A s you may know, the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana across several states has enabled many consumers to become accustomed to purchasing cannabis from a dispensary. Even more intriguing though is the opportunity that legalization has created for adults and medical patients to cultivate cannabis in their own homes.
While the laws, limitations and regulations are different for each state, almost every state with some form of legalized marijuana does allow home cultivation to some extent. Even though it’s completely legal, some people do not take advantage of their right to grow cannabis due to the perception that it is too difficult, expensive or time-consuming.
Interesed in growing? Click here to purchase your own seeds and start growing today!
Don’t let the lack of ambition from others discourage you though. If done correctly, growing cannabis at home can be fun, simple and cost-effective! We believe everyone should have access to their own clean cannabis. That’s why we decided to bring you a comprehensive guide to growing marijuana, created specifically with beginner growers in mind.
With essential grow knowledge, you’ll learn the benefits and tips of different grow methods, how to maximize plant yields and grow times, the best harvesting, drying, curing methods and much more! Who’s ready to start their cannabis growing journey?
Part 1 – Understanding Marijuana Grow Mediums
Deep Water Culture Hydroponics
Before starting your cannabis grow, you must decide if you want an indoor growing system or an outdoor growing system. When it comes to indoor growing mediums, DWC, or deep water culture, is a type of hydroponic growing method where each plant’s roots are growing in a tub of water.
One of the main benefits of a DWC system is that it promotes faster growth. Unlike growing cannabis in soil, roots grown in DWC don’t need to expend energy to search for what the plant needs; nutrients are easily accessible by the roots.
Plants have an unlimited supply of oxygen because of added oxygen from the air stone in the reservoir. Since the plant is spending less energy finding what it needs to grow, it channels that energy to plant growth. In addition, with proper guidance and a quality set up, DWC takes less time to maintain than an average grow.
When implementing a DWC system, a bubbler bucket reservoir system is recommended.
A bubbler bucket reservoir is a simple system that suspends the plant’s roots in a highly oxygenated nutrient solution. The roots are submerged in the nutrient-water solution in the bucket and are then replenished, as needed.
The most important growing tip is to check on your cannabis plants daily. As with many processes, the easiest way to fix a problem is in the beginning stages! If something is wrong with your plant in a DWC system, your first step in remedying your plant should always be to change out the reservoir. It is common for root rot to occur when roots are consistently in water, therefore, it is imperative to establish a preventative routine of changing out the reservoir every seven days. Adding beneficial bacteria to the reservoir is also effective in avoiding and combating root rot.
When growing from seeds in DWC, use each reservoir port (or net cup) to vegetate, then pick the strongest looking females to continue growing.
Keeping air and water temperatures under control are also very important measures to take. Air temperature should be 75-85°F when the lights are on and will drop by 10 degrees when the lights are off. Water temperature should remain at a constant temperature at all times. Your empty portholes can be used to change out the reservoir water by using a pump, allowing you to easily inspect what’s going on inside.
A common mistake to avoid when growing with DWC is not checking the pH levels of the water. This is important for any grow! Dirty reservoirs or not using an aerator 24/7 are two additional crucial mistakes, as roots must have excessive oxygen so they don’t drown. While some people like to maintain a completely sterile reservoir with just nutrients and water and no traces of anything alive, there are some good sources of beneficial bacteria that can be added. Bad bacteria is obviously, bad, but we wanted to emphasize the possibility of bacteria that can benefit your grow. To avoid potentially harmful bacteria, be proactive about changing the reservoir water.
In addition, having too many plants in one reservoir can lead to problems such as white powdery mildew. Don’t cramp your plants, instead, we recommend growing one plant per reservoir to allow the roots to spread out and give the leaves and buds more space.
Setting up a water transfer pump for this task can speed up the process. For best results, learn how to flush your cannabis plants.
Flushing your plants by removing any nutrients and salts improves the quality and taste of your final product. By simply draining your bubbler bucket reservoir and adding plain (pH neutral) water for two-three days before harvest, the plant will use all its existing nutrients contained in the stems, leaves and buds.
Growing Cannabis with Coco Coir
Coco coir is another great growing method, especially for beginners. It provides the ease of soil gardening with the rapid growth of hydroponics by using fibrous coconut husks instead of a potting mix. Compared to just soil growing, it absorbs moisture much easier, allowing plants to take up more nutrients and retain oxygen more efficiently because of its lighter texture. It also provides a forgiving buffer by reducing shock stress when human errors are made, such as adding too many nutrients, a common mistake.
