What Does California’s Prop 64 Say About Home Marijuana Cultivation?

After our fist book, The Urban Homestead, came out we visited a big-box bookstore to see what category it ended up in. This was before bookstores created separate shelves for urban homesteading. Unsurprisingly, we found it in the gardening section. What did surprise me was the other books in the garden category. The overwhelming majority were about growing marijuana. There were lavish coffee table books of bud porn, detailed encyclopedias edited by huge teams of experts and countless tomes covering the technical details indoor lights, fertilizers and growing mediums.

Marijuana is the elephant in the gardening bedroom. I strongly suspect that the majority of money spent on fertilizers and gardening related products are for growing pot not petunias. This November, Californians will vote on Proposition 64 which will legalize marijuana for adults over 21. I thought I’d take a look at the text of the law to see what it says about home cultivation.

Currently, qualified patients can use and grow marijuana for medical purposes. In practice anyone can “qualify” by handing over some cash to a storefront doctor and claiming some vague symptoms. This is an exact repeat of what happened during prohibition when a shady doctor could write you a prescription for a shot of whiskey. Under the present law, according to NORML,

Qualified patients are exempt from the state permit program if cultivating less than 100 square feet for personal medical use.  Primary caregivers with five or fewer patients are allowed up to 500 square feet (AB 243, 11362.777(g) and SB 643, 19319). Exemption under this section does not prevent a local government from further restricting or banning the cultivation, provision, etc. of medical cannabis by individual patients or caregivers in accordance with its constitutional police powers under Section 7, Article XI of the CA Constitution (11362.777(g))

In other words, right now there’s a confusing patchwork of regulation when it comes to personal cultivation.

Here’s the text of Proposition 64 relating to home cultivation:

11362.2. (a) Personal cultivation of marijuana under paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) a/Section 11362.1 is subject to the following restrictions:
(1) A person shall plant, cultivate, harvest, dry, or process plants in accordance with local ordinances, if any, adopted in accordance with subdivision (b) of this section.
(2) The living plants and any marijuana produced by the plants in excess of 28.5 grams are kept within the person’s private residence, or upon the grounds of that private residence (e.g., in an outdoor garden area), are in a locked space, and are not visible by normal unaided vision from a public place.
(3) Not more than six living plants may be planted, cultivated, harvested, dried, or processed within a single private residence, or upon the grounds of that private residence, at one time. (b)(l) A city, county, or city and county may enact and enforce reasonable regulations to reasonably regulate the actions and conduct in paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 11362.1. (2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), no city, county, or city and county may completely prohibit persons engaging in the actions and conduct under paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 11362.1 inside a private residence, or inside an accessory structure to a private residence located upon the grounds of a private residence that is fully enclosed and secure. (3) Notwithstanding paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 113 62.1, a city, county, or city and county may completely prohibit persons from engaging in actions and conduct under paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 11362.1 outdoors upon the grounds of a private residence.
(4) Paragraph (3) of this subdivision shall become inoperable upon a determination by the California Attorney General that nonmedical use of marijuana is lawful in the State of California under federal law, and an act taken by a city, county, or city and county under paragraph (3) shall be deemed repealed upon the date of such determination by the California Attorney General.
(5) For purposes of this section, ”private residence” means a house, an apartment unit, a mobile home, or other similar dwelling.

In short, the proposition will prevent municipalities from forbidding indoor growing while allowing the regulation of outdoor growing. I’m not going to address what the proposition says about larger growing operations since this involves a complex maze of yet to evolve state and local laws that are hugely controversial.


In my perfect world marijuana is just another plant, no more or less exciting that a grape vine. As a consequence of marijuana prohibition, illegal outdoor growing operations have been the cause of a lot of environmental damage and violence. Indoor growing is energy intensive and inefficient. It’s my hope that Proposition 64 will improve the current situation by legalizing personal growing (though I wish that municipalities did not have so much control over outdoor growing). Enacting laws against plants seems arrogant, and reminds me of King Canute’s demonstration of the futility of willing the tide not to come in. I have no interest in growing pot, but I think it should be legal to do so.

That said, I realize this proposition is hugely controversial and depends a lot on what will happen when the legislature and local municipalities start building up a regulatory structure surrounding the use, taxation and production of marijuana. I’m interested in hearing your opinions. To those of you who already live where pot is legal–Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington: what has legalization meant in terms of home growing operations? If you’re in California, will you be voting for or against Prop 64? If you’re not in California do you think is should be legal to grow pot? Why or why not?


