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Growing Cannabis for Personal Use

Growing Cannabis for personal use is understandably complicated and there are several facts you should know before getting your garden started.

In Canada, individuals with a valid medical Cannabis prescription can grow their own medicine using the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) program.  It allows patients to produce a limited amount of Cannabis with maximum plant, storage and possession restrictions.

Under the ACMPR patients have the option to grow indoors or outdoors, in a secured location where the general public cannot access it.  The physical security of the grow-op location and storage of the product are an important consideration.

Indoor production can be more technical, as it requires lighting and proper ventilation to avoid mold issues.  Consider having electrical work done by a professional, for safety and potential legal reasons.  Most importantly, be sure you have an insurance policy that covers damage done by a ‘legal’ grow operation.

The ACMPR grow application can be found online and must be completed and mailed to Health Canada for processing; it is best to do this at the same time you renew your medical Cannabis prescription.  It can be a straightforward process if you are the owner of the ‘production location’, instead of renting.  If you are renting you will have to get permission from the landlord, there is a section in the application for this.

All permits are valid for one year and must be renewed with your prescription. The initial application can take some time to process, up to 6 months.  Renewal applications are processed much faster, only taking a few weeks.

For every gram per day you are prescribed you are authorized to grow 5 plants.  If your daily RX is for 5 grams per day that allows you to grow a total of 25 plants.  The maximum ‘storage quantity’ of dried flower is 225 grams for each gram you’re prescribed.  If your daily RX is for 5 grams per day that allows you to store a total of 1125 grams at one time, at the production site.  The maximum possession limit remains at 150 grams at one time.

The government also requires that if you produce more than your authorized amount it must be destroyed.  One suggested method of disposal is blending the Cannabis with water, mixing it with cat litter and placing it in the regular garbage or compost.  This is to prevent unauthorized supply to the black and grey markets, as this is one-way illegal dispensaries get product.

It is possible to designate a grower (DG) for this if you can’t grow it yourself and know a trustworthy person who can help.  Only those individuals listed on the application can handle and process the plants and products, this includes any maintenance and harvesting.

Only a few of Licensed Producers can provide seeds and clones at this time, make sure you register with one of these companies to be able to access the legal source.  You can also order product from the LP’s during this time if you choose to do so.

In the summer of 2018, Cannabis will be legal in Canada for recreational purposes, in addition to the medical program which already exists.  The federal government is allowing individuals to grow up to 4 plants per household for recreational purposes.  However, the ultimate decision to allow grow-ops have been left up to the provincial and municipal governments.  This will create some confusion as each city or town will potentially have different rules.

Growing your own Cannabis comes with many benefits, which makes it desirable for those who can do so. It allows you to control the quality of the product and gives individuals more flexibility to customize strains. It is required if you want to juice raw Cannabis for medical purposes, to make infused edibles and topicals using the shake or bi-products.  No matter how you chose to grow Cannabis always consider the legal and safety requirements involved.

References:  CBC, Alberta.ca, and Canada.ca.

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