A voter initiative has legalized marijuana in Michigan, but the regulatory structure of the legal market has yet to be created, which means legal sales are not expected until 2020. Until then, it is legal to give marijuana away but not to sell it for recreational use. This has led to the creation of “gifting” businesses that give marijuana away as part of a sale of some legal item, such as a piece of chocolate or a T-shirt. This business model is not legal, however, so it may be shut down by law enforcement. For those not willing to wait, there is another option for obtaining marijuana for recreational use–to grown one’s own.
Michigan’s Home Grow Law
Michigan’s new marijuana law allows those 21 years old or older to grow up to 12 plants for personal use. Any plant, including a seedling, counts as a plant. The grow must be in “an enclosed area equipped with locks or other functioning security devices that restrict access to the area” and not be visible “from a public place without the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids.” Thus it is possible to grow outdoors if the area is suitably fenced and locked.
Landlords can forbid marijuana grows, so renters will need permission. Another potential obstacle is that seeds can be difficult to obtain, since under federal law they cannot legally be mailed or shipped by the U.S. Post Office or by any carrier across state lines. Seeds, like marijuana, can be given away, but medical cannabis vendors are not allowed to provide cuttings or seeds to recreational users.
It is possible that additional restrictions will be placed on home grows. Opponents of legalization have been calling for passage of state and local laws that will place new limits or bans on home grows. While it will require a two-thirds vote in the statehouse to overturn the initiative, laws and regulations may be passed that courts will have to address.
Assuming that opponents fail at altering the law passed by the voters, if one has a suitable space for a grow and obtains seeds, the next step to consider is how to grow marijuana. While the plant grows relatively easily, cultivation of budding female plants requires considerable care and no inconsiderable expense.
First, space is required. For 12 plants, a space of 10 to 12 feet square is the rough minimum. Another factor to consider is the size—in particular the height—of the canopy of the grown plants, which can grow to five feet tall. If the grow is indoors, a system of lighting and watering and/or feeding is necessary, along with means of regulating temperature and humidity (and other factors as well, such as ventilation, odor control, and possibly carbon dioxide). Pumps, controllers, lights, and fans require electricity, so an estimate of electrical power requirements will need to be made, which may require improvements to the electrical system. A fire safety system is also recommended. The grow space will need to be clean and have reflective surfaces, along with a ceiling or beams that allow for lights to be hung at adjustable heights. While kits are available, they require setup and installation, which may require some alteration.
Once a grow space is set up, it can take at least four months for buds to develop during daily monitoring of all the variables of light, nutrients, and other factors. For new as well as experienced growers, there are websites, forums, books, and other media available to help with the entire process.
Once the harvest is in, Michigan’s new law allows home growers to have 10 ounces of bud at home at any given time. Those who develop some skill at growing may soon find themselves able to give marijuana away.
What do you think? Will home cultivation take over Michigan’s basements? Leave a comment below.