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  1. I live in Washington. I don’t grow pot or partake. I voted for legalization and I would do it again. Things that have changed in my life due to the legalization of pot: I see some billboards advertising businesses. I’m also not sure why the marijuana sellers makes the exterior of their businesses so tacky, a la vape cigarette dealers. They have to spend money on signs…why not nice signs?

    Anyways, my biggest gripe is the quality of the signage, LOL.

    I think the biggest change to make legalization the real deal is to get the feds on board so businesses can use the banking system rather than having to conduct a cash-only business.

    FWIW, I do not feel the same way about meth, heroine, cocaine, or anything else that falls into that general category. Lost a quasi-brother in law to heroine. It ruins lives. Truly.

    But pot? I don’t know what percentage of Washington partakes and do not care. It hasn’t affected me in any way. The only way I could imagine it affecting me is if I lived in an apartment building and had to deal with the smell…that would be a different story.

  2. This very much summarizes the same points I made in a conversation I just had the other day about it. I have never used it, medicinally or otherwise, but as a kitchen herbalist with many herbalist friends, I deeply appreciate it’s value as an impotant and useful plant medicine ally. As a fan of textiles and slow fashion and the fibershed movement/s, I also appreciate it’s value as a bast fiber, with many, many uses, and which doesn’t have the same greedy requirements as other fibers currently in use. As someone who deliberately chose a house nuzzled up to the foothills to be as close to nature as one can in the LA area, I mourn the use of pesticides, herbicides, rodenticides, traps, water theft, and danger to unknowing hikers etc etc that accompany illegal growing operations in the national forest lands. As an Angeleno always at risk of power outages in the summer, I can’t help but think that we’ll all benefit ecologically if the energy intensive indoor grow operations can literally come out from hiding and see the light of day. And looping back to the herbalist angle, I have fury at the notion of banning any useful plant in the name of the “war” on drugs. Baby. Bathwater. #ma-huang #kratom (and several others)
    So, a yes vote from me in the name of plant liberation. And yes, once legalized, I am honestly considering planting one just because I CAN (and would do it organically) 😉
    Lastly, from a more esoteric view, I think it odd that plants grown commercially are under 24/7 grow lights to force them to produce more and more buds. Essentially, this reduces them them all to exceedingly, continually sexually frustrated female plants. Kind of like CAFO battery egg-laying operations. Or some kind of eerie Handmaid’s Tale world for plants. From an energetic perpective, is that the medicine you want to take in?? Free the weed, indeed!

  3. I live in California and I’m voting against the initiative. Not because I’m against marijuana; I’m against the big businesses that have already started planning and building for their outlets. I live near a national park that isn’t safe to walk in during the fall because of the cartel run grow areas on public ground. I see the small businesses currently in operation being closed as the big money groups come into the state. I see CA politicians looking at this initiative as another cash cow to tax but the reality is little money will actually be collected. The little guys are going to suffer again.

    • @Steve – Your reasoning seems contradictory. You say you are against legality and then immediately bemoan the black-market symptoms of prohibition. Don’t you see that the reason your national park isn’t safe is _because_ of the prohibition that makes it so lucrative for cartels to invade the national parks. The big business fear is propaganda delivered courtesy of black-market growers who want to protect their empire. If you really want to affect these issues and make the parks safe again you should vote to legalize pot and reduce the incentive for the black-market to operate at all.

    • Just asking, Jonathan, do you think that legalizing pot will stop the growing in the state and national forests? Will the cartels want to actually pay rent when right now they use/steal land for free? Then they can sell the product for a greater profit … That aspect of the black market seems like it may be resistant to other factors, including total legalization. I am generally pro-legalization but I think we have to be realistic.

    • Steve: With “Big Businesses” taking over as you fear, the cartels and other criminals growing will lose their desire to grow for this reason. The good ole boy network of politicians and law enforcement will protect the new “big business” growers to eliminate their competition by demanding the cops bust and jail the growers not sanctioned by the good ole boys. Do you think all these outlaw growers are currently doing it without law enforcement knowing what they are doing? The cops know, and allow them to grow either out of laziness or they are being paid off. Politicians will decide who gets to grow and who does not based on a big money pay to play basis. Instead of paying off the cops, the big corporations will pay off the politicians. You will be limited to growing your 6 plants in your greenhouse. There will be strict restrictions and regulations that will be enforced. The current outlaw and semi-outlaw dope growers will switch to meth and heroin as a commodity for profit — many already have diversified into hard drugs.

