If you’re interested in growing your own marijuana, you’ve probably run into the term “grow op.” Plenty of resources still refer to marijuana gardens as grow ops. The phrase is short for “grow operations,” and it has a bit of a complicated history.
Prior to legalization, people will still regularly growing marijuana. These were the first grow ops, and they were banned or illegal throughout the US. Places that had once sheltered marijuana grows were known as grow ops even after the plants were removed. It was generally considered a pejorative term – people preferred to avoid living in or near a building that has been a grow op. The illegal status of marijuana cast a shadow over these places.
Today, grow ops are much less stigmatized in many parts of the country. Since marijuana has been legalized for a variety of uses, it’s become more common for people to grow their own. This has helped normalize the concept of the grow op. In fact, if you’re in a location where growing is legal, you can start a grow op of your own, for personal or commercial use.
How to Start a Marijuana Grow Op
Starting a grow up is a serious commitment. Marijuana is still a controlled substance, so there are some legal requirements you need to follow. If you’re planning on growing more than just a couple plants, you also need to set up some infrastructure. A grow op is a business and an investment, and it’s worth the time it takes to set up. Here’s how you can set up your own grow op.
Create a Business Plan
Even if you’re just planning on selling a little bud locally, you’re still creating a business. If you’re not careful, you can end up putting a lot of money and effort into your grow op and not getting much back. Writing a business plan for your grow op will give you a road map for the business. It outlines where you want to go and what you want to avoid. If you decide you want to change your focus later, you can always rewrite the business plan.
Anatomy of a Business Plan
A good business plan has many parts:
- Executive Summary: This is the general overview of your business. Sum up your plan in a paragraph. Most people write it last, after figuring out the other parts.
- Company Description: Describe how your business is set up. Are you a sole proprietorship? A corporation? You should also describe your products, the needs you’re covering, your target market, and your short and long-term business goals.
- Products and Services: Go more in depth about your products. Explain what you’re selling, why it’s worth selling, and how you’re going to sell it.
- Market Analysis: There are definitely other places for your customers to get their marijuana. Outline your target market, your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, and explain how your product will appeal to the target market. You should also explain legal requirements for your business here.
- Strategy and Implementation: This is the rundown on how your business actually works. Explain your pricing, your costs, how you’re going to grow plants, and how you’ll sell product. For example, are you selling online, in a dispensary, or both? How many people will you employ?
- Organization and Management Team: Who is actually a part of your company? If you’re the only member of your company, say so. Otherwise, outline potential positions and responsibilities. Be clear about who owns what part of the company, if there’s a split.
- Financial Plan and Projections: If you’re just starting up, this should be a projected budget, including startup costs and initial income. Lowball your sales and overestimate your costs – worst case scenario, you have extra money in the end.
Setting up a business plan helps you figure out exactly what you want to do. A good business plan involves doing a lot of research. The time is absolutely worth it. It will save you money and time ten-fold later.
Choose a Grow Site
Different states have different requirements for growing marijuana legally. Some require that it is grown in enclosed structures out of sight, while others allow it to be grown outside. Either way, a commercial grow requires that you find a location that’s zoned for commercial use.
If you’re planning to lease or rent, you should also confirm that the property owner is okay with you growing cannabis there. You should always be upfront with your plans for the property. Hiding your purpose can get you evicted, which will set back your grow.
A good indoor marijuana grow property has the following:
- High voltage electrical hookups for lights.
- Clean water and drains.
- High ceilings.
- Good ventilation
- Room to expand the business
A place with all of the above will help you nurture your plants year-round, which is what you want.
Set Up Infrastructure and Supplies
You’re going to need to invest heavily upfront. Cannabis plants need lots of light, fertilizer, and environmental controls for good growth. You’ll need to purchase light banks, growth medium, nutrients, and seeds or plants to get started.
Sometimes other businesses will sell unused equipment, or close and sell off their supplies entirely. That’s a great opportunity to buy everything you need at once. Otherwise, you can look at getting a small business loan to get the things you need.
Check for Legal Compliance
To sell marijuana and grow in bulk, you’ll need several licenses. You will need to register with your state as a business to ensure you pay the correct taxes. You’ll also need to get a commercial marijuana production license. Every state has their own licensure requirements, so it’s best to research what’s necessary in your area.
You will also need to follow state guidelines for operation while in business. You may need to get your marijuana tested, you may need to schedule inspections, and you’ll probably need to work with the local authorities. Remember, marijuana is still a controlled substance. It’s better to triple-check that you’re following local laws than risk fines or legal action.
Common Risks and Problems of Operation
Running a marijuana grow op involves some common problems. Preparing for them in advance will help your business run more smoothly in the long run.
- Trying to do everything manually. A commercially-viable grow op is going to involve hundreds of plants. Get your watering and lights set up to be automatic. You’ll get consistent results much more easily.
- Getting inappropriate equipment. The equipment that works for a home grow is not going to work for a commercial operation. Get the right industrial equipment off the bat, instead of trying to string together small grow equipment.
- Struggling with landlords. Get your contract with your landlord in writing. A signed statement that they are fine with a grow op on their property will nip lots of problems in the bud.
- Inconsistent income streams. It’s tempting to sell your entire harvest all at once. However, that gives you one windfall, but leaves you without income until the next harvest. Until you have consistent harvests every few weeks, it’s smart to sell more slowly. Otherwise, you have to budget a chunk of money to last an unknown length of time.
- Legal struggles. Make sure you are 100% in compliance with every local and state law. There is still stigma against marijuana. Some people will want to get your grow op closed on principle. Make that impossible by following every law to the letter.
A grow op is a rewarding business that’s worth the cost to get off the ground. If you’re interested in becoming a business owner, grow ops are a solid opportunity in a market that’s just opening up. If you do the research and make the investment, then you’re on your way to a successful business.