An Insider’s Look at the Costs and Savings of Growing Cannabis

April 18, 2020

Like the vast majority of cannabis fans, you’ve probably wondered about growing your own. It could be that the strain you want is always unavailable. It could be that you want to see if you’ve got what it takes to be the next Kyle Kushman. One of the biggest reasons people want to grow at home is MONEY.

Growing and selling marijuana is profitable. Just look at the number of people and companies vying for a license in countries and states where it is legal. They wouldn’t bother if there was no money to be made. So, just as it is cheaper to make your own coffee than it is to drive to a coffee-shop, growing your own weed is far more economical.

Before you think about growing cannabis at home, there are some important things to consider.

1. Even if marijuana is legal in your state, there are strict rules on possession, consumption and growing. It is vital you check the law before you start.

2. The pricing information (below) is estimated and only current at the time of publication.

3. If you share your home you should definitely discuss your plans. Not everyone is 420 friendly.

The cost of indoor cultivation

A large-scale commercial cannabis operation requires significant investment, you’re looking at six or seven figures when starting from scratch. Domestic indoor set-ups can be expensive, too… but they don’t have to be.

With luck and some shopping around, you can get started with less than $200, with your average set-up cost somewhere between $100 and $1000. Much of the cost depends on available space, number of plants and the choice of equipment and consumables. Naturally, the smaller the growing area, the fewer the plants you can grow. Cost, in this case, would also be lower.

Here are three simple setups that get you started.

Note: Keep in mind that the prices are only estimates and we have not included utilities.

1. Basic Indoor Setup

This setup is not only the most affordable but also the easiest to manage, making it ideal for both budget AND first-time growers. At $150, it has everything you need to get started. You won’t need an area any bigger than a good-sized closet. As you will be growing marijuana in a small space, you should consider a short, compact indica or autoflowering cannabis plants.

Supplies Cost (USD)
2 Cannabis seeds $20
2 containers 2-gal $1
1 pack of Fox Farm Potting Mix $17
Indoor grow room or tent 24″ x 24″ x 48″ $50
1 Fan 6″ $15
1 Timer $10
150w full-spectrum LED light $43
Total Cost $150

2. Standard Indoor Setup

This setup is suitable for both beginner and experienced marijuana growers. It utilises a larger growing space with extra equipment to grow more plants. This homegrowing set-up will also allow you more control over the conditions that influence growth.

Despite the recommended number of plants (4), you could squeeze in six if you chose small autos… perhaps more with a well-executed Sea of Green (SOG).

Supplies Cost
4 Cannabis seeds $40
4 pots 2-gal $2
1 pack of Miracle-Gro Soil $5
Indoor grow room or tent 32″ x 32″ x 64″ $65
1 Digital timer $13
1 Fan 6″ $16
1 Hydrometer and thermometer $12
1 Indoor grow exhaust kit 4″ $120
1 Inline duct booster fan 6″ $21
1 Vent fan controller $12
1 CMH grow light kit 315W $177
1 5-outlet adapter 15-amp $28
Total Cost $511

3. Advanced Indoor Setup

This comprehensive package allows you to maintain a growing operation all year-round. It includes all the essentials of a standard cannabis home garden – including automation.

The advanced setup lets you grow up to 12 plants and features multiple chambers for various stages of growth. It should be set up in a dedicated room or garage (it probably won’t fit under the stairs).

Supplies Cost
10 Cannabis seeds $90
10 Pots 2-gal $30
3 packs of Miracle-Gro Soil $15
Indoor grow room or tent 60″ x 48″ x 80″ $188
2 Digital timers $26
4 Fans 6″ $64
2 Hydrometers and thermometers $24
1 Indoor grow exhaust kit 6″ $120
2 Inline duct booster fan 6″ $42
2 T5 grow light fixture 4-bulb $150
1 CMH grow light kit 630W $319
Total Cost $1,068

The cost of outdoor cultivation

Growing outdoors is cheaper than indoors, easily. But if you want to grow cannabis in your garden, you need to make sure it is out of sight of the public and secure. The advantages are overwhelming… you don’t have to buy indoor grow lights, fans and all of the other equipment needed for an indoor grow. Mother Nature takes care of (nearly) all of it.

Supplies Cost
3 Cannabis seeds $30
3 Pots 15-gal $9
3 packs of Miracle-Gro Soil $15
Total Cost $55

Obviously, you can spend more if you want… extras like a thermometer, hydrometer, pH kit and additional fertilizers will always come in handy. Even so, the total cost won’t be any more than $120 to $380.

The financial rewards of indoor cultivation

The rewards of growing cannabis at home can be calculated through the total yields. Generally, beginners can expect an average of two to three ounces per plant. With experienced cannabis growers measuring yields in pounds.

The chart below is a rough illustration of expected yield against skill level and grow size.

Note: Keep in mind these are only ballpark figures.

Lighting System Growing Space Average Yields (in oz) for Novice Growers Average Yields  (in oz) for Advanced Growers
200-watt CFL lamp 3.5′ x 1.5′ x 6.5′ 1.5 to 2 oz 3.5 oz
250-watt HPS lamp 3.5′ x 1.5′ x 6.5′ 3 to 5 oz 9 oz
400-watt HPS lamp 3.5′ x 3.5′ x 7′ 4.5 to 9 oz 14 oz
600-watt HPS lamp 4′ x 4′ x 8′ 5 to 10 oz 21 oz
1000-watt HPS lamp 5′ x 5′ x 8′ 9 to 18 oz 36 oz

How do you know if the spend is worth it? How do you know it’s not cheaper to keep buying from dispensary?

On average, top-shelf buds sell for around $320 per ounce. Medium-quality buds retail for about $280.

If you invested around $150 for a basic setup and grew two plants, and harvested 3 to 4 ounces, that has an equivalent value of:

  • 3 x $320 = $640 or 4 x $320 = $1280 for high-quality
  • 3 x $280 = $840 or 4 x $280 = $1120 for medium-quality

There are other costs such as electricity, water and other incidental expenses, but even a basic setup looks promising from an economic point of view.

Growing cannabis commercially

If you’re thinking of growing and selling marijuana commercially, there are far more things to consider than just the grow operation. There are costs involved in securing the necessary license and permits to operate. Also, the cost of utilities is far higher for commercial operations. It’s a long road from beginner to business-owner, but at least you can grow with confidence using Kyle Kushman’s Beginner’s Guides.

Now, some of you may get the idea that selling cannabis could be a profitable sideline. Grow and sell some to friends, for example. DO NOT BOTHER! Selling cannabis without a license is AGAINST THE LAW in the US and in most other countries, too.

Make money by saving money. Grow your own cannabis instead of relying on somebody else to rent the space, grow the plants, pay the staff, pay the bills, harvest the plants, cure the plants, package the weed, transport the weed, pay the retailer and make a profit.

You can do all this in the comfort of your own home for a fraction of the price. And you will have the benefit of knowing exactly where the weed came from and what went into growing it. Why drive to the dispensary every week when you can have mason jars full of homegrown weed sat proudly on your shelf? For us, it’s a no-brainer.

For more information on growing your own cannabis, please check out our Growing Indoors page.