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Cannabis Grow Licenses State By State – In the United States

Updated November 25, 2022

Growing cannabis requires more than just legal marijuana in your jurisdiction. Most jurisdictions also require some sort of licensing, at least if you want to grow cannabis to sell it or grow large quantities.

The requirements related to growing cannabis for personal use and growing it for commercial purposes varies state by state since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. In many cases, you may not even need a grow license if you plan on growing for personal use and only having one or two plants. Even so, you should always confirm the regulations in your state before you start grow cannabis, including whether you need a grow license.

Keep in mind that the laws regarding cannabis, including grow licenses, are still evolving. As such, all the information in this guide is accurate at the time of writing, but you should confirm that it still applies in your jurisdiction before growing.

States Where You Can Grow Marijuana for Personal Use

To start off, take a look at the various states that let medical marijuana users grow plants for their own personal use. Some states also have the same allowances for recreational marijuana. Remember that although these states do not require a grow license to grow cannabis for personal use, if you live in a state with only medical marijuana, you will need a medical marijuana license to grow. Unless otherwise stated, there is no license needed for growing marijuana for personal use.

StateMedical or Recreational?Conditions
AlaskaMedical and Recreational (21+)Each household cannot have more than 12 plants.
ArizonaMedicalHouseholds can only have up to 12 plants, and only if they are more than 25 miles away from the closest dispensary. Otherwise, personal cultivation is not allowed.
CaliforniaMedical and Recreational (21+)Those using recreational marijuana can have up to six plants in each residency. Medical card holders can have up to six mature plants or 12 immature ones.
ColoradoMedical and Recreational (21+)Each person can have up to six plants, with a maximum of three in the flowering growth stage. No residence can have more than 12 plants, regardless of the number of adults.
District of ColumbiaMedical and Recreational (21+)Personal growers can cultivate six plants at once, but only a maximum of three can be in mature growth stages.
HawaiiMedicalA maximum of seven plants can be cultivated, between the caregiver and the patient.
MaineMedical and Recreational (21+)Residents can grow up to six mature plants and 12 immature plants.
MassachusettsMedical and Recreational (21+)Up to six mature plants can be cultivated, but they must not be visible to the public.
MichiganMedical and Recreational (21+)Personal consumers can have up to 12 plants, which must always be stored in a locked and secured facility.
MontanaMedicalPersonal cultivation can include up to 12 seedlings and up to four mature plants.
NevadaMedical and Recreational (21+)Only those who are at least 25 miles from a dispensary can grow marijuana. There is a restriction of six plants per person and 12 per residency for using recreational marijuana. Those using medical marijuana can have up to 12 mature and/or immature plants.
New MexicoMedical – License RequiredA Personal Production License is required, allowing for up to four mature plants and 12 seedlings.
North DakotaMedicalIf you live at least 40 miles from the closest dispensary, you can grow as many as eight plants.
OregonMedical and Recreational (21+)Those over 21 years old can cultivate a maximum of four plants in each residence. Medical marijuana patients can grow as many as six mature plants.
Rhode IslandMedicalGrowing can only take place indoors and there can be as many as 12 mature plants.
VermontMedical and Recreational (21+)Each patient can grow up to seven immature plants and two mature plants.
WashingtonMedical and Recreational (21+)Each person can cultivate up to six plants.

Getting a Personal Production License in New Mexico

In the above list, the only state that requires a specific license (other than a medical marijuana card) to grow marijuana for personal use is New Mexico. Getting this license involves applying to the Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis Program. You can get a license as a medical cannabis patient or a caregiver, with separate forms. These forms are on the same page as the forms required for a medical cannabis card in the state, via the Department of Health website.

When Personal Use Limits Apply

Depending on the state you live in, you may be able to get away with more with your “personal use” cannabis cultivation than others. Regardless of the state, personal use definitely includes cannabis that you plan to use yourself or are growing as the caregiver for a medical marijuana patient.

You cannot grow for “personal” use if you plan on selling it or distributing the cannabis in any way. Some states offer loopholes that allow you to gift some of the cannabis you grow for personal use, but this varies by state and will always have limits to the quantities you can gift.

The General Process of Getting a Grower’s License

If you need to grow more than the above limits or do not plan on just using your cannabis for personal consumption, then you will need to get a cannabis grow license. Not all states will even offer this as an option since some states may not be accepting additional applications. This is an area that is always changing, so you may need to contact the commissioner in your state to get updated information.

Start by confirming that your state is accepting applications. From there, you can find the specific requirements to apply and fill out the application. Keep in mind that most states will only give out a limited number of grower’s licenses for cannabis. As such, you need to submit a strong application that follows the requirements and goes above and beyond. For the best chances of success, try to have employees, authorizations, and other licenses already when you apply.

You will also need to be patient as the approval process can sometimes be time-consuming. As such, do not expect to start making money with your cannabis cultivation immediately. You will likely need to invest in a location and basic supplies, then wait a while before you can actually begin operations.

Fee Examples

There will also be some hefty fees associated with the cannabis grow license, including application fees, licensing fees, and more. As with laws, these are subject to change. Many states also offer tiered pricing based on the size and/or type of facility. The following fees were accurate as of early 2019 and can at least give you an idea of what you should expect a cannabis grow license to cost. Many of the lower figures listed below are simply the application fees, with higher licensing fees.

