The Costs and Revenues of Growing Cannabis


If you use a reasonable amount of medicinal marijuana, there is probably a temptation to consider growing it at home. In theory, you can grow weed in a small tent and save a few hundred bucks per annum, depending on your usage. It is legal to cultivate pot in over half of our American states if you have an MMJ card, and the state has a medical marijuana program.

However, there are caveats depending on the location. In Nevada, for example, you can grow a maximum of six plants if you live more than 25 miles away from a dispensary. Before you continue reading this article, make sure it is legal to grow marijuana in your state.

In this guide, we look at how much it costs to grow marijuana indoors or outdoors. Then, we take a look at the likely revenue generated or money saved compared to buying it at a dispensary. Please note that only growers with the requisite licenses are permitted to sell cannabis. Illegal sale of marijuana can result in a prison sentence, even in a ‘legal’ state.

The Likely Cost of Growing Cannabis Indoors

Whether you are growing indoors or outside, a small batch of plants should not take up much of your time. Although it is wise to monitor the crop regularly, the relative lack of hours spent on your plants may shock you. Once you have the right set-up in place, it is a much easier endeavor than you imagined.

Here is a list of items you require:

  • Germination equipment
  • Cannabis seeds
  • Buckets and planters
  • A growing medium
  • Fertilizer and nutrients
  • Lighting
  • Air fans
  • A grow tent or room
  • A thermometer and humidity monitor
  • Glass mason jars for curing
  • Scissors (and gloves) for trimming
  • A timer
  • Netting

As you can probably already tell, there isn’t a financial benefit to growing a single plant, unless it offers an exceptional yield. If your state allows you to grow up to six plants, it is worth considering a larger grow. You can always store your herb for up to 18 months in an airtight jar. Let’s analyze the likely costs of setting up your marijuana space indoors.

Marijuana Seeds, Germination & Growing Mediums

You will not get much done without cannabis seeds! In most cases, seeds are sold in packs of five, although there are a handful of sites that sell them one-by-one. We saw Amnesia Haze available for $7 a seed on a special offer, for instance. In general, you are looking at the cost of $40-$80 per 5-pack. Save yourself a lot of frustration by choosing a reputable seed provider, and opting for feminized seeds.

The germination process is pretty straightforward and costs a few cents if you know what to use. All you need is a few paper towels and a plastic bag or a couple of plates, and water! If you have money to spare, you can buy peat pellets for less than $10.

It is up to you to determine your preferred growing medium. If you are on a budget, it is best to focus on high-quality soil. At the best estimate, you need approximately 100 pounds of soil for 5-6 plants. In total, you are looking at anywhere from $100-150 for an organic mix. When you choose the right option, you end up spending less on nutrients.

There are a variety of hydroponics systems on the market, and the best ones could cost up to $500. Proponents suggest that you receive a higher yield for your money. However, if it is your first grow, it is probably a better decision to stick with soil for the time being.

Total Cost: $140 – $240

Buckets & Nutrients

You require buckets and planters to grow your herb, as this is where you place the seeds. You can buy small planters for the early vegetative stage for around $20. You should get enough to grow all of your seeds for that price. As your plants get more prominent, it is necessary to transport them to a larger planter or a bucket.

To begin with, your plants require one-gallon buckets. Later on, you have to transport them to five-gallon containers. You could get several of each size in Home Depot for no more than $40 in total. Remember, you must transfer your plants to new containers as they become larger to ensure they continue to form robust root systems.

Even though a high-quality potting mix already has a bunch of essential nutrients, you must add more throughout the growing cycle of your crop. Your plants have different requirements during the vegetative and flowering stages. In the former, they typically require a higher level of nitrogen. As they begin to bloom, they prefer more potassium and phosphorus, although this depends on the strain.

In general, $50 will get you all the nutrients you need for a small grow.

