Growing cannabis vs buying it and the pros and cons of each

Published Jan 29, 2019 02:38 p.m. ET

Since October 17, 2018, marijuana was officially legalized for recreational use. It is legal to possess up to 30 grams almost anywhere in Canada. Because of that more people than ever are considering marijuana as a recreational or medical option. One of the very first things most people did after the strike of midnight on the day of legalization wasn’t placing an order. Instead, they were looking at pricing. For many people purchasing marijuana on any sort of regular basis isn't an option. It gets expensive. It’s trickier to guess how much you will need especially for new users. Luckily, at least in most provinces, it is legal to grow up to four plants per household. Now while four plants don’t sound like a lot, with the right conditions and the right seeds, the yield from four plants could easily supply an individual with all they could need to smoke for a fraction of the cost of buying from dispensaries. With a little research, we have estimated the approximate costs, along with the pros and cons associated with each option.

Buying at a dispensary

Purchasing your marijuana through a dispensary will always be the most expensive option. Fortunately, it does come with its own set of perks though. Most dispensaries buy their stock from large licensed growing facilities. These facilities provide the optimum conditions to grow and have incredibly knowledgeable staff that use some of the best seed and technology that money can buy. They must test every batch for strength, possible contamination and label each accordingly.That provides you, the customer, the easiest way to control the experience. Most manufacturers will also provide easy to follow fact sheets which allows dispensaries to post the exact content of either CBD or THC. It also strains specific medicinal qualities and expected effects from ingesting. Since every strainis different, this is an especially helpful tool for those who are new to using marijuana. The average prices at dispensaries vary and are mainly focused on small quantities by the law.

Pros to buying at a dispensary

  • Stringent rules surrounding contamination.
  • Specifically labeled with the content of THC or CBD
  • Offers a wide variety of strains to choose from
  • Dispensaries can provide knowledge on the expected effects and strains
  • Provides services between regular business hours and most offer fast shipping of only one or two days

Cons to buying at a dispensary

  • Cost prohibitive.
  • Fertilized with chemicals and often are not labeled sufficiently
  • Offers only small quantities


The prices of each dispensary vary significantly from one to the next, however, there are average price ranges. Dispensaries will generally charge more for strains considered to be of higher quality or higher THC content.

The average cost of a gram at dispensaries across the province is $6-$15.

If you are lucky your local dispensary will offer eighth bulk deals, but it isn't a standard, and only government - run dispensaries seem to provide it across the board. The average eighth (3.5 grams) runs between $25-$35.

An ounce (32 grams) goes for an average of $150-$300.

Growing cannabis inside

The cost of growing marijuana indoors has many variables when trying to calculate. With the average grow room (with the ability to grow four or more plants) requiring materials running anywhere from $100- $5000. You must factor in your lighting which includes hydro. Then there is any wall coverings/ grow

tents, water, fertilizer, pots, table/shelves, and seed costs.

Pros to growing indoors

  • Allows more control over the end cost. Since you choose all your starting materials, you can have a lot more say in the yearly expense when growing indoors.
  • Growing for many is viewed as a relaxing or soothing hobby much like growing regular house plants.
  • Allows freedom of choice in fertilizer used. For those with sensitivities to commonly used fertilizers, this may be a lifesaver.

Cons to growing indoors

  • Requires a lot of space. The average indoor grow room is 6x6
  • High cost to start. Growing indoors requires lights and more that toomany could be considered cost prohibitive
  • Log waiting period. Growing can take anywhere from 60-120 days depending on the strain chosen.
  • Mold potential. If proper precautions aren’t taken, when growing indoors you will have the potential to be riddled with mold issues. From your weed to your walls. Thisis the risk most frequently associated with growing indoors
  • Growing indoors comes with risks, including losing the crop to either pests, pets, or inability to provide the proper nutrients. If you can’t keep the average house plant alive growing indoors may not be for you.

Average cost of growing weed indoors

To calculate the average cost of this method, you must calculate all the material used, including hydro, fertilizer, seeds and lighting. The lighting will last for several years so that can be divided by the average life expectancy of the lights chosen.

The Estimated Total cost to start and grow one crop (of four plants) successfully is $1575-$2300 - This is assuming an average yield of 1-4 pounds.

Growing cannabis outdoors

Growing cannabis outside is by far the cheapest and most straightforward method here. With only the basics, you can have a fair priced yield if you pick the right location. Growing outdoors requires a spot with plenty, 6+ hours of sunlight and some good seeds and fertilizer.

Pros to growing outdoors

  • Requires the least investment
  • The easiest method for new growers
  • Cheapest way available to provide your cannabis
  • Only needs outdoor space. Approximately two square feet per plant

Cons of growing outdoors

  • Difficult to control optimal light conditions.
  • Easy for thieves to steal, harder to conceal.
  • Some pests and wildlife are drawn to marijuana plants and will either dig them up or eat them.

Overall cost of growing cannabis outside

To calculate the average cost, we took into consideration all of the materials required to start.

The Estimated Total cost of growing cannabis outside is $1000 but can often be done for less. With a slightly lower than indoor expected yield at 1-3 pounds expected.

Each option offers so many pros and cons that only you can decide which route is best for you. Many prefer to use dispensaries to test out various strains before investing too much time or energy into growing an entire crop. Others like to dive right in and learn by experience instead. Either way, the dispensary is definitelythe most expensive option. If you are unsure of how many plants you can legally grow in your area, you should check out our guide to the laws across Canada for the specific conditions and or restrictions that must be met in order to abide by the law in your area.



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