Costs of Growing Your Own vs. Buying Weed at a Dispensary

By Aaron M.
Now that it’s as easy as going to your local corner store to buy weed, is growing your own marijuana at home even worth it? This article examines the costs of growing your own marijuana compared to legally purchasing it from a dispensary.

If you’re lucky enough to live in state, or country, where recreational marijuana is legalized congratulations! Getting your stash refilled is now as easy as going down to your local pot shop.

In places with a large supply of legal weed, the price per gram is probably pretty low. For example, in Oregon, there’s actually a million pound surplus of marijuana. There, you can get the best organic, sun-grown strains on the market for $5-$10 a gram retail!

In other places where the supply hasn’t caught up with demand, such as Puerto Rico, prices are still pretty high for legal weed, especially compared to black market prices.

Even if you only needed an ounce or so per month, that cost adds up over time. The expensive costs of both legal and black market ganja has many wondering if it’s cheaper to just grow your own weed at home?

How Much Does Weed Cost At A Dispensary

Honestly, for a plant that grows in abundance, marijuana is expensive. The legal shops are great because you get to compare strains by everything from price to potency. Plus, the bud is typically tested for contaminants and toxins.

Most of us are used to buying bud on the black market though. Prices are just as expensive on the street, but in this case, you don’t really get to shop around. What you get is what you get typically. Could growing your own weed be cheaper than buying it?

So how much does weed cost in a dispensary? Not only do dispensaries have flower, but they also carry marijuana products such as concentrates and edibles. All of which come in assorted potencies and flavors with varying effects. 

However, regulations, taxes and the high cost of machinery, processing, packaging, and distributing keep the prices on premium products high.

Expect to pay anywhere between $175-$360 or more for an ounce of marijuana in a state that has legalized cannabis. For edibles and concentrates expect to fork out premium prices from $30-$70 per gram.

Could you grow better weed or are your edibles better than what you find on dispensary shelves?

How Much Does It Cost To Grow Your Own Weed

What’s the biggest cost of growing your own weed? Well, for starters if it’s illegal the cost could be risking your freedom. The next biggest costs are going to be your time and labor. Then, if you’re growing indoors expect to pay up for some quality lights or a grow tent kit.

You also have to factor in the fact that, at first, you might not be able to grow marijuana that’s as good as what is in the dispensary. You could invest a lot into your home grow only to have it be devastated by mold or a pest invasion causing you to lose your entire harvest.

Indoor Cost for Home Growers

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Indoor home grows are vastly more expensive than growing outdoors. This is mainly due to the cost of electricity and quality grow lights. Outdoor, in my opinion, is superior anyway, but not everyone has the luxury to plant under the sun and stars. 

The benefit of growing indoors, while costly, is that you can get a harvest in about 3 months. And you can essentially automate the process, which means less time, work, and energy input from the grower.

For larger indoor home grows, let’s use an example of a 6 ft. x 6 ft. space, such as a garage area or grow tent. With everything you have to buy indoors to make it worth your while, you’re going to end up spending anywhere from $1,500-$2,000.

It’s possible to do it for less money, but to optimize a thirty-six square foot space for growing big buds you’re going to need to invest.

Ideally, with an optimized grow space running a 1,000-watt bulb you could get a 1,000-gram harvest. But, it’s more likely novice growers will average somewhere around half a gram per watt.

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It’s also more likely that the novice grower will be starting out with a smaller grow tent kit about 2x2x5 ft. in size. The returns will be approximately the same for both setups, and obviously, the larger the set up the greater the cost. A bigger setup means more work, but bigger yields.

Outdoor vs. Indoor Cost to Grow Weed

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Growing weed outdoors is a whole other beast. It’s a lot cheaper to get started and you can grow buckets more weed in one harvest. But, you have to wait for most of the summer and fall until you can reap your rewards.

Depending on how big you want to grow, getting started outdoors could be free, or cost a few hundred dollars up to thousands. For the sake of our juxtaposition, let’s say you have two to three plants, each in 50-gallon smart pots. 

If all goes well, you could be harvesting 3-6 pounds of heady herb come fall! That’d be more than enough to last for several years if you’re using an ounce per month. 

The downside is that you won’t have fresh herb, it takes longer, and you have to manage much larger plants. Since there are so many variables that go into determining the cost and profitability of home grows, I’m going to suggest that in this case, the cost of your outdoor crop could be as little as a tenth of the cost of your indoor setup.

Bottom Line 

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Let’s say you consume about an ounce of weed per month. If you spend on average $225 per ounce, your annual weed bill would be about $2,700.

Now let’s say you grow your own weed in a small grow tent that’s big enough for 2-3 plants at an all-in-all cost of around $1,000. It’ll take about 3 months, but if you’re a great grower you could harvest between half a pound to one pound of weed.

Outdoors, you could be growing at least a pound from 2-3 plants with an extremely low investment, compared to indoor.

Regardless if your grow is indoor or outdoor, it’s more likely that you’ll be producing a quarter pound to half a pound per 2-3 plants until you really get your schedules and nutrients optimized.

Still, you’d be paying $3,600 or more at the dispensary for a pound! With a $1,000 setup, any newbie grower could totally produce about a 4-month supply, or a quarter pound per crop, three times per year. 

If you were growing in a bigger space, like the garage or large grow tent, you could double those numbers!

The bottom line here is that, whether indoor or out, home growers could be saving between 20% and 30% cost on their annual weed bill.

Growing weed at home requires commitment and dedication though and not everyone is cut out for agriculture. If you don’t have the time or energy to invest in growing a great crop, it might be best to let the pros do it for you. Weed prices will come down worldwide over the next few years anyway.

Citations

1.Nebula Haze What is the Optimum Final Height for Cannabis Plants?. Retrieved September 04, 2018 from https://www.growweedeasy.com/best-height-indoor-cannabis-plants

2.Outdoor Growing Outdoor/Light Dep Season 2014 in Norcal. Retrieved September 04, 2018 from https://www.rollitup.org/t/outdoor-light-dep-season-2014-in-norcal.820303/page-5

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About the author: Aaron M.

Aaron is a freelance cannabis writer for Slyng, covering medical marijuana, cultivation and other cannabis culture topics. He's also an independent musician and songwriter releasing his debut album one single at a time.

www.aaronmatthewmusic.org