There’s a lot to be said for dispensaries in today’s world. Now that cannabis is legal in Canada and parts of the United States, growers have been able to take their operations public, and begin their work on a much larger scale. The quality and diversity of cannabis has risen, and we all get to benefit from it.
Unfortunately, buying all of your product from a dispensary can get expensive, especially if you consume our favorite herb regularly. Dispensaries have to pay high taxes on cannabis, and regulations raise the cost of production. Those costs get passed on to the consumer. Growing your own cannabis means you get to avoid those additional charges, but growing has its own costs as well. How much money will you really save? There are a lot of variables at play, so let’s do the math.
Outdoor Startup Costs
To get started growing cannabis, you’re going to need some equipment. This is a little tricky, though, because the outdoor startup cost can vary widely. If you’re growing outside in an appropriate climate, you can simply buy some seeds (~$40), soil (~$10), and some cannabis nutrients ($65) and spend less than $150 to harvest a few ounces a plant. This is usually enough for the average grower with a backyard or patio.
However, growing in optimal conditions outdoors could allow you to harvest up to 18 ounces per plant – but this will require that you spend more money on water, soil, fertilizer, and equipment. You can choose to skimp on other supplies like water pumps and a watering tank, but it might take much longer to water your plants, and the cost of time should be considered as well.
Altogether, a really nice setup for outdoor growing will likely cost you around $2-3000 including a greenhouse to protect your plants from adverse conditions.
Indoor Startup Costs
The price range on an indoor setup is similarly wide. If you are growing a small number of plants (and don’t mind the smell) you can forgo carbon filters and quality ventilation and put together a low-end setup for as little as $450.
A more full-featured professional setup will, once again, have a higher yield, but will also cost you between $1400 and $2400 to put together.
We have bundled together some basic grow tent kits that include nutrients, light, and planters. You can grow other plants in these tents right next to your cannabis, hot peppers do especially well in tents like these. Add on a carbon filter and fan kit to get the most out of it.
Costs of Operation
After your initial investment in the equipment and you start growing, there are some recurring costs. These will be the cost of electricity, water, and your own labor – you might not actually be paying yourself, but your plants will need time and attention, so there is an opportunity cost.
The most expensive recurring cost will be electricity, which will likely cost $25-60 per month. Using LED lights will help lower your power consumption they also have a longer lifespan than a HPS bulb.
Across Canada, you can buy an ounce of cannabis at a dispensary for around $200, as a broad average. Leafly has a great table that shows how much it costs to grow a gram of cannabis in various setups. Assuming that a gram costs $7, growing your own should save you $4 per gram, at least. And that’s regardless of what setup you use! Of course, it may take some time to recoup your initial investment, but growing your own cannabis can save you a ton of money long-term.
The average price for an ounce of marijuana is $200 or $6-$7 a gram. An ounce of homegrown cannabis will cost around $3 a gram or $84-90 an ounce.
How to Keep Costs Down
Growing cannabis can be expensive, especially if you opt for a more sophisticated setup. Here are some tips to help keep costs down without compromising on quality:
- Avoid pre-made grow boxes. If you choose to use a grow box, you can usually build your own for about half the cost of purchasing one that was pre-made.
- Use LED lights instead of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). LEDs are more energy efficient, and they also produce less heat, which means you’ll have a decreased need for air conditioning.
- Speaking of air conditioning, set up an exhaust system. At its simplest, this can be a fan that pushes hot air out of your grow room. It’s a lot cheaper than keeping the A/C running!
- If you have the opposite problem and your grow room is too cold, try insulating your grow room or using a bigger, hotter grow light. That will be cheaper than running a heater.
- Train your plants. This is really cheap – all you need are some twist ties or twine – and it can dramatically increase your yields.
Cannabis growing can be expensive, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. You can start with a minimal setup and see if you like it before moving up to a more sophisticated system. Just remember to plan your grow space carefully ahead of time so it will be as cost effective as possible!
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