Cannabis 101 

Cannabis education and information on ways to consume, how to grow or harvest, and more.

Costs of Growing Cannabis at Home vs. Buying Bud at a Dispensary

Cannabis traditionally has been produced on a small scale to evade the law for decades. As a result, many people have connections to someone who has dabbled in cultivation. With the legal market, however, consumers now can purchase an array of products without considering cultivation, much like grocery store produce. Grocery stores are supplied by farms that take care of the cultivation for us and grow a product at a reasonable price. This is, for the most part, also true for cannabis, but let’s take a look at the numbers and see how the finances compare between growing your own supply and buying it from a medical dispensary or an adult use retail store.

How Much Does Cannabis Cost at a Store or Dispensary?

The ability to walk into a store and purchase any number of cannabis products is a luxury that should not be taken for granted. Flowers, concentrates, and edibles that range in potency, flavor, effect, and smell fill the shelves of your average shop. Many of the products require expensive machinery and a high level of skill to produce. The diversity of flower and quality genetics is something most consumers could not dream of 20 years ago. However, these products are subject to high taxes and regulations that make packaging and distribution expensive.

Costs Estimates of Store Bought Cannabis
Costs Estimates of Store-Bought Cannabis (click to enlarge)

How Much Does It Cost to Grow Your Own Cannabis?

Growing your own product has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Taking cultivation into your own hands gives you complete control of the products used to grow your cannabis, giving you full knowledge of the process and a better understanding of the plant. It also allows you to explore growing techniques, genetics, harvest times, and curing strategies. This all requires time and effort, but sharing the fruits of your labor with your friends and family is unparalleled.

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However, at the same time, it’s also important to realize the difficulties that can arise from growing your own cannabis. Pests, mold, and other diseases can rapidly sabotage a grow and leave you with a bad crop. Additionally, if you’re completely new to growing, you could make some costly mistakes as you learn through trial and error how to raise healthy crops with strong yields.

If you’re curious about the approximate costs of growing your own cannabis at home, keep in mind that the pricing varies between growing indoors vs. outdoors, as well as the size of the space in which you’re choosing to grow.

Growing Cannabis Indoors

For our indoor cannabis grow cost estimates, the space we calculated costs for is a 6 ft by 6 ft grow space. We’re using soil as our growing medium, and only one room will be used for both vegetative growth and for flowering. Also, let’s assume we’re in a temperate climate where the use of A/C will not be necessary, which will save us some energy costs.

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Not included in the price estimates is the cannabis plants themselves. For this exercise, we’ll use six clones to save space and reduce our vegetative growth time. A single clone can cost between $10-$30, but higher-quality clones can be more expensive. Our plants will spend around a month in vegetative growth and around 8-10 weeks flowering.

Cost Estimates of Growing Cannabis Indoors

EquipmentCost (USD)
Built grow space (6 ft x 6 ft)$250
1000 watt light setup (ballast, HPS bulb, hood)$200-$600
Metal halide bulb$30-$100
6-inch inline fan$80-$200
Carbon filter$85-$120
Six 10 gallon pots$20-$40
Two 30 gallon water tanks$50-$100
60 gallons of soil$60
Nutrient starter kit$50-$100
Hardware (trellising, zip ties, stakes)$50
3.5 months of electricity to power equipment$700
TOTAL COST RANGE:$1,575 to $2,320
AVERAGE COST:$1,948

With a 1000-watt bulb, ideally you could produce up to a gram per watt. Realistically, as an enthusiast starting out, you might find yourself anywhere between that and a half gram per watt. This assumes you avoid pests and disease, and you feed your plants to keep them healthy. You should set aside an hour or more a day to observe and work in the garden to keep your plants happy.

Small Closet Grow

If a 6 ft x 6 ft space is unrealistic, you can consider growing in a much smaller space using a grow tent kit. The grow tents dimensions start at 2x2x5 ft and get more expensive the larger you go. You can buy a 2’x2’x5’ kit for under $1,000 that includes everything you’ll need to grow cannabis besides the soil and plants themselves. A kit will allow you to grow two to four plants in one to three gallon pots. In a space this size, you would most likely use a 400-600 watt light and have a return ratio similar to the larger 6 ft x 6 ft room.