Coco is much easier to flush than DWC because you aren’t changing an entire water reservoir. In fact, watering coco coir is very versatile. You can use a flood and drain hydroponic system, which is when the nutrient system temporarily floods from beneath the plant, controlled by a pump and timer, instead of dripping from above like most hydroponic systems. You can also use the most recognized top water to waste system, which is simply taking a water pail and watering your plant until water comes out of the bottom of the pot.
When growing cannabis with coco, good quality coco coir makes an immense difference, especially regarding root development. For beginner growers, a three-to-one coco to perlite mixture is recommended as it requires less watering frequency and holds moisture and nutrients better.
For more experienced growers, a one-to-one coco to perlite ratio is recommended as you are able to water more frequently, giving the plant more nutrient uptake and allowing more aggressive root growth.
With coco, water around the outside of the pot in early stages of growth to encourage roots to reach out and fill up the entire container.
Some common mistakes can occur when growing with coco if a grower allows the coco to get too dry, as the mixture dries quickly. Not checking the pH of the nutrient-water solution and not flushing on a consistent basis are also critical errors, as you are using more nutrients with coco and the excess residual nutrients can cause common nutrient deficiency symptoms.
It’s also very important to use Cal-Mag, or Calcium and Magnesium, in your coco growing medium. Calcium plays a direct role in a plant’s root development, nutrient uptake and protein synthesis. Magnesium is an essential part of chlorophyll production, helping your plants with photosynthesis, as well as aiding in the synthesis of sugars and proteins. Together, the correct amount of magnesium and calcium will help keep your cannabis plant healthy.
Outdoor soil growing is a common gardening technique that most people with house plants or vegetable gardens are familiar with. Using techniques such as top-fed watering, deep irrigation or wicks are all viable methods to water your plants. You can either use organic, composted soil, or store-bought soil with added liquid nutrients.
To make organic soil, you need a mixture of biolive, alfalfa meal, oyster shell for calcium, blood meal and bone meal, humic acid to keep the roots clean, and kelp. With store bought soil, use organic nutrients and start adding them about three weeks into the vegetative stage. With synthetic nutrients, you must flush them out regularly. Flood the soil with as much fresh water as it can withstand and leave it for a few minutes to allow the nutrients to be picked up, then flood it again to get the nutrients away from the plant.
Always remember, less is more with non-organic nutrients. If you are adding nutrients, a good rule-of-thumb is to add them about once a week.
A benefit to outdoor soil growing is that if you have a good base-soil built up, it’s not necessary to add nutrients throughout the plant’s life cycle. That means less work for you! It is also likely that the smell and flavor profiles of your buds will increase as well.
A common mistake when growing outdoors is overwatering. Wait to water your plants until the first three inches or so, or about knuckle depth, of soil is dry. You can gauge your soil by pulling the container it is in slightly outwards. Not checking the pH after mixing nutrients, or using nutrients too frequently are also common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.
Don’t use miracle grow or other similar slow release soils. Your plants will not get the correct amount of nitrogen needed during vegetation and they will receive too much nitrogen during flowering.
Part 2: Learning Cannabis Grow and Plant Maintenance Techniques
Growers have recorded a plethora of marijuana growing techniques over the years to ensure you make the most of your crop. If you want to maximize yield and maximize the amount of light your cannabis plant receives, it is important to practice bending and securing parts of the plant, or removing parts of the plant altogether. While there are many different methods, it is important to note which ones will be the most sustainable for your growing medium.
Bending & Securing Your Cannabis Plants
Screen of Green (ScrOG)
One technique for bending and securing parts of marijuana plants is ScrOG, or Screen of Green. ScrOG is perfect for an indoor grower who is only growing a small number of plants. In places like Colorado, for example, this method is ideal as the legal growing limit is three flowering plants at a time.
ScrOG is designed to optimize the energy from a light by creating an even canopy space where bottom growth of the plant is forced upward to form a flat canopy. By spreading out the canopy and growing the plant horizontally until a few weeks into the flowering stage, more main cola budding sites will take place. The canopy of one plant can be grown as large as a four-foot canopy.
New to growing cannabis? Don’t worry, our beginner’s guide to growing marijuana will help you through the process. From seed to harvest, we have you covered with tips, tricks and step-by-step procedures.