Total Cost: Approx. $90

Lighting & Electricity

If you are not prepared to invest a reasonable amount of cash into a lighting system, you are setting yourself up for a less than optimal yield. Marijuana plants require a specific type of light. While nothing beats sunlight, growers have the choice of buying LED, HID, or fluorescent lights.

The bulbs in your living room don’t provide anything like enough light, by the way! Unfortunately, weed lighting is not cheap, although the price is falling! Even fluorescent lights, which are on the low-end of the power and quality scale, will cost over $100 if you plan on growing 5-6 plants.

HID and LEDs are a lot more expensive, but we saw a 2000W LED option for $210. For the record, it is large enough to cover a 4 x 4 space, which could fit 10+ plants. Also, an LED grow light can help produce up to a gram of weed per two watts. Therefore, a 2000W bulb could produce 1,000 grams of herb in optimal growing conditions!

Your Energy Bill Arrives – Shock Horror!

Bizarrely, growers often ‘forget’ about the cost of electricity! To understand more, you need to know the average price per kilowatt-hour (kWh). In the United States, the average is $0.12 at the time of writing. The overall cost of lighting during a grow cycle largely depends on the type of bulbs you use. Here is the approximate monthly cost of a handful of common lighting options:

  • 1000W LED: $20
  • CFLs: $27
  • 250W/400W/600W MH/HPS: $33/$46/$61
  • 315W LEC: $43

Of course, the lighting cycle you use also plays a role. During the vegetative stage, your plants should get anywhere from 18 to 24 hours of light per day. In the blooming stage, 12 hours of light per day is sufficient.

Let’s say the total duration of the grow is 16 weeks. Using a 1000W LED bulb, your energy bill is $80. But wait, there’s more! Equipment such as air and water pumps and fans also use plenty of electricity. You could end up paying another $100!

Image Source: SWEEP

As you can see, lighting only comprises 38% of the average energy used during a marijuana grow!

Total Cost: $280 – $600+

Air Fans

If your growing area consists of humid and stale air, your plants will suffer. You must invest in a decent air circulation system. A basic setup includes an intake and exhaust fan. An intake fan brings a constant supply of oxygen-rich air to the room. An exhaust fan removes stale air.

Fortunately, you can purchase a single intake fan and change the direction it is mounted to act as an intake or exhaust fan. A decent quality fan costs anywhere from $70 – $120 in general. You can get a cheaper option, but it may not last far beyond the first four months that you need it.

Cost: $70 – $120

Grow Tent

If you have a large enough house to provide a particular room for your weed, that’s excellent news. For most home cultivators, however, a small grow tent is a better option. The inside of the tent should include:

  • Reflective lining to help get the most out of your lighting.
  • Enough space for the lighting and ventilation system.
  • Preferably hangers or racks.
  • A hole for ventilation.

Almost all of the tents you see online are triangular or square-shaped. A tent also helps prevent pest infestations, reduce the smell of cannabis in your house, and enable you to grow 12 months a year. These days, you can get a decent quality tent for under $100.

Total Cost: $100

Thermometer and Humidity Monitors & Miscellaneous

It is essential to purchase a device that monitors the temperature and humidity of your grow room. There are plenty of all-in-one devices on the market for no more than $20. It is also worth considering a pH testing kit to make sure the soil quality remains high. You can buy one of these kits for no more than $10.

As for the rest of the items mentioned earlier, you can get the lot for between $50 and $70 in most cases.

Total Cost: $80 – $100

Overall, the total cost of growing marijuana indoors is between $760 and $1,250. All of the prices are approximate, and we are sure that a few readers will tell us that they grow their cannabis for less!

The Likely Cost of Growing Cannabis Outdoors

This is a short section because you don’t need a great deal of equipment. Please note that in states where the cultivation of marijuana is legal, you must ensure it is not visible to the public. Weed grows outdoors with minimal interference from humans:

  • Sunlight means you don’t have to pay for lighting.
  • There is no need to invest in a ventilation system because your plants get to breathe in the air that surrounds them.
  • You have the option of planting your seeds directly in the soil if it is of a good enough quality. This fact means you don’t necessarily need buckets or plants. You certainly don’t need a tent!
  • Rainfall ensures that your crop gets enough water.

