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So You Want to be a Grower?

Young Plants from Lion Heart Dispensary


So You Want to be a Grower?

Photo by Gabe Perry

So You Want to be a Grower?

Growing pot is really easy, and it will make you filthy rich, rich beyond your wildest dreams! In fact, you should quit your job, move to California or Colorado and fill your house with lights! What could go wrong?

Does this sound a little naïve to you? It should, but unfortunately that has been the mentality of so many pot entrepreneurs since the Ogden Memo de facto “legalized” medical marijuana in 2009. The problem is that in order to live off of growing or selling pot you absolutely have to treat growing and selling pot, well, like an actual job.

Besides here are all the things that can, and have, gone wrong for so many get-rich-quick schemers:

Growing good pot isn’t easy. Growing pot is easy. Growing good pot takes scientific knowledge, time and attention. Study up!

Pests can destroy your crop. Bugs and diseases can destroy your crop, creating a negative ROI for that cycle.

The market price has dropped. So many people have been growing pot that the supply has gone up exponentially faster than demand, lowering prices. During the height of prohibition even bad pot could sell for up to $3,000 a pound. Today in California and Colorado you can’t even give it away sometimes. Only the best of the best will fetch that kind of money in this market unless you take it across state lines for sale, which leads to the next point.

It is still federally illegal, although you may be making money now you could potentially go bankrupt fighting charges or find yourself in jail. The price has dropped so low in some states that many farmers have resorted to sending their product across state lines to increase their profit. Doing so will put you in violation of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, and could land you in jail for years (remember that federal judges are bound by law to issue mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes).

There is no accountability. And finally, because it is still federally illegal, there is no accountability in business. Your partner could screw you over, you crop can get stolen and there is no legal recourse for you to take like there would be in any other, “legitimate” business.

Still interested in growing pot? Remember that you need two things: knowledge of cannabis and knowledge of business. You have essentially now started your first small business. You may have employees to pay and actual work to do.

Many a grower who lives the high life the first couple months after harvest may be found scrounging pennies to buy ramen before the next. Unfortunately, anyone who treats growing pot like a well-funded frat party you are going to go broke fast. Proper budgeting is essential. Whether your garden is set up to continuously harvest or to harvest once every three months, you need to calculate your return on investment and create a monthly budget to live and operate your business on. While it may be tempting to spend all your profit, it is wise to stash some away every month for rainy days, and there are way more of those in cannabis cultivation than any other industry — including destroyed crops, broken equipment, and of course legal fees.

So remember: growing cannabis can be lucrative, but for many it’s a bust – in more ways than one.

Originally published in Issue 6 of Cannabis Now Magazine. LEARN MORE.

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