So You Want to Start a Cannabis Business: Advice for the Absolute Beginner
Interested in starting a business in the cannabis industry? I can’t blame you—business is booming and there’s the potential to make huge profits as this sector continues to grow exponentially.
Over half of the United States already have legalized cannabis in some form—that’s 29 states plus the District of Columbia. Many states have only legalized cannabis for medical use, but that’s gradually changing as well. Currently, one in five Americans lives in a state where they can use cannabis recreationally, without a doctor’s note.
In 2016, marijuana sales in North America grew by a massive 30 percent, and sales are projected to reach $20.2 billion by 2021 . This is a huge deal, especially considering the industry is still in its infantile stages. There are still many gaps waiting to be filled by those who are forward-thinking and innovative enough to realize this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
That said, the path to a successful cannabis business is not a smooth and easy one to navigate—it’s full of confusing laws and regulations, steep taxes, and many other unforeseeable roadblocks and hoops to jump through. That’s why we asked cannabis industry experts (who already have successful and profitable businesses!) for their top advice on starting a “cannabusiness.” Their tips and information will give you a clearer road map and allow you to be more prepared for your exciting journey ahead.
Come up with a unique idea
When starting a business in any industry, having a unique idea that fills an unmet need is crucial to becoming a success.
First, you’ll need to decide which sector of the marijuana industry to go into. Generally, when someone thinks about types of cannabis businesses, dispensaries and grow operations usually come to mind.
Many see huge dispensaries in Colorado, for example, raking in big bucks. But this can actually be the riskiest business area to choose, with the tightest profit margins. As the legal use of marijuana continues to grow across the U.S., the price of weed will continue to go down, leaving those with grow-ops and dispensaries with fewer profits as time goes on. They’re also the ones to be hit hardest with a sea of strict rules and regulations. On top of all of that, banks still refuse to work with businesses that grow or distribute marijuana because it is still illegal under federal law.
This is sure to change eventually, but for now, you will still need to fundraise enough capital without any loan assistance. How much? Many states require proof of at least $1 million in available cash to obtain a dispensary license. You should also keep in mind that you won’t be able to keep your profits safely stored in a bank account. All businesses that directly deal with cannabis are forced to keep their capital in cold hard cash, which is obviously highly inconvenient and dangerous—though some have been getting around this issue using cryptocurrencies like bitcoin to keep their funds more secure.
But the cannabis industry is much more than just grow operations and dispensaries. If you’re a foodie, perhaps look into making a unique edibles line. There are even people opening up “bud and breakfasts”—cannabis-friendly lodging (some even provide marijuana-infused oil massage—sign me up!).
But truly, the least risky kind of cannabis business to start is one that doesn’t directly touch the controversial plant at all. According to the Controlled Substances Act , the bulk of the regulations for businesses in the cannabis industry are only applicable to cannabis growers, processors, and sellers. This is why ancillary marijuana businesses are doing so well—they aren’t burdened with all the red tape and high taxes. From hydroponics and cultivation products to professional training and education, consultancies, media companies, the plethora of new technologies—the list is endless, and so are the opportunities.
If you’re technical and a savvy inventor, you could design a product that helps marijuana user process or ingest their medicine—think about all the fancy vape pens that have been coming out, or the rosin presses that easily extract solvent-free oil from bud or trim.
Mike Bologna, CEO of Green Lion Partners , a Denver-based business strategy firm focused on early-stage development amongst firms in the cannabis industry, explains how essential a viable business idea is for aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs:
“When considering starting a business in the cannabis industry, entrepreneurs must first ensure their concept is legally viable and offers a unique solution for the space.
Too frequently, a concept is exciting but cannot be supported within the legal framework or is simply a recycled concept that is reliant upon ‘first mover’ advantage in their jurisdiction.
For long-term scalable success, a company must be able to withstand the dynamic regulations and business factors in this rapidly changing space.”
Marijuana Business Daily put out a useful chart showing the profitability of each type of cannabis business— take a look here .
Understand your consumer base
Once you have a winning idea, it’s vital to know who is going to be interested in your products or services and to deeply understand their particular wants and needs.
Bethany Gomez is director of research for Brightfield Group , a cannabis-focused market research firm providing accurate and comprehensive consumer, brand, and market insights in the industry. Here’s what she has to say on the matter:
“When starting a cannabis business, two things are crucial: understanding the unique challenges of this industry and understanding your consumer base and the unmet need you are filling for them.
