Growing cannabis -for private use- has been legal in South Africa for exactly two years now. Back in 2018, a Constitutional Court judgment declared parts of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act and Medicines and Related Substances Control Act unconstitutional and decriminalised the private use of cannabis.
While you might find yourself tempted to kick start your own grow, there are a variety of factors you need to take into account. While investing in your own set up might save you some money in the long run, growing marijuana comes with reoccurring overheads and requires knowledge in plant care.
Growing cannabis is also not ideal for someone with a busy lifestyle or someone who travels often – you’ll need to check in on your plants daily to ensure no problems arise.
For those not blessed with the green thumb or who lead a hectic lifestyle, there are a handful of legal clubs in South Africa like Cape Cannabis Club who grow, cure and deliver cannabis for their members – making your 4.20 more convenient than ever. But if you are still on the fence, here are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not cannabis cultivation is the best choice for you.
1) Cost of Setup and Private Space
For those looking to start an indoor setup, there is quite a lot to consider – such as light, ventilation, humidity and the right balance of water and nutrients. You will also need a privately-owned space for growing cannabis that is not accessible to anyone else as drafted in the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill.
The initial cost of setup can range anywhere between R5000 – R40 000. While you might be tempted to invest in a cheap kit or light, let me tell you from experience that the best quality light is essential for indoor cannabis. Purchasing a knock-off “full-spectrum light” for R500 – R1000 will not yield the quality cannabis you’re after.
The kind of light you’ll need (to grow premium grade cannabis and a decent amount of it) will cost between R6000 – R30 000. And that’s just one light. Your tent will set you back another R2000 – R5000 and then there are your oscillating fans and extractor fans and depending on your setup, you’ll most likely need a dehumidifier – and one that can humidify too like the Meaco, which costs around R4000. Then there’s your pots, your light-controller, germination pods, trimmers, etc.
That’s just the start, lest we forget the reoccurring costs like electricity, water, nutrients and medium as well as the cost of seeds. Premium feminized seeds retail for around R200 and there’s no guarantee each one will germinate.
But what about growing outdoors? That should be easier, right? Sure there might be less maintenance, but by no means is it any easier. Should you opt to grow outdoor cannabis, you’ll need great conditions with perfect humidity and rain or water at the correct times. Outdoor growing has it’s own downsides, like cross-pollination and host of pests that might attack your plants.
Cultivating outdoors will also mean your plants will grow at full cycle which is typically 6 to 8 months depending on the strain, planting time and environmental conditions. This means one crop per year and if you botch it you’ll have nothing to smoke until your next successful crop the following year.
Another factor to consider is your general understanding of plant care. If you don’t have a green thumb, be prepared to encounter a few problems at first – nutrient burns, deficiencies, fungus gnats, mites, MILDEW, the list is endless. Cannabis requires quite a lot of care, and some strains need more TLC than others. The care you give your plant -along with its genetics- will determine the quality of your bud.
Growing weed takes time and then curing it takes even more time. Seedling stage lasts about 2-3weeks, then your plant goes into veg cycle for about 5-7 weeks. Then it’s time to flower – and depending on your strain and whether your plant is an auto-flower or not, that will take another 8-11 weeks. Finally, you harvest your precious bud but will have to wait a further 2 weeks for drying and then another 2 weeks for curing. And trust me, trying to smoke it before this process is complete is not a good idea – or experience.
Usually, when you grow cannabis, you end up with a lot of one strain. Depending on the plant and the environment, you could yield up to 80grams of the same bud. To have a variety, you would need to grow more, and there’s still a legal limit as to how much you can grow and keep at any given time in the privacy of your home. The problem with having so much of one strain is that you will adjust to it, which means you might end up smoking more to get the same ‘effect’.
Any cannabis pundit will tell you that to, “keep it fresh” you should be switching the strains you smoke and often. Having a variety also allows you to match your bud with your sought-after experience or help aid a specific medical problem.
In the end, it comes down to personal preference and whether you prefer the major fee of investing in tools – and the time – to do it yourself or paying a monthly fee for convenience and expertise.
When you sign up for a membership at Cape Cannabis Club, the benefits are endless. Not only you do you have full control of what strain/s you would like grown, but you also get to choose the technique, from organic indoor to greenhouse and even hydroponic.