    • At least in our area, the distribution of mj by the local gangs went way down after the dispensaries became widespread, and they reportedly switched over to tech theft as their primary means of income. The local police blotters seem to bear this out with ongoing multiple cases of vehicle smash and grabs or house robberies specifically targeting the portable tech objects (iphones. ipads and laptops etc) each week.
      In a neighboring community, though, there has been a huge rise in the number of dangerous, house-based mj oil manufacturing operations.
      The criminals will always find their ways (and that includes the corporate kind 😉 ). As an herbalist, though, I’m happy that my colleagues, or an average family with an ailing loved one will no longer have to be counted among them.

    • I hope you are right, I really do. But as long as it’s illegal under federal law, and you can’t open a bank account for your business or pay federal taxes, I wonder just how “big business” legit it will actually be. To me it can never be truly “legalized” until the feds get on board.

  4. First of all I am not a partaker or a grower and have no real interest other then I think it is wrong to prohibit growing of any plant. (Free the weed, YES) Second of all I have heard that those who grow for profit (as in grow-lights, blacked out sheds,spare bedrooms,hydroponics etc) are the ones most concerned about this passing as it will destroy their ‘business’. Thus said, I hope it passes and I will vote for it.

  5. As an educator, non user of pot, and oregonion my experience has been a net positive for legalisation. The tax benefits have been real, there has been no real spike in crime (cash dealings seem to operate smoothly), and there has been relatively little change to my day to day. Use in public isn’t allowed here, something that has kept quality of life for those who choose not to partake fairly high. I’m also pleased at the potential increasing legality has to reduce violence in Mexico and further South. The price many in use regions have paid for our consumption up North is abhorrent.

    The one downside I’ve noticed is an increase in my student’s use. Enforcing underage bans is difficult and the health affects are problematic especially for adolescents.

  6. I wish The Mitten would get it head out of its … and legalize. There has been significant push back against legalization from our Attorney General (who’s angling for the Governorship) and it’s just nonsense.

    Medical is allowable here, but it’s out of control. Seriously, there are So Many ‘dispensaries’, and most are just head shops in gnarly slum buildings hawking an 1/8th at the lowest price ever. (yes, Kyle, the signage here is pretty awful as well). Ugh. The one right around the corner from work is named Capital Dank. I’m pro-pot, but come on…

    That said, I think more folks should home grow. It’s called weed for a reason; because it grows like one! 5 gallon bucket, $2 bag of no-name compost, 2 4-foot shop lights with 1 warm, 1 cool bulb each and 8 weeks later… voila! It’s been a couple of years since I’ve needed to grow, but it’s not difficult, and any one with half of a gardening brain can provide for themselves without much effort or putting cash in the pocket of any potential big growers (legal or otherwise).

    I’m a fan of seed saving and supporting local businesses (we have a seed bank in my city), so as a home grower you can be as interconnected with the community or ‘in the closet’ as you prefer. Good luck on the passage and fingers crossed for the NORMLization and legalization nationally in the near future.

  7. Cannabis has never been shown to be as harmful as it’s made out to be. To my knowledge, there are no statistics proving that it’s killed anyone, or ruined a life. There are, however, plenty of studies that show both tobacco and liquor to be extremely deleterious to the human body and condition. For whatever reason, the powers that be have their heads on backwards. Why cannabis isn’t legal and tobacco and liquor are kind of makes me think of movie ratings; it’s ok to show people murdering each other but not making love to each other. I don’t know about anybody else, but I have a problem with those that have decided for me what’s obscene and what’s not good for me. You know what’s not good for you and obscene? Soft drinks and the amount of sugar they have in them. And sugar has been proven to feed cancers; cannabis has been proven to alleviate symptoms of cancer.

    I live in Oregon and I voted for the proposition to legalize cannabis. Any state contemplating legalizing it should definitely have a provision in the statute for the cultivation of it at home. Maybe someday in addition to a chicken in every pot, there will also be a cannabis plant in every plot. If everybody grew, you wouldn’t have to worry so much about the big guys. But the provision has to be there from the beginning.

  8. One of the interesting qualities of cannabis is that it has male and female plants, and the male plants use airborne pollen (stuff that can travel miles) to inseminate the female buds. To grow the best bud for smoking, though, you want to prevent the female plants from being inseminated (only female plants are really smokable). So, many commercial farmers in legalized states are very nervous about outdoor home grows that might result in males spreading their pollen. I personally think this worry is silly, but it is a plant that needs some familiarity before people just start spreading seeds.

