Home grown: How much weed do Missourians grow at home?
Missouri has been at the forefront of the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in recent years.
One of the most progressive parts of legalization language in Missouri is the approach taken toward home cultivation of medical, and now, recreational cannabis.
At its peak in March 2022, Missouri’s population of home cultivators for medical purposes was just over 28,000. However, these numbers have dipped slightly over time. In recent years, the state has seen a significant decrease in the number of new applications for medical marijuana cultivation. While Missouri had previously seen an average of more than 2,000 new applications per month between July 2019 and November 2021, the state has averaged fewer than 500 new medical marijuana cultivation applications each month since September 2022.
According to recent data, Missouri now has nearly 24,000 licensed home growers. With nearly 23,000 of those licenses belonging to medical home cultivators or caregivers growing for a patient.
“I think there are a few factors at play regarding a leveling off of registered patients and cultivators following the passage of adult use,” explained Lila Waier, Owner and Operator of Grow Gear, a St. Louis-based grow supply store with an attentive focus toward cannabis.
“There is less incentive for more casual consumers to register as medical patients. Before, they were attracted to the medical program because it was the only pathway to having some level of backup and support from the law and courts if they were to be caught in possession. But under adult use that’s secured for everyone, so someone who partakes in low amounts, maybe a couple times per week, will pick convenience and simplicity rather than jumping through hoops to become medically certified.”
Waier said, “As far as a leveling off of cultivators, I think it is partly due to the general economy. Inflation and the increased cost of goods make it more difficult for people to sock away nest eggs and are forcing people to make choices about how they spend their money.”
“Starting up a 4×4 home grow is tough to do for less than $800, which is a lot of money at one time. It can also seem overwhelming to start for novice gardeners, but I promise it is not as hard as it may seem and regular cannabis users will quickly see a return on their investment. Quality, small-batch homegrown is truly in a class of its own. In time, as new growers hone their skills and knowledge, they end with some of the cleanest, high-quality cannabis they’ve ever had.”
In February of 2023, Missouri began accepting applications for home cultivation for adult use consumers. The state has received more than 1,000 new applications in the three months since. Additionally, there has been a steady stream of renewals for home cultivators, with an average of more than 1,000 monthly renewals since June 2021.
Those numbers bode well for the future of home cultivation, while the new application numbers don’t demonstrate the same rapid rise seen early in the days of legal home cultivation, the steady renewal numbers speak volumes to the long-term success of Missouri’s home grow community.
“I’ve noticed that there is an uptick in beginner tent packages and seed sales,” says Olivia Sobelman, Founder of Grow Depot, a Missouri-based grow supply store with 7 franchise locations. “I’m seeing a lot of new faces in the shop since the new year and am noticing a lot of people just coming in for pointers and help with more of the basic components of growing.
“We have been having fun with the first-time growers, it’s been a good change of pace, and the excitement that comes along with a person’s first harvest keeps us from getting bored.”
While Grow Depot locations have spread around the state, Sobelman isn’t surprised that Missouri didn’t see another spike after adult use legalization.
“Because cannabis treats so many ailments, I do feel like it was so easy to get a medical card that anyone who was interested in smoking or growing would have gotten one at the beginning of legalization instead of waiting for recreational laws to pass.”
Sobelman says that when much of the stigma of cannabis faded and curiosities began to spark after medical marijuana legalization, many of those most interested in legal home cultivation took the leap early.
“I see only a certain side of the industry, just interacting with the growers and home cultivators, so the age groups that I usually see are predominantly those using it for medicinal purposes.”
How much weed is grown at home in Missouri?
Statistically speaking, an average home grower will generally yield roughly a quarter pound of cannabis per plant per harvest. Those with more experience or more space may harvest closer to a half pound of cannabis, per plant. And many experienced growers can pull in more than a pound of marijuana per plant, especially those who grow outdoors.
We averaged growth at 0.5 pounds. With six flowering plants available to be grown at once for each home cultivator in the state, and assumed an average of 3 harvests per year.
With those numbers, Missouri’s legal home cultivators should be harvesting more than 216,000 lbs of legal weed each year.
On the high end, Missouri growers could be growing nearly a quarter-million pounds of marijuana at home annually. If growers collectively average 3.5 harvests per year, that number jumps to 252,000 lbs of home grown cannabis.
Restrictions on growth
It’s worth noting that the home cultivation of marijuana comes with its own set of challenges and regulations.
Cultivators are restricted by rules governing the number of plants in different stages, must maintain their state license, and are neither medical nor adult use growers are permitted to sell home grown marijuana in Missouri. Those with a consumer cultivation card are still allowed to share or gift their homegrown weed with those who are legally allowed to possess it.
For medical patients looking to grow at home, adding cultivation to a license is an additional $50 fee, the license to cultivate expires with your existing medical marijuana licenses – meaning it’s good for up to three years.
For consumer cultivators, the fee is $100 the licenses must be renewed annually.
In either scenario, home growers are allowed to grow 6 flowering marijuana plants, 6 nonflowering plants under 14 inches tall or more, and 6 nonflowering plants under 14 inches tall.
Plants must be kept in an “enclosed locked facility.” And if two patients or consumer growers share space, no more than twelve plants in any stage can be grown at once.