Today’s debate surrounding cannabis legalization is often two-dimensional. In the minds of the public and policymakers, it often comes to medical versus recreational legalization and the pros and cons associated with each.
A 2019 study sought to explore home cultivation of cannabis to determine whether tangible benefits could be derived from such an approach.  The authors argued that home cultivation can offer an “inclusive” and community-centered approach to cannabis where local communities can fine-tune their crops to meet the specific needs of citizens.
The study reviewed 27 jurisdictions on a national and global level. Regulations pertaining to home cultivation differed depending on the jurisdiction. For example, Alaska, Colorado, and California legalized home cultivation as well as “commercial retail outlets.” Conversely, Washington State has legalized commercial cannabis but prohibits home cultivation.
On an international level, Antigua and Barbuda have opted to legalize home cultivation whilst simultaneously prohibiting commercial sales. In addition, jurisdictions have placed limits on the number of plants one can possess as well as additional restrictions on ‘gifting’ cannabis, i.e., handing out personal crops to the community. Age restrictions on home cultivation are existent across certain jurisdictions too.
Although current laws remain uneven internationally, it was found that home cultivation offers implicit benefits not found in commercial outlets. For one, there is a concern that large commercial cannabis distributors are incentivized to chase profits versus consistently putting out safe products for consumers. As a prime example of this, pesticides and other contaminants have been found in commercial products.
“It has been previously argued that people who cultivate cannabis for their personal use have an inherent incentive to make it as safe as possible. Knowing “what they put in their bodies” has been an important motivation to cultivate cannabis…” Belackova et al  argue.
Overall, cannabis growers, patients, and community members have the opportunity to work together in developing an effective cannabis supply chain that meets the needs of local communities and adheres to public health guidelines.
“…local-level governance could allow for pooled cultivation, for compensating growers for the cost of cultivation, and for restricting such supply to the members of the community,” the study says. Rules may allow for the exchange of money in limited ways. Cannabis networks can also help build social bonds and bring market participation to the communities most affected by prohibition.
In their conclusion, Belackova et al  argue that home cultivation can be tailored to fit differing regulations surrounding cannabis – a viable system can be developed for individuals across diverse areas such as Barbuda, Antigua, California, and the Netherlands.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether a ‘home grown’ approach will catch on in the US and wider global community. As of today, the cannabis market is swimming with large and small players alike, each with their own unique products and services.
- Belackova V, Roubalova M, and van de Ven K. Overview of “home” cultivation policies and the case for community-based cannabis supply. International Journal of Drug Policy. 2019(71): 36-46. [Impact Factor: 4.444; Times Cited: 4 (Semantic Scholar)]