For close to 20 years in Nevada, before the establishment of legal medical marijuana dispensaries and the launch of recreational marijuana sales, the only way to get it legally was to grow your own medical marijuana.
Now, although regulations in Nevada regarding the possession, use, and cultivation of medical marijuana have changed to permit the sale, use, and distribution of recreational marijuana, demand is causing patients to consider growing their cannabis instead.
How to Grow Your First Medical Marijuana Plant
Before you begin you cannabis cultivating adventure, make sure you’re legally permitted to grow cannabis in your home state. In Nevada, for instance, those over the age of 21 can possess and grow:
- One ounce of marijuana flower
- One-eighth of an ounce (3.5 grams) of cannabis concentrate
- Up to six plants in a private residence, given that the nearest dispensary is 25 miles from their home
- Maximum of 12 plants per household, given that the nearest dispensary is more than 25 miles away
In Nevada, registered medical marijuana patients can possess and grow:
- No more than two and a half ounces of usable marijuana (this includes possessing, delivering, or producing cannabis)
- Maximum of marijuana plants total, given that the nearest dispensary is more than 25 miles from the nearest medical marijuana dispensary
Growing Your First Pot Plant
Now that you know your cannabis growing endeavor is legal, you’re ready to tackle the first hurdle of growing your medical marijuana plant: the mental one. Although there’s a learning curve to growing cannabis, the plant grows like a weed (pun intended).
Bear in mind that cannabis is a flowering plant, which means in nature, the plant bears fruit only once a year—during fall when days are shorter and colder. If you’re growing a pot plant indoors, you’ll want to control the light period of your grow to ensure that it gets at least 12 hours of light every day to keep the plant from flowering too soon.
If you don’t control your light cycles and your plant flowers too early, not only will there be less to harvest, but your grass will also be less potent. Ideally, your cannabis plant will have a few weeks to vegetate before flowering.
Lighting the way for your first cannabis plant
To make the most out of your first harvest, grow your seedling from 4-6 weeks before inducing flowering. During these first few weeks, the plant should get at least 16 hours of light a day, although 18-20 hours will ensure your lady doesn’t flower too soon. A strong lamp may be necessary to ensure the proper length of your plant’s photoperiod.
Typically, lamps and lighting equipment are the most expensive investment when it comes to starting to grow your medical marijuana; some options can fit any budget, especially if you’re just looking to grow one plant.
Serious growers must use specialized and expensive lamps, but a lamp for growing just one plant at home can be found at Lowe’s or Home Depot for around $25. For our purposes, a 250-watt high-intensity discharge bulb will do the trick. However, these bulbs require a specialized HID fixture or ballast you will need to purchase as well.
If you’re lucky enough to have a brightly lit corner or window in your home, you can use the natural power of the sun for most of the day and simply supplement fluorescent bulbs after sunset. Fluorescent bulbs like T5’s, T8’s and even CFL’s provide enough light to keep your cannabis plant in a vegetative state.
While your plant is maturing, make sure to monitor it regularly. Make sure your light source is strong and as consistent as possible, as the less intense the light, the less your plant will develop.
When it’s time to trigger your flowering cycle
Once your cannabis plant has grown and reached the point where she can produce enough flowers for harvest, you’ll want to shorten your light cycle from 16-18 hours to 12. During this 12 hour photoperiod of flowering, you will cycle your plant from intense light during the day to darkness at night to help maximize your harvest.
When it’s flowering time, your best bet is to move your plant to an enclosed location like a closet or cabinet where you can directly control your light cycle exactly as needed. You also want to be able to control the dark cycle during flowering as well. It’s very important that no light leaks into the plant space as these can disrupt the stress to the plant, forcing it to create seeded flowers, while also severely weakening crop yield and quality.
Tips and tricks to help grow your own medical marijuana
In addition to knowing where and how you will grow your first cannabis crop, you also want to consider different container types, growing mediums, and nutrients. Some of the best options for growing a medical marijuana plant are containers that offer breathability, like fabric pots. Any container you use should have drainage holes and saucers to catch run-off. Letting plants sit in stagnant water for an extended period of time will change Ph levels and attracts bugs and mold.
When it comes to planting your first cannabis plant, a small bag of organic potting soil will work perfectly, as will peat-, coco-, and sphagnum-based potting mediums. Whichever medium you choose to plant your cannabis in, make sure it will allow air (but not sunlight) to penetrate the root zone as roots breathe in oxygen, and the plant above the soil take in CO2.
Get Your Green without the Grow
As more Americans than ever are beginning to see the benefits of medical marijuana, not all potential patients or consumers have the time or resources to grow their cannabis plants. Make the most of you local resources and stop by a medical marijuana dispensary near you, today.