The cannabis industry is unlike any industry you have ever worked in, and the regulatory, supply chain, banking, taxation, advertising, and stigma aspects of the business eat your profits and draw your attention away from core aspects of your business.
The legal cannabis space is becoming crowded and targeted consumer segmentation is increasingly important, so it’s key to understand who your core consumers are and what they want from their products.”
So get out there and do research on how you can ensure your future customers are happy and satisfied with what you offer them. Really get to know and understand them. Build a relationship with them. Do this, and you will develop a loyal consumer base.
Krista Whitley, CEO of Altitude Products , a Las Vegas-based conglomerate of cannabis companies such as Social Media Unicorn, a canna-brand marketing and sales agency, and the Vegas Weekend Box, a monthly variety box of Las Vegas’ top cannabis products, agrees that a good relationship with your consumers is essential:
“Success in the cannabis industry is uniquely tied to the connection and brand that leadership has with the local cannabis community.
It doesn’t matter if you’re starting your cannabis business in Washington, Colorado, or Maine; you should start by building authentic relationships with your local cannabis community.”
Know the rules (and follow them!)
Even if you have a brilliant business plan, plenty of funding, and excited consumers that want what you’re offering, if you don’t play by the rules, you’re going to get shut down, get hefty fines, and could even go to jail. Let’s try to avoid that, yes?
The laws, rules, and regulations for opening a cannabis business are incredibly confusing and complex. For example, even setting up a means of accepting payments can be tricky (so make sure you read this article on accepting payments as a cannabis business to learn more about your options). It’s recommended to hire an experienced attorney to aid you in navigating this process to make sure your business is legit.
“Both medical and adult-use businesses require, in most states, a license to operate, which is generally valid in just one state. Thus, your plan needs to comply with state law. The application process will give you a roadmap and likely where you can operate,” explains Norman Olson, director of marketing and Business Affairs at Hightech Extracts , an engineering company developing systems for the manufacturing of extract-based products. “Funding and differentiating your service or brand will definitely help. Pick any consultant you engage only after thorough reference and background checks. Smoking a joint does not make you a cannabis expert!”
If you are irresponsible with your new cannabusiness, not only can this cause huge problems for you, but also for the cannabis industry as a whole. When businesses are performing reckless practices, it hurts the reputation of this new industry that still has many negative stigmas against it from the wider public.
Arnaud Dumas de Rauly, chief strategy officer for The Blinc Group, the first business incubator for brands specializing in vaporizer and cannabis consumption technologies, advises new cannabis-related businesses to understand the space and pay close attention to industry best practices:
“The cannabis industry is new and not yet fully regulated, making it very important for people entering the space to get in touch with their local institutions and industry groups and follow their guidance wisely.
The vaping industry was in a similar position a few years ago, and it’s now facing huge regulatory challenges, some specifically caused by entrepreneurs that didn’t take the time to do things right when first setting up their businesses, such as not acquiring licenses, using bad branding , labeling, and sales channels, and marketing to children .
For the cannabis industry to grow properly, it’ll need to avoid giving extra ammunition to regulatory agencies and opposition groups that seek to destroy it.”
Raise enough capital
With any startup, investment capital is crucial to getting your business plan off the ground. Some investors don’t want to put their money into cannabis businesses since it’s still illegal under federal law. And, as stated earlier, forget about asking the bank to fund your marijuana business. Focus on finding some great private investors. While some are still wary, there are many investors out there excited about how fast the marijuana industry is exploding with growth, and they want in on the action. Look here and here for starters.
Dr. Andrew Kerklaan, president and founder of Dr. Kerklaan Therapeutics , a robust line of doctor-designed, lab-tested, patient-approved cannabis products that provide pain relief, sleep aid, PMS relief, and skin health, agrees:
“The days of bootstrapping a start-up in the cannabis industry are quickly coming to an end, if not already over.
My advice is to raise smart money with investors who can bring experience and expertise from other industries to the table. Raise enough capital to quickly be able to compete.”
Work hard and have fun!
It’s a very exciting time to get involved in the cannabis industry. There are boundless opportunities to collaborate with a huge variety of businesses.
Hopefully, now you have more of a solid idea of what it takes to start a business in the marijuana industry. Those willing to work hard and play by the rules have the potential to be extremely successful. Follow these guidelines and you will be well on your way to having a profitable business in the cannabis industry. Good luck!
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The cannabis industry is huge and continues to grow. If you’re interested in starting a cannabis business, here’s how to start and what to keep in mind.