As the date approaches when Calgarians can legally grow cannabis plants, many people are suddenly sprouting green thumbs. However, it’s not for everyone, and there are some key considerations to keep in mind to prevent your cannabis dreams from going up in smoke.

“Starting Oct. 17, Albertans can grow up to four cannabis plants per household,” said Tom Neumann, an Alberta medical cannabis grower who shares tips for aspiring home growers through his website, www.thegrowshow.ca.

To date, Neumann has only found one company that will be selling legal retail seeds. Grown properly, people should expect to harvest a pound of cannabis per plant each year. But what does “properly grown” entail?

“In general, growing a cannabis plant is no different than raising a rubber plant,” said Neumann. “I use a peat moss base specially designed for cannabis, but regular soil from a garden centre works just as well.”

“In general, growing a cannabis plant is no different than raising a rubber plant.” – Tom Neumann, medical cannabis grower

When it comes to temperature, cannabis plants like a similar range to other house plants, which is roughly 16-18 C. Lighting is also important, as cannabis uses light changes to know when to flower.
“You need to put it in a special room or closet,” said Neumann. “You can put four plants in a two-by-four-foot closet, set up a light on a ‘12 hours on, 12 hours off’ cycle and it will finish your plants nicely.”

While the situation is quite clear for single-family homes, the rules are murkier for multi-family complexes, and many condo boards and landlords will be banning cultivation and/or consumption on their property entirely.

“The restrictions for those complexes stem from fear of the unknown,” said Neumann.

“For example, there is concern about damage from increased humidity when growing cannabis, but that only applies to growing it hydroponically. It’s just a plant, and if your condo board says residents can only grow it in dirt there should be no problem.”

However, from the City of Calgary’s perspective, there are other concerns.

“If someone is modifying their electrical or plumbing systems to accommodate growing cannabis, they must ensure their contractor pulls the proper permits so that any changes are done to code,” said Matt Zabloski, business strategist with Calgary Community Standards and the City’s project lead for the legalization of cannabis.

“Also, anyone refining cannabis at home to gets oils from it should know that it’s illegal under federal regulations to use organic solvents to refine cannabis. There have been explosions linked to that, so we just ask people to be responsible.”