With so many states now friendly to recreational and medical cannabis, it would seem that a fair number of them would allow consumers to grow their own cannabis at home. But that is actually not the case. According to Leafly’s Pat Goggins, only 26 states allow home growing. And even at that, most limit the number of plants home growers can cultivate. So what’s the deal?
There seems to be no rhyme nor reason to home-grow prohibitions in states that allow for recreational use with no questions asked. On the other hand, it makes sense to limit home growing in medical-only states. The few remaining states that remain 100% prohibitionist speak for themselves in terms of outlawing home growing.
Still, why would fully recreational states limit growing your own cannabis? The debate rages. Some say it is for one reason, others say states are motivated by something else. Below are the top three reasons cited by experts in the field.
1. Association with the Illicit Market
The most often cited reason suggests that states adopt a negative view toward home-grown cannabis because of its association with the illicit market. As the thinking goes, allowing consumers to grow their own plants only increases the temptation of trying to sell those plans without being a licensed cultivator or dispensary owner.
Whether or not such fears are legitimate is also a matter of debate. Some say that growing cannabis is too difficult for the average user to make a go of it as a financial enterprise. And yet, the illicit market continues to thrive even in the most permissive states. Some state lawmakers apparently fear that allowing too much home growing will only fuel illicit sales.
2. The Desire to Tax
The second most cited reason is the desire to tax. This one actually makes a lot of sense. Whenever state governments have the opportunity to increase revenue by levying taxes, you can bet your bottom dollar they will. Taxation is what government does best.
Allowing unlimited home grow would absolutely put a dent in the retail market. In turn, this would reduce the tax revenues generated by retail sales. Even if taxation were the only issue, it is motivation enough for state lawmakers to restrict home growing.
3. Maintaining Product Integrity
Finally, it has been suggested that states limit home growing out of a desire to maintain product integrity. This makes perfect sense in a medical-only state. And yet there are states with medical-only programs that still do not allow patients to cultivate their own plants. Utah is one of them, according to the Pure Utah medical cannabis dispensary in Payson.
In defense of state lawmakers, they do not allow patients to buy the raw ingredients needed to compound their own prescription medications at home. Patients cannot produce their own blood pressure medications or antibiotics. Medications can only be produced by licensed pharmaceutical companies. Furthermore, those pharmaceutical companies must maintain strict standards of safety and purity.
Each of the three reasons cited in this post makes sense to some degree. But perhaps prohibiting home grow is not a matter of a single reason. Maybe it’s a combination of all three. There could be other reasons as well. To try to figure it all out is to try to understand how the government works. Good luck with that.
In the meantime, just know that most state laws prohibiting home-grown cannabis include severe penalties. If you are caught growing your own plants above and beyond what your state laws allow, you could face serious fines and even jail time. Is it worth the risk?