45-degree angle, 12 inches up from the root.
There are lots of different ways to grow your own. Some growers even use bat guano to organically compost their plant material. Some add molasses for a sweeter-tasting bud. Just like with any other weeds that can grow, marijuana growing is indeed a diverse, time and money-consuming endeavor.
California voters will decide on Nov. 2 if they can legally partake in this labor of love.
Got more tips for how to grow marijuana? Leave us a note in the comments below.