Although growing marijuana at home is convenient and fun, please check your state’s laws before you even think about proceeding. It isn’t worth ruining your life for the thrill of trying to grow four or five plants in your basement. For that reason when we ship you products we make that convenient mistake of mislabeling the package contents on the back of your envelope.
It seems bizarre to think that laws surrounding something that grows naturally could be so complicated. Well, welcome to America senhor! It is often times the land of utter confusion and home of ‘marijuana is legal here but not two miles away.’ The fact is, marijuana is still federally illegal, but it is legal to use recreationally in ten states plus D.C, and 23 more states enable you to use it for medicinal purposes.
However, the federal government could theoretically burst into a California dispensary and arrest everyone in sight, though this is incredibly unlikely – especially based on statements in recent years that have basically said state MMJ programs will not be tampered with. Regardless, everything is still a little confusing. You can currently buy weed openly in one state for fun, use it for a medical condition in another (with a valid MMJ card), or have no chance of smoking it legally at all in some states.
With such a bizarre list of cannabis laws which vary in every single state, it is hardly a surprise that would-be marijuana growers don’t know what the hell is going on. In this state-by-state guide, we aim to make the waters less muddy and outline the states where you can grow weed and the maximum amount of plants you can cultivate.
Please note that we have only covered states where it is legal to grow marijuana – even in some states with medical marijuana programs, personal cultivation is prohibited. None of the information in this article should be used for unlawful growing purposes. But if you live in a state where cross border shopping is illegal, then you are safer to import your needs to eliminate state border crossing regulations by bypassing them rules and safely import what you need for tomorrow – well, next week anyhow…
The State-by-State Breakdown to Growing Marijuana: Knowing the laws of every state is SUPER confusing, so we hope the following guide can serve as a useful resource if you intend to cultivate your own cannabis in a specific state or are simply curious about the laws.
Growing Marijuana: Alaska
Marijuana is legal for recreational use in the state of Alaska and was legalized for this purpose via Measure 2 in November 2014, winning with 53.23% of the vote. You can grow 12 plants in a household as long as the household consists of two adults aged 21 or over. Otherwise (i.e. if there are children present), one adult can cultivate six plants including a maximum of three mature cannabis plants. If you have a commercial license, though, there is no cultivation limit.
Growing Marijuana: Arizona
Weed is legal in Arizona for medical use only, and Proposition 203 scraped through in November 2010 with 50.13% of the vote. If you are an MMJ card holder, you can cultivate up to a dozen plants as long as you live more than 25 miles from your nearest dispensary. Also, a designated caregiver is allowed to grow the plants for you if you are incapable of doing so.
Growing Marijuana: California
The most populous state in the country finally legalized marijuana for recreational use in January 2018 after Proposition 64 passed with a 57% share of the vote. You are allowed to grow a maximum of six cannabis plants in the Golden State (no medical license required), but they must be grown in a locked private residence which can’t be seen by the public.
Growing Marijuana: Colorado
Colorado was the second state to legalize weed for recreational use via Amendment 64, which came into effect in December 2012. Adults aged 21+ are allowed to grow three mature and three immature plants privately in a locked space.
Growing Marijuana: Hawaii
Hawaii was the first state to legalize medical marijuana via state legislature back in June 2000. You are only allowed to grow a maximum of seven mature plants, and you have to be an MMJ cardholder.
Growing Marijuana: Maine
Cannabis has had a rich and varied history in the state of Maine. It was one of the first to prohibit the herb in 1913, but was also one of the first to decriminalize it in the modern era in 1976. Marijuana was legalized for medicinal use in 1999, and then in 2016, it became legal for recreational use after Question 1 passed. In Maine, you can grow a maximum of six plants at home, but the state also issues commercial licenses.
Growing Marijuana: Massachusetts
Marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts in 2016 when Question 4 passed with 54% of the vote. Each household is permitted to grow six plants, but the maximum increases to 12 if there is more than one adult in the house. However, your plants cannot be visible from the street. You can store up to ten ounces of dry herb at home.
Growing Marijuana: Michigan
Marijuana was legalized in Michigan in 2008 for medical purposes, but it is only available to acute and terminally ill patients. In 2018, however, cannabis was recreationally legalized in Michigan. You can grow up to 12 plants in a private and enclosed space if you are 21 years or older; your caregiver is also legally allowed to cultivate if you are unable to grow them yourself and are a medical marijuana patient.