When you cultivate cannabis outdoors, you need:

  • Potting mix if the soil isn’t of high-enough quality.
  • A thermometer and humidity monitor.
  • A pH kit.
  • Perhaps extra nutrients.
  • Marijuana seeds.
  • The miscellaneous equipment.

As a result, the total cost is between $120 and $380.

The Revenues of Growing Cannabis Indoors

The major part of the calculation involves the total yield. This figure varies depending on the marijuana strain you grow, and the lighting system used, along with other factors. A typical 4 x 4 tent is 16 square feet or 1.48 square meters in size. As long as you prune your plants, you should have no issue fitting six plants in the tent. Some growers can fit far more!

High-yielding strains such as Critical Mass can provide up to 750 grams of herb per square meter. 750 x 1.48 = 1,110 grams of marijuana. A more realistic scenario is that you get around 500 grams per square meter. In that case, you receive 740 grams per harvest. Even if you paid $1,250 to set everything up, it costs the equivalent of $1.69 per gram.

Again, these figures are extremely rough estimates. Your yield will vary massively depending on the lighting used and your level of experience. For example:

  • An experienced grower using a 600W HPS lamp could get a yield of 600 grams in a standard 4 x 4 grow tent.
  • A beginner using a 250W lamp in a smaller grow room may receive a yield of just 140 grams.

Calculating the Cost of Purchasing Marijuana

A better way to calculate your ‘reward’ is to compare it to the cost of the strain from a dispensary. Even this isn’t straightforward! If you live in Oregon, it is a lot cheaper to get weed than in California, for example.

A recent report, based on user-submitted prices, looked at the cost of marijuana in the United States. On average, an ounce of high-quality cannabis cost $326, while an ounce of mids was $266. Assuming you grow medium-quality herb, a harvest of just five ounces (140 grams) covers the cost of what you pay in a dispensary.

With a little practice and added investment, it isn’t hard to imagine a yield of 400 grams. If you pay $1,250 to set everything up, you pay the equivalent of $87.50 per ounce – not bad!

The Revenues of Growing Cannabis Outdoors

If you are lucky enough to grow marijuana outside, the reward is enormous! It is not unusual to see a yield of 500 grams per plant in optimal conditions. If you have enough space to grow six plants, a total return of 3,000 grams is incredible! It equates to slightly over 107 ounces! At mids price, your harvest is worth over $28,000.

The main problem here is that you can’t legally sell without a license! Therefore, don’t try and offload your bounty unless you fancy a spell in prison.

Final Thoughts on the Costs and Revenues of Growing Cannabis

If you have the means to grow marijuana outdoors, do everything you can to proceed. The set-up costs are meager, and the total yield is potentially enormous. If you grow indoors, you will need to pay more than $700 for a decent-standard set-up. Those who cut enough corners and aren’t concerned about high-quality weed and a significant yield may get away with an investment of $300.

Aside from the wonderful experience of growing marijuana, the primary reason to try it is to save money on dispensary herb. You can theoretically grow kilos of cannabis outdoors in a single harvest. However, only about 6% of users smoke 5+ grams a day. Even at this rather chronic level of use, a 500-gram yield will last more than three months.

For the vast majority of users, a decent harvest is enough for a year’s worth of personal use. DO NOT try and sell it unless you are legally allowed to do so. The penalties for the unlawful sale of marijuana are severe. Even in California, where recreational use is legal, sale of any amount of pot is a misdemeanor, which could result in a 6-month prison sentence. In Colorado, the sale of 4 – 12 ounces is a felony with a potential 2-year prison sentence.

When you grow cannabis at home, make sure you only do it to keep your supply high. It is a fantastic experience, and those who attempt it once usually try again.