Our guide to growing weed in California covers the Golden State's home cultivation and licensing laws. Learn how many cannabis plants you can grow as a medical or recreational user, where you can grow them, and what the penalties are for breaking the law. If you're a budding entrepreneur, we’ll outline how you can obtain a cultivation permit and start growing weed.
California Home Grow Weed Laws
In 1996, California legalized the consumption, sale, and cultivation of cannabis for medicinal users over the age of 18 (and minors with authorization) with a doctor's recommendation. In 2016, voters approved proposition 64 legalizing adult-use cannabis for adults 21 and older.
Cannabis gardens must be in a secured location that is not clearly visible or accessible from a public place. Cities are allowed to ban outdoor cultivation. Cultivation laws can be reasonably regulated by local jurisdictions and may include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Require growers to obtain a cultivation permit for a fee
- Set limits on the size of the garden
- Set limits on plant height and ceiling distance
- Limit the amount of lighting energy used
- And several other restrictions.
Recreational Cultivation Laws
Under California's adult-use cannabis laws, recreational users can grow up to six mature plants per household.
Medical Cultivation Laws
Medical cannabis patients and caregivers can cultivate up to 6 mature cannabis plants, 12 immature plants, or a greater amount consistent with the patient's reasonable needs. Patients are allowed to grow in an area that’s 100 square feet.
Illegal Cultivation Laws
Individuals aged 18 to 20 who cultivate cannabis can be punished with a maximum fine of $100. Adults 21 or older caught growing more than 6 cannabis plants can be convicted of a misdemeanor. Growing more than 6 plants is punishable with up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
Nonviolent first-time or second-time offenders can postpone a sentence in order to attend and complete a drug treatment program.
Breaking the cultivation laws in the state can earn you a felony in certain situations. Felony penalties can be punishable by up to 3 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. This can occur when someone grows more than 6 plants and:
- Has a serious violent felony on their record
- Are registered sex offenders
- Have 2 or more prior cannabis cultivation convictions
- Violate certain environmental laws in their cultivation practices
How to Get a Cultivation License in California
In California, the CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is responsible for licensing and regulating commercial cannabis cultivators in the state. The state has an unlimited number of cultivation licenses available. Learn about the application process, fees, and requirements of obtaining a cultivation license in California from our blog resource.
Appellation of Origin Laws
Under California law and its cannabis appellation program, regional cannabis goods and local businesses will be promoted. The laws will protect regional designations and prevent the misrepresentation of a cannabis good’s origin. For instance, a cannabis product may only be advertised as being “Humboldt-grown” if it was grown in Humboldt County. The CDFA is currently considering proposed regulations.
How to Grow Weed in California
Growing cannabis in California for personal use has never been easier. If you meet the minimum age requirements and meet all other legal requirements, you can get started on growing cannabis at home. Of course, climates vary even within the state. It's up to you to account for the rainy and cold climates of Northern California or warm and dry climates of Southern California.
Here's a general rundown of the cannabis cultivation process:
- Choose a location: Check your local laws to see where you are legally allowed to grow and the rules for growing. Growing outdoors can save you money on energy by using the sun for light. Indoor growing can produce high yields, but requires more energy use.
- Gather your supplies: Are you growing from seeds or clones? Shop from reputable online or licensed brick-and-mortar suppliers to obtain high-quality genetics that can thrive in your specific climate. If growing indoors, invest in a proper lighting and ventilation system to maintain an appropriate climate for your plants. Other essentials include:
- Growing medium/container
- Clean water
- Lights (HID, LED, or CFL)
- Grow tent (if growing indoors)
- Get your grow started: If growing from seeds, you'll need to germinate them first. Cannabis clones have already undergone the germination phase. Start off with a lower level of nutrients and lights to jumpstart your plant’s root growth.
- Vegetative phase: During the plant's vegetative phase, it's growing its leaves and branches. It'll need a higher percentage of nitrogen during this time. Consider its unique lighting needs and ensure it has at least 16 hours of daylight.
- Flowering phase: The flowering phase requires about 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness to stimulate flowering. During this time, a higher level of phosphorus and potassium is needed.
- Harvest: When your trichomes are ripe and ready, it's time to cut down your branches and dry them to remove the excess moisture in a cool, dark, and dry environment. Afterward, you must cure them to remove more moisture and refine its flavor and aroma.
- Enjoy: Once you’ve dried and cured your bud, you can smoke it, make edibles, make topicals, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Learn How to Legally Grow Weed in California
Are you interested in learning how to get started growing weed from the comfort of your home? Whether you want to grow indoors or outdoors in California, Cannabis Training University’s online marijuana training program provides you a step-by-step guide on growing weed.
Even if you've never gardened before, our curriculum breaks down the science of cultivation and the cannabis plants. Plus, additional courses give you the knowledge to make your own cannabis edibles, topicals, and even start your cannabis career.