Where Can You Grow Your Own Medical Cannabis?

Places you can grow medical cannabis.

If you’re considering growing your own medical cannabis, it is important to thoroughly research federal, state, and local laws before getting started. Image Credit: By bondgrunge on shutterstock.

Medical cannabis might be legal to buy and use in your state, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s legal to grow it yourself. In the absence of federal legalization, a confusing patchwork of state and local laws govern what’s legal (or not) when it comes to medical cannabis — which has caused no small amount of frustration for the people who depend on it.

This was illustrated most recently in Ohio, where medical cannabis users have long complained about the high price and low quality of cannabis available in legal dispensaries. As reported in the Columbus Dispatch, advocates recently submitted two bills that would allow people to grow cannabis in their own homes. This was widely viewed as an indictment of the state’s current medical cannabis regime. In the words of Julie Doran, spokeswoman for the Ohio Hemp Farmers Cooperative, “I think it’s no secret that it’s a failing program.” While around 42,000 people in the state are eligible to use medical cannabis, only around half of them have done so.

As in many states, one of the primary reasons that Ohioans have avoided legal dispensaries is cost. For example, Dr. Julie Arnsten, chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, wrote in the health journal STAT that, “Of nearly 500 chronic pain patients certified to use medical cannabis in our practice to date, fewer than half reported purchasing it at a licensed dispensary — largely because they cannot afford it.”

There’s also the issue of access, which is especially difficult for those in rural areas or large cities with poor public transportation systems. Some states, such as Arizona, are considering legislation that would encourage more dispensaries to set up shop in sparsely populated rural areas, though this has proven unpopular with dispensary owners, who “all [want] to get into where the population is,” as state senator David Gowan (R) told the Arizona Capitol Times.

America’s history of racist drug prohibition policies has also led many people of color to steer clear of medical cannabis dispensaries. As reported in a 2017 paper published in Systematic Reviews, “the higher likelihood of ethnic minorities, such as Latinos and African Americans, being targeted by law enforcement or facing legal consequences for involvement with marijuana could also deter their use of medical marijuana.”

The States Where It’s Legal to Grow Your Own Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis is legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia, but only 18 of them permit plants to be grown at home. Here’s a quick breakdown of the laws in each state — for a more comprehensive explanation, it’s a good idea to check the websites of your state or local government. The cannabis advocacy group NORML is also a good resource if you have further questions.

  • Alaska allows for the cultivation of six marijuana plants for medicinal purposes, but only three plants may be mature at any given time.
  • Arizona allows individuals who live over 25 miles from a state-licensed dispensary to grow as many as 12 plants for medicinal purposes. The plants must be kept in a locked location.
  • California does not have limitations on homegrown marijuana, but NORML suggests looking into local laws first. 
  • Colorado allows for six marijuana plants to be grown at home, but there’s a limit of three mature plants at a time.
  • Hawaii residents can grow as many as seven marijuana plants at a time in their home.
  • Illinois will allow registered users to grow as many as five plants at a time starting in January of 2020.
  • Maine allows medical marijuana patients and their caregivers to grow up to six mature plants at a time. 
  • Massachusets households can have six plants for each adult living in the home.
  • Michigan allows for 12 plants to be grown indoors, where they must be locked up. Outside growth is allowed as well, as long as the plants are not visible outside of the property and are kept in an enclosed space. The grower must own or lease the property.
  • Missouri requires medical marijuana users to obtain special permission before growing marijuana in their home. Those who do so can grow up to six plants at a time in a locked space.
  • Montana medical marijuana users without a provider can have four mature plants and four seedlings in their home. 
  • Nevada allows for the growth of 12 mature plants for individuals who either do not have a dispensary within 25 miles or cannot get a specific strain at their dispensary.
  • New Mexico residents can have four immature plants and up to 12 mature ones growing in their home.
  • Oklahoma permits a maximum of six mature plants and six seedlings to be grown at home.
  • Oregon allows for six mature and 18 immature plants in a single home.
  • Rhode Island allows cardholders to have 12 plants and 12 seedlings. Cooperative cultivation is allowed, with 48 mature plants and 48 seedlings allowed in non-residential settings vs. 24 mature plants and 24 seedlings allowed in residential settings.
  • Vermont growers can have up to nine plants at a time, but only two of them can be mature.
  • Washington allows patients registered in the state’s voluntary database to grow up to six plants, compared to four plants for unregistered patients — though a healthcare provider may be able to authorize an exception to these limits.

If you’re considering growing your own medical cannabis, it is important to thoroughly research federal, state, and local laws before getting started. There may be unique requirements about registration and the maximum number of permissible plants (and variable fees) depending on where you live.

Mary Sauer
Mary Sauer
Mary Sauer is a Kansas City-based writer with work appearing in Parade, Vice’s Tonic, and Remedy Review. She writes about mental health, cannabis, and parenting.

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