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Grow your own cannabis at home. Good idea?

The smell, people's attitudes...there is much to consider around growing your own cannabis plants at home.
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Even if it's legal, there are pros and cons to growing your own cannabis plants. Read on. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Did you know Canadians are allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per residence for personal use from licensed seeds? Whether you're an avid marijuana user or are just curious about growing your own, now that it's legal, there are things to know. We asked gardening expert Jim Hole, vice president of cultivation with Atlas Growers, to fill us in on what to consider when growing your own cannabis plants.

Q: Why are people interested in growing their own cannabis plants?

Hole: Some are interested in the novelty of it, now that it's legal to grow a few indoor or outdoor plants. Many wouldn't even consider it, largely because of the smell, but others might want to see what's involved.

Q:  What are the considerations for home growers?

Hole: For legal cannabis growing, you have to grow it for your own consumption, not to sell or give to someone else. Because it's so pungent, you may also want to let neighbours know you're growing it for your own purposes, and to ensure plants can't be seen from outside your yard or house. You also want to limit the marijuana smells coming from your production site.

Q: It sounds like smell is a big issue.

Hole: Smell is the number one issue people would choose not to grow cannabis, its pungent aroma can be dampened somewhat, by choosing varieties that are less skunky, and with more of a citrus aroma. But you're still going to notice that smell if you walk into a home where cannabis is growing. That's the main deterrent for most people.

Q: So would you grow it as a houseplant?

Hole: You can, yes, but it's that smell that is an issue. You must grow cannabis from seed, and there are several reputable suppliers to provide that. Then you need equipment to grow indoors, such as a grow light and a greenhouse-style tent. As well, you need to ensure there is enough ventilation to remove excess moisture and humidity. Mold can build up on your plants or in the building.

Q: What about growing it outdoors?

Hole: Yes, that's an easier way to go, but we have only so many months a year to be able to do that. To get the flowers or buds that are wanted as cannabis, you need certain light conditions and definite periods of darkness--long summer days, so when we have shorter periods of daylight or frost coming as early as September, it limits the outdoor growth. Even when growing outside, you need to consider control measures like a heated garage and a tent/filtration system to control the fragrance. People might consider installing a tall fence with a locking gate or alarm system to keep a production area secure, because people do steal these plants.

Q: It sounds like a lot of trouble to grow cannabis, actually.

Hole: If it's your passion, you'll do it. But you want to consider what family members and neighbours have to say about it. Again, if you're into it, there are many varieties and levels of psychoactive compounds to learn about--it's a fascinating plant, and a drug, so lots to consider. I equate the hobby of growing your own cannabis to that of making your own wine. You need a bit of equipment and then, experiment to see if it's worth doing long-term. 

For more on all things cannabis, see aglc.ca