Growing Marijuana: Montana
Weed was legalized for medicinal use in Montana in 2004. If you are a registered cardholder, you are allowed to grow a maximum of 12 plants, including four mature plants. Your caregiver can also grow cannabis for you, but only if they don’t charge you for the service. Incidentally, growing marijuana at home without a license in Montana is classified as a felony, with a possible prison term of up to 10 years.
Growing Marijuana: Nevada
Cannabis was legalized for medicinal use in November 2000, and Nevada pulled the trigger and allowed it to become legal for recreational use in November 2016 when Question 2 passed with 54% of the vote. Adults are allowed to grow a maximum of six plants as long as they live more than 25 miles away from a dispensary.
Growing Marijuana: New Mexico
Marijuana has been legalized in New Mexico for medicinal use since April 2007. If you have an MMJ card, you or your caregiver can grow up to 16 plants at a time; including a maximum of four mature plants.
Growing Marijuana: Oklahoma
Oklahoma is one of the more recent states to legalize weed for medical use, but it will probably be late 2019 at the earliest before the program is operational. State Question 788 was approved by voters in June 2018, and applications are supposed to open up August 2018. At the time of writing, the state is still drafting its new marijuana laws and there doesn’t appear to be a provision for home growing at present.
Growing Marijuana: Oregon
Marijuana has been legal recreationally in Oregon since 2014 when Measure 91 was approved. From July 2015, residents of the state were able to grow four marijuana plants at home, but you have to be aged 21 or over. According to NORML, Oregon residents are now allowed to grow a maximum of six mature marijuana plants along with 18 immature seedlings.
Growing Marijuana: Rhode Island
Although weed has been legal for medical use in Rhode Island since 2006, it is only available to patients who suffer from one of a specific list of conditions including HIV/AIDS, cancer, and glaucoma. Qualifying medical patients are allowed to grow a maximum of 12 plants. It is also legal for caregivers to cultivate. All marijuana plants must be grown indoors.
Growing Marijuana: Vermont
Medical marijuana was legalized in Vermont after Senate Bill 76 passed in May 2004. It became the first state legislature to legalize weed for recreational use in January 2018 with the law taking effect from July 2018. Residents of Vermont are now allowed to grow a maximum of nine marijuana plants; only two of which can be mature.
Growing Marijuana: Washington
Washington has the distinction of being the first state to legalize marijuana recreationally. Washington Initiative 502 made it possible, and the law came into effect on December 6, 2012, just four days ahead of Colorado. However, only medical patients are allowed to cultivate weed at home. You have to be entered in Washington state’s voluntary patient database to grow a maximum of six plants. You can possess a maximum of eight ounces of useable cannabis that comes from these plants.
Growing Marijuana: Washington D.C.
Weed became legal for recreational use in D.C. in 2014 via Initiative 71. Adults aged 21+ are allowed to grow six cannabis plants at home, but you can’t sell them for profit so remember to say “donation” when the narcs knock on the door asking to buy your stash. If there is more than one adult in a household, a maximum of 12 plants can be grown with a maximum of six mature plants.
Final Thoughts: State-by-State Laws for Growing Marijuana
You can only legally grow marijuana plants at home in the states listed above. And being labeled a criminoso is also the case if you illegally try to grow cannabis plants in states where only MMJ cardholders are allowed to do so. Take Georgia for example. Marijuana is entirely illegal, even for medicinal use. If you are caught growing a pound of weed, you could receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years. If you cultivate more than 10 pounds, the maximum sentence rises to 30 years! Man that is really harsh – so be careful out there.
Why some states allow commercial legal weed but not homegrowing
Growing your own doesn’t mean distribution
In many states, penalties for growing weed, even small amounts, are the same or similar as those for manufacturing or distributing hard drugs such as cocaine, meth, or heroin. These substances are classified as Schedule I drugs, as is cannabis, and many lawmakers lump all of them together.
Matthew Schweich, deputy director at the Marijuana Policy Project, “There is still a misconception among many policymakers that small-scale home cultivation of cannabis fuels the illicit market. The reality is that cannabis is difficult to grow and a person growing six to twelve plants at home has a negligible impact on the supply of cannabis in a state.”
Beginning with the Compassionate Care Act, passed in California in 1996, homegrowing originally allowed medical marijuana patients to produce their own stashes, not to fuel the illicit market. At the time, dispensaries were few and far between. Even now, some medical patients require large amounts of cannabis for their conditions or are unable to travel to dispensaries because of their conditions. Allowing them to grow their own gives them an option to save money, obtain medicine, and manage their conditions.