Cost Estimates of a Small Closet Cannabis Grow

EquipmentCost
2'x2'x5' grow kit$900
Four 3 gallon pots$20
20 gallons of soil$20
TOTAL COST:$940

Growing Cannabis Outdoors

Growing cannabis outdoors can be a very simple startup process. The largest concern is the climate in which you live. It needs to be sunny and dry enough to promote growth and prevent rot. Additionally, it needs to stay sunny and warm long enough into the fall to allow the plants to finish flowering. Growing in a greenhouse can help with the temperature and moisture-related issues with cultivation, but climate still dictates your ability to grow outdoors.

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For this estimate, we will assume you are growing in a climate where the plants can be outside from the start of the season (July) to the end of the season (October). Again, we will use clones to start (which are not included in our cost estimates).

Cost Estimates of Growing Cannabis Outdoors

EquipmentCost
45 gallon smart pots (5 count)$80-$140
Soil (20 gallons, 12 count)$300-$500
Soil amendments$100-$200
Nutrients$150-$500
Watering tank (250 gallons)$500
Mixing tank (50 gallons)$100
Water pump $200-$600
Hardware (trellising, zip ties, stakes hoses, valves)$400
TOTAL COST RANGE:$1,830-$2,940
AVERAGE COST:$2,385

High yields of quality product can be produced outdoors. A plant grown in a 50-gallon pot should net you between 1-2 lbs of flower. You’ll need to consider the cost of the time you will put into your garden; an hour a day on average should allow you to take care of your plants. Some days will require nearly no time while others will require more. Also, the property required to grow outdoor cannabis is a factor. Most people growing outside do so on large properties for security reasons and odor issues.

Keep in mind that many of these costs will be lower in simpler, smaller gardens. Growing a plant or two in your yard can cost very little, especially if you already own much of the equipment from growing other types of plants and produce. Of course, many of these startup materials can be re-used for your next harvest as well.

Estimated Price Per Gram of Indoor and Outdoor Cannabis Grows

YieldCostPrice Per Gram
Indoor 6'x6' - 500 grams$1,948$3.90
Indoor 6'x6' - 1,000 grams$1,948$1.95
Indoor 2'x2' - 200 grams$940$4.70
Indoor 2'x2' - 400 grams$940$2.35
Outdoor - 2,000 grams$2,385$1.19
Outdoor - 4,000 grams$2,385$0.60

Looking at these totals, you’ll find that growing can be done for a much lower price than purchasing your product at the store. However, labor and property are not included in these costs. Someone will have to check in on the garden daily and spend time pruning, trimming, feeding, watering, and monitoring the plants for signs of disease, rot, or mold. Growing cannabis is strenuous and can be difficult, but if you’re looking for a new hobby and have the time to dedicate to growing, you might find yourself saving money and enjoying yourself.

Labor Costs and Their Impact on Price Per Gram

When including estimated labor costs of $20 per day for the growing period, the prices change significantly. (We adjusted the labor time needed for the 2’x2′ space at $10 per day because the size of the space is much more manageable.)

  • Indoor 6’x6′ space: $140 per week x 14 weeks = $1,960
  • Indoor 2’x2′ space:  $70 per week x 14 weeks = $980
  • Outdoor space: $140 per week x 20 weeks = $2,800

Estimated Price Per Gram of Home Grows Including Labor

YieldCost (Including Labor)Price Per Gram
Indoor - 500 grams$3,908$7.82
Indoor - 1,000 grams$3,908$3.91
Indoor 2'x2' - 200 grams$1,920$9.60
Outdoor - 2,000 grams$5,185$2.59
Outdoor - 4,000 grams$5,185$1.30

Reflecting on the costs between purchasing cannabis and growing your own in addition to the benefits that each method has to offer might have you clearly leaning to one side or stuck in a stalemate. Cannabis is not cheap or easy to grow, and chances are you will get higher quality, more diverse products at the local shop. However, if you want to explore producing your own crop and if it feels less like labor and more like a hobby, then perhaps a personal garden is the way to go.