Minnesota: Growing Weed At Home Will Be Legal Aug. 1

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Small cannabis plant Minnesota
Photo: Shutterstock

Most people pull up weeds, but in Minnesota, some are preparing to plant one: marijuana.

With Minnesota’s legalization of marijuana for recreational use and home growing starting Aug. 1, an emerging crop of retailers is popping up in preparation for an influx of weed gardeners.

“We have a lot of people coming in and asking us how to grow,” said Bridgette Pinder, a licensed grower who runs an outdoor hemp farm and the THC storefront Grounded Gardens in St. Paul. “I tell them growing is easy and very challenging at the same time.”

Currently, Pinder grows plants to make hemp-derived CBD and THC edibles, lotions and salves that she sells at her Minnesota store. Starting in August, she plans to sell cannabis seeds and plants. In addition, she’ll also start to host classes with step-by-step instructions on how to care for the plants.

“It takes a lot of time and learning,” she said. “Right now, there’s no place you can go learn.”

The class will include an indoor growing package: a humidifier, grow lights and a tent to keep heat and humidity in. Pinder expects to charge $2,000 per person, which will cover the cost of the equipment, plants and instruction.

There are perks for people who want to grow marijuana outdoors because of Minnesota State’s strong sun during the growing season, Pinder said. A seed planted ideally by the end of May will likely flower sometime in September. For the average grower, she estimates each plant will likely yield 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 dry pounds of marijuana.

If you’re growing to harvest THC flowers, the main active ingredient in marijuana, you’ll need to choose a beginner-friendly seed, such as a feminized or autoflower, she said.

Autoflower seeds, which can be grown outdoors or indoors, sprout faster than average seeds and don’t need the same light requirements. Femininized seeds take months longer to flower and require changes in light to trigger the flowering. However, the effort it takes to grow feminized seeds is worth it, Pinder said, because these plants yield more and are of higher quality.

Controlling the product
The biggest benefit of home growing is it gives people control over how they want to grow their plants, said Stephen Cornell, who commercially grows hemp for his Minneapolis-based edible company, Cornell Urban Agriculture.

An avid indoor grower, he uses locally sourced organic soil and doesn’t use chemicals to extract anything from the hemp. He said using his products to help friends with chronic ailments like Crohn’s disease made him decide to drop his job as a financial manager to become a full-time hemp grower.

“A person can control what the chemicals are,” he said.

He advises first-time growers to start out planting in soil. More sophisticated hydroponic systems can be complicated. Conversely, growing in soil allows the grower to focus on other factors such as nutrients and lighting.

“If you bought a pot and filled it with proper nutrients, you could basically just water and grow really good products,” Cornell said.

He noted that when growing outside, you need to be careful that the plant doesn’t get pollinated. If a flower is pollinated, the plant focuses its energy on creating seeds — thus reducing the amount of THC and CBD. After a harvest, you can keep growing the plant if you’d like, but it won’t produce any more flowers.

“It’s done,” Cornell said. “It’s best to compost it back into the earth.”

Home gardeners 21 and older can start planting cannabis indoors in August, as long as their harvest does not exceed 2 pounds in dry weight per person in each household. Each residence can plant up to eight cannabis plants (with no more than four of those flowering at the same time).

Previously, state law allowed only those with a license to grow hemp seeds with a THC level of 0.3% or less. In contrast, cannabis flowers carry higher amounts of THC.

For Minnesota outdoor growers, there are a few more considerations. You’ll need a fence with a lock on it, according to Minnesota’s marijuana bill.

So when can you start planting cannabis seeds and plants? It depends on who you ask.

Planting and selling are technically illegal in Minnesota until Aug. 1, said Allen Sommerfeld, director of communications at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, in an email.

However, Rep. Zack Stephenson, author of Minnesota’s marijuana legalization bill, said at a May 30 press conference that it’s legal to sell seeds because they contain less than the state’s 0.3% THC limit.

But it is legal to prepare your home garden. Research and prep in and of itself can take weeks, according to Pinder.

She admitted that it might take a while for new growers to learn the ropes. For an expert grower like her, the new laws are a long time coming. Being able to grow cannabis at home for her health needs and battles with social anxiety and depression is liberating.

“I’ve been able to plant them in Colorado and California and other legal states, but to be able to grow them in my home state is magical,” Pinder said.