Alaska$1,000 - $5,000
Arizona$1,000 - $5000
California$1,205 - $44,517
Colorado$1,100 - $5,300
Connecticut$25,000 - $75,000
Delaware$5,000 - $20,000
Illinois$25,000 - $100,000
Maryland$6,000 - $125,000
Massachusetts$1,250 - $12,500
Michigan$6,000 - $500,000
Montana$1,000 - $5,000
Nevada$5,000 - $30,000
New Hampshire$3,000 - $80,000
New Jersey$20,000
New Mexico$10,000 - $90,000
New York$10,000 - $200,000
North Dakota$5,000 - $110,000
Ohio$2,000 - $200,000
Oregon$250 - $5,759
Pennsylvania$10,000 - $200,000
Rhode Island$5,000 - $80,000
Washington$250 - $1,480
West Virginia$5,000 - $50,000

Additionally, some states offer partial refunds on the application fee for those who are unsuccessful in their cannabis grow license application.

Looking at those figures, it is clear that getting a cannabis grow license is an incredibly expensive process in most states. As such, applicants should have a large amount of capital on hand. Additionally, the high fees between the applications and licenses mean that it does not make financial sense for an individual to apply for this type of grow license since it will be too costly in most cases. Instead, only those who want to start a business are likely to apply.

Of course, anyone with the funds who meets the application requirements can apply, it is just unlikely that individuals in most states will have enough funds to get the license. The exceptions would be certain states with lower fees and the super-rich.

What Else Do Cannabis Businesses Need?

While the cannabis grow license is a very important part of starting a cannabis business, it is not the only factor at play. If you want to get the grow license to start a company, then you will also need to take care of a few other crucial things.

Possibly Background Checks and Security Clearance

Depending on where you plan to open your cannabis business, you may need to pass a background check to do so. In some cases, you may even be legally required to have all of your employees pass background checks as well, and even the investors may have to. Canada, for example, requires security clearances for those in charge of commercial grow facilities.

Awareness of Laws and Legalese

Before you decide to open a marijuana business and even before you apply for your cannabis grow license, you should ensure that you are fully aware of the laws, both locally and at the federal level, and what they mean. Remember that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, even if it is legal in your particular state.

Technically, if your area has not explicitly allowed dispensaries and other cannabis-related businesses, then it is just decriminalized or tolerated, not necessarily legal. In that case, your business could theoretically be shut down in the future, causing you to waste your money. For some, this is worth the risk. Others, however, will want to keep this in mind and only open a business somewhere that explicitly states cannabis is legal.

The absolute best idea regarding this aspect of a cannabis business is to consult a lawyer before you make major steps. If you find one that specializes in marijuana businesses, they should know the relevant laws and risks in your area.

Understanding of Additional Obstacles

You also need to be fully aware of the additional obstacles you will face as a cannabis business compared to any other type of business. Most of these come from the fact that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. The biggest issues will be in regards to money, from business loans to payment processing. Most banks and payment processing providers will not want to work with a cannabis business since it is illegal at the federal level and thereby incredibly risky.

As such, you will likely need private funding sources or to pay extremely high rates on any loan you are approved for. Additionally, you will likely have to operate as a cash-only business, unless you manage to find a payment processor that will process payments and a bank willing to hold your company’s funds.

There will also be similar obstacles related to nearly every other aspect of running a business, such as getting insurance. If you can find insurance for your cannabis business, expect to have extremely high premiums.

The Right Location

The proper location is important for any business, but particularly cannabis ones as they need a higher level of security. Make sure that your chosen location meets any legal requirements, such as wall thickness or regarding security measures.

Tips for Growing Cannabis With Your Cannabis Grow License

Once you have your cannabis grow license and have taken care of all of the other business requirements, you are ready to begin operations. At this point, you want to have all of the growing advice available at your disposal so that you can produce a high-quality product and draw in clients.

Choose the Seeds Carefully

One of the most important decisions you will have to make is selecting the seeds to grow. Ideally, you should opt for a variety of cannabis plants, unless you want to set yourself up as a provider of niche strains or those within a given category, such as indica or those with a certain terpene. The better variety you have, the more likely you are to appeal to a range of clients. At the same time, you do not want to go overboard with variety as that will take up more space and reduce the quantities you can offer.

When choosing the seeds, you should also pay attention to their genetic requirements and how that works with your given grow space. For example, you may want to use auto-flowering strains if you have a small indoor grow space. Or, you would want to focus on smaller, compact plants. If you have more room, you can look for seeds that produce large bushes with higher yields.

Consider Feminized Seeds

Growers should also consider whether they want to use feminized seeds instead of regular ones. Feminized seeds will only produce female plants, meaning all will have the THC-rich buds and there is not a risk of a male plant pollinating the females. You can get feminized auto-flowering seeds as well if that is your preference.

Overall, feminized seeds save time and resources for growers. You do not have to start with twice your desired number of plants and wait for them to pre-flower to sex them and eliminate the males. That is wasted time that you could have spent growing more female flowers, and it involves wasting resources.

Focus on Growing Conditions

As you plan your growing conditions now that you have your cannabis grow license, you will also want to think about things like soil, light, water, fertilizers, and boosters. Ensure you opt for nutrient-rich, high-quality soil. This will help avoid deficiencies in your plants and ensure they grow strong and at the optimum speed.

You will also need to look at the nutrient content of your soil so you can add various boosters when necessary without causing any damage. You will also need to plan out your lighting, especially if you are dealing with artificial lighting due to growing indoors. The lighting becomes less important if you opt for auto-flowering seeds, as the light will not be responsible for triggering changes in growth cycles.

Other elements of paying attention to the growing conditions include maintaining the temperature between 18 and 26 Celsius during the flowering and 20 to 24 Celsius at night, ensuring sufficient airflow, and keeping the humidity around 40 percent in the flowering phase.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that if you plan to grow marijuana, you will not likely need a cannabis grow license if you are just growing for personal use. If, however, you plan on producing enough for sales or plan on selling or distributing any of it, you will need a cannabis grow license.

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