  9. As a local government lawyer, I can’t agree with you about municipal control, but I think in practice a couple plants can probably fly under the radar. Where local law enforcement gets concerned is larger outdoor growing operations, which people feel they must protect with giant fences or guns and the like. I am not a fan of indoor operations from a building code/fire code standpoint, they often result in fires or cause water damage if done badly so ideally I agree – outdoor is better. But I don’t have any answers!

    • Inder
      Hi. Have you considered that the problems some governments fear (protecting large growing operations with giant fences and guns)is a consequence of restrictive laws. If marijuana is illegal driving prices to exorbitant heights then the desire to steal from a grower is greater and if illegal a thief knows the owner will not report the crime. Seems to be a catch 22 solved by legalization and allowing people to grow what they want.

      I live in a state where marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use, however city government where I live choose to not allow any shops to sell it within the city. A rather dumb move. Still legal to posses and use in the city, but the citizens must travel to another municipality to buy it thereby giving all the TAX DOLLARS to another city. The religious right shoots itself in the foot again.

      Local governments need to accept that marijuana is legal and stop penalizing their own citizens by enacting their outdated moral laws on them.

  10. To my mind the most rational argument that can be made supporting legalization is that it will force the reclassification of cannabis, thereby freeing it up for proper research so that the true therapeutic potential of the drug can be realized. Poor planning and bad execution determined the evolution of the “Medical Marijuana” industry as it currently exists in California, so hopefully the folks writing the legislation have done their homework and crafted a coherent law. Furthermore, the purported (largely hypothetical) social costs of legalization have to be measured against the potential benefits of having cannabis based drugs as an alternative to the much more dangerous assortment of pharmaceuticals that are available to anyone walking into a Rite Aid with a prescription (which has thus far avoided the social stigma that walking into a dispensary does). Plus, if I’m able to grow a plant in my yard that I can utilize for my healthcare, possibly allowing me to bypass the health industrial complex altogether, then that is an undeniable victory for personal freedom and truly living the Root Simple ethos!

  11. I’m in California, and am for legalizing pot. I don’t partake, me and one of my sons are actually allergic, strange but true. But my daughter likes it. It helps with her anxiety. I have grown it, not especially difficult. Probably will again, but they are large plants and I have limited space.

  12. How many states legalizing marijuana will it take for the DEA rescind its insane ruling and take pot off the Schedule One list? I think the DEA has hopelessly lost the ‘war on drugs’ and knows they have screwed the pooch on this one. The US should forcibly retire the agency and lock them into a secure retirement home.

  13. Hindu cultures which have invented nearly everything including the number system based on 10’s have used herbal cannabis extensively for millenia. Such is proof that herbal cannabis is not harmful to the brain. Those who seek to turn herbal cannabis use into a trashy racket need to heed my words – do not mess with cultures which have always been and always will be far more technologically advanced.

    Drunken cultures of bigotry are objectively inferior. Either cease your corrupt activities or be nothing more than a stain in the history books.

  14. Pingback: WEEDGANGSTA – FEED IT! | 10 Reasons Why You Should Vote “Yes” on Prop 64

  15. Hi, I live in apartment homes in California, in Temecula city. I have been getting notices about the smell of marijuana coming from the whole building on my side. I fought it because they have no proof. My apartments sent notices out to everyone in my building stating they will be kicked out basically since it is in the lease agreement.
    I am just unsure if the prop 64 that passed will have any effect on those kind of lease agreements.

    My question is will i be aloud to smoke marijuana in my apartment home without having to fear being told im in violation that i will be kicked out? does anyone know anything on this?

    • Not sure what lease agreement situations will happen, but please know that the CA law won’t take effect until Jan of 2018. For the sake of not risking your living situation in the meantime, I’d say vape or do edibles instead.

  16. Yay!! it passed! ok so now for my question. I want to grow a couple plants. However I live in an apartment complex in colton, California. I do not get along with management. can apartments complexes make their own rules regarding their tenants growing? I want to be able to grow a couple plants and not have to worry about maintenance coming over to fix something and them smelling it. Can I really grow and management can do nothing about it? I want to grow the plants in those big blue tubs, drill holes in 3 locations around the edge and that is where the pad locks will go to keep them locked. another thing, I do have 3 kids. I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around it being legal and being able to grow. Like I said I just want to make sure that nothing at all can be done to us if I’m just growing a couple plants.

    • The retail sales will not take effect until Jan ’18, but the cultivation provisions take effect immediately.

      That said, as property owner, your landlord can prohibit cultivation and smoking/use on their premises.

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