A recent poll from New Frontier Data showed that homegrowers have many reasons for growing their own, including convenience, low cost, better quality weed, cultivating hard-to-find strains, and a desire to enjoy cannabis that’s free from pesticides or other contaminants. Overwhelmingly, 70% of survey participants said they simply enjoy doing it.
Harsh homegrow laws
The misconception of “homegrowing equals distribution” has led to severe penalties in some states.
For a sense of how harsh homegrow penalties can be, check out these laws:
In Kansas, one of America’s few remaining full-prohibition states, cultivation of as few as five cannabis plants can result in a felony conviction, with up to seven years in jail and a maximum fine of $300,000.
Cultivation of more than 35g—a little more than an ounce—in medical state Missouri is a felony punishable by 3-10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
In Washington State, growing any amount of cannabis without a medical card is a felony offense, with a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000. That’s a real penalty for growing a single plant, in a recreational state.
New Jersey legislators are currently trying to add a homegrow bill to the recreational cannabis law voters passed in Nov. 2020. Currently, homegrowing isn’t even legal for medical patients. If you get caught growing between an ounce and five pounds of cannabis in New Jersey, you can get 3-5 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.
Taxes and land use
New Jersey passed a medical marijuana law in 2010 without allowing for homegrowing, and state legislators passed a legalization law in 2021, also without a provision that would allow homegrow. State Sen. Vin Gopal has introduced a bill to allow adults to grow 6 plants per person and 12 per household, and medical patients to grow 10 plants. The bill seems to be gaining traction, but it’s not a sure thing.
A huge roadblock to allowing homegrow in New Jersey is that many legislators lack an understanding of cannabis and how to grow it. Chris Goldstein, NORML Regional Organizer, has been advocating to legalize weed in New Jersey for more than two decades. There are fears that homegrowers are going to use up all the state’s electricity, that growers will burn down buildings by using too many grow lights, and that everyone in the densely populated state will start growing their own weed—truly, a garden state.
But the real political issues of blocking homegrowing come to light when you follow the money. Goldstein said that many legislators and businesses are “carefully coveting their future marijuana taxes,” as a percentage of sales go back to the state and toward social programs.
Additionally, In New Jersey there’s a very powerful real estate and insurance sector and those guys have been cagey about homegrow because they would have to alter all their existing rules and regulations and insurance coverage to adapt. They are a powerful lobby amongst legislators, and if they get a little bit cagey, all the sudden, things slow down.
Large multi-state operators also share some of the blame. Some cannabis producers are already set up in neighboring states or medical markets, and officials at some companies believe keeping homegrow illegal could allow them to set up a near-monopoly on cannabis production in the Garden State.
Kids don’t eat raw cannabis
Another surprisingly common fear voiced by politicians is that unsuspecting children will get into a neighbor’s crop, eat it, and get high. This argument became all too clear after Canada legalized recreational weed in 2018 and the province of Quebec banned homegrowing shortly after.
Before passing the law, in 2017, Quebec Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois voiced her disapproval of home cultivation on a popular Canadian talk show and in an interview in Vice, using the “kids will get into the neighbor’s crop” argument.
This is utter nonsense. Getting high by eating raw cannabis plants is a physical impossibility. Cannabis plant material must be heated in order to get a psychoactive experience, a process called decarboxylation. Raw weed contains THCA, which does not get you high. Heating it via smoking, vaporization, or in an oven if you’re making cannabutter, decarboxylates the plant material, turning THCA into THC, which does get you high. Eating raw weed off a plant is likely to give you a stomach ache. It will not get anyone high, although the medical benefits of raw cannabis are tremendous.
This argument also fails to acknowledge that homegrow laws often contain stipulations that cannabis must be grown out of sight of neighbors and/or behind locked doors.
Virginia allows homegrowing, but not retail sales
One exception to the reluctance of states to allow homegrowing is Virginia, which has allowed adults to grow their own cannabis while the state sets up a regulatory framework to allow the retail sale of marijuana.
In Feb. 2021, Virginia legislators voted to legalize recreational cannabis, but prohibited retail sales until 2024. Amendments to the bill were then passed to allow cultivation and limited possession in the interim, to reduce cannabis arrests and allow some access to the plant. Virginians can now grow up to four plants for personal use.
Obtaining seeds and seedlings to grow your own plants is still a little bit of a gray area in Virginia, as buying them or bringing them in across state lines is still illegal. But Virginia’s approach to allow homegrowing while it sets up a legal market, and beyond, is one that other states could learn a lesson from.