Can You Save Money By Growing Your Own Cannabis?
Yes. For a variety of reasons, it is much more cost effective to grow your own cannabis than to buy cannabis from dispensaries.
Each year over the last decade, a number of new states have decided to legalize cannabis for recreational or medicinal purposes.
That’s a good thing, right?
Well, yes. But that’s only half of the story.
It’s certainly a good thing that patients can get access to a non-invasive medical treatment that is effective against numerous ailments.
It’s certainly a good thing that people aren’t going to jail or prison for smoking (or otherwise consuming) cannabis. Especially since there are some massive racial disparities in the enforcement of those punitive laws.
So what isn’t good about the growing drive towards legalization in the United States?
One answer is simple: the ridiculously high cost of cannabis at dispensaries across the nation.
Want some news that’ll cheer you up?
You can do something about these prices (and that’s a relief in this stagflating economy). You can grow your own cannabis. And, if you do, you will save a lot of money.
Read on to learn more about why you may want to consider ditching the dispensaries and taking matters into your own hands—or green thumbs, as the case may be.
The Economics Of Buying Cannabis At A Dispensary
As you’ll see a bit later in this article, it’s no contest if price is your overriding concern; a home grow is a far better option than buying cannabis from a dispensary.
But, of course, you’ll need all the facts before you can make your own informed decision on cannabis cultivation.
One of the more noteworthy aspects about American cannabis dispensaries is how much of a difference there is in terms of their prices. And one of the biggest reasons for that is location. Specifically, the state in which a dispensary is located.
Naturally, other factors come into play that also drive up the cost of our friend the cannabis plant.
In many states (e.g. Illinois), there are high taxes on cannabis and a plethora of regulations.
Other states (e.g. Ohio) have a limited ability to distribute cannabis because they have chosen to bestow only a few licenses. That approach often increases the cost of cannabis, and can also lead to shortages, long waits, and frequent travel within the state in order to find product.
And we won’t name any names here, but some states may have an abundance of product and dispensaries, but they’re critically lacking in one major component: knowledge. Budtenders in these states may be poorly informed about cannabis.
Waiting for the punchline?
The cost of cannabis can be quite high in those states as well.
We understand that all this may sound more than a touch abstract. That’s why it’s time to break out the metric in question: the actual price of cannabis in the United States.
We’re not going to list the price of an ounce in every state. Instead, we’ll present enough data to show you the wide contrast in prices across the nation.
According to the Detroit Free Press, an ounce from a dispensary in Michigan costs between $242-$471.
According to the Dayton Daily News, an ounce from a dispensary in Ohio costs between $232-$371.
If we utilize the user-supported system at PriceofWeed.com, we’ll continue to find significant variation in cost: $336 for an ounce in New York, $258 for an ounce in California, $210 for an ounce in Oregon. And the site reports that the average price for an ounce in the U.S. is $318.
Let’s further demystify the price of cannabis. If we use the U.S. average for an ounce of cannabis (i.e. $318/oz.), then we can start to see what this would add up to annually for an average user.
USA Today has stated that the average cannabis user consumes 3.5 ounces per year. At a price of $318 for an ounce, their annual cost would end up at $1113 per year.
But what if you’re far from an average user of cannabis? What if you’re a heavy user? As in someone who consumes twelve ounces per year. What would twelve ounces of cannabis cost from the average American dispensary?
The answer is a whopping $3816.
One last bit of mathematics here: What would the cost be over five years for that heavy cannabis user?
$19,080. Ouch. I’m confident that we can do better…
The Economics of Growing Your Own Cannabis
Just like with buying cannabis from dispensaries, there’s a high level of variance in the cost of your home grow.
However, instead of licenses, taxes, regulations, and supply being a few of the factors that impact the price of cannabis, there are a whole new set of variables of which growers should be aware.
These variables that can raise or lower the cost of growing your own cannabis include your setup, grow style, plant genetics, total plant count, and the cost of cannabis in your area.
That said, there are still averages which we can use to determine the expected amount of money you’d save by growing your own cannabis.
Although before we get down to brass tacks, it is important to cover one factor that may lead to sticker shock for some prospective growers: the cost to set up your grow.
The good news is that this can be under a thousand dollars.
Even if your setup costs aren’t quite that low, the average setup expenses for growers come out to only around $1600 for the first year, with an ongoing cost of around $400 each year.
Why don’t we get into the specifics? It’s time to start breaking down the exact costs of an average indoor grow setup.
An average setup (and electricity costs)—inclusive of a tent or prepared space, lights, timers, and fans—will run you anywhere from $400 to $1500, depending on your specs. Full kits are available, or you can piece together your own. And remember that your setup is just a one-time investment.
You should expect to pay roughly $60 to $320 on consumables (such as substrate and nutrients) per year. This cost will vary depending on your grow style. Organic living soil is the most inexpensive option. But soilless options with specific nutes offer the most control of your grow.
Seeds or cuttings should cost no more than $210 for three high-quality feminized seed varieties.
As for your electricity, it is harder to give an estimate for that since it will vary based on your setup and location.
If you’re having any difficulty determining the appropriate setup for your needs, Goldleaf’s Grower Reference Cards can help with calculating your electrical output, CFM for airflow, and more.Here’s what you’re probably thinking: That’s all well and good, but how much cannabis can I grow for all the costs involved?
Don’t worry because we’ve got you covered.
According to the website I Love Growing Marijuana, an average indoor home grow in a small tent will net you around two to four ounces of cannabis per plant.
And, if you’re a home grower who is keeping a second area for a mother cannabis plant (all-time vegetative cycle), you can plan to harvest every three months.
That means an average yield can be between eight to sixteen ounces per year!
And if you want to maximize the amount of cannabis you grow, consider a Goldleaf Grow Planner to learn what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to your home grow approach.
Remember what the cost of an average ounce is in the United States?
In case you forgot (or just don’t feel like scrolling up), it’s $318.
How much cannabis can you obtain per year if you have your own little home grow operation? Anywhere between two to sixteen ounces.
Another way to put that is anywhere between $636 to $5088 worth of cannabis.
Let’s return to the example of the average cannabis user who partakes in 3.5 ounces per year.
A grow of 3.5 ounces is worth $1113. Taking away the $1500 in startup expenses, you’d only have a loss of around $400 if you choose the cannabis cultivation route. That’s still better than buying at a dispensary.
Now imagine that you’re a heavy user of cannabis who consumes twelve ounces per year. That would cost $3816 in an average American dispensary. However, you’d have a positive return on investment of more than $2000 if you grow your own.
And how much would it cost the hardcore cannabis user over five years if they bought solely from dispensaries? The answer is a frightening $19,080.
We promise this is the last bit of math in this article: What are the expected costs of a home grow operation over five years?
$1500 (first year) + $400 (every year for the next four years) = $3100, a disparity of $15,980. That's a clear win for growers.
You don’t have to be a math whiz to comprehend the clear financial benefit that comes with a home grow.
Sure, the additional work involved with growing cannabis might be less than appealing to some people.
But for all of us who love to garden or just like to save a lot of money, the decision is simple; it’s time to grow our own!
If you have any trouble with doing just that, Goldleaf offers a host of products to help you grow better cannabis.
Our Grow Planner and Grower Reference Cards can save you a ton of hardships and simplify the cannabis cultivation process for you.Happy growing!