Why Can’t Americans Grow Their Own Weed Without Fear?

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel August 5, 2014

    As an old farm boy, it has always seemed strange to me that most states, and the federal government, treat someone who grows a few marijuana plants for personal use as a more serious offender than someone who buys cannabis from the black market. In practice, by penalizing personal cultivation, the government encourages a thriving black market with absolutely no controls over age, potency or purity. At least if one grows their own marijuana, they can be assured it includes no pesticide residue or other harmful additives. This is an arbitrary policy that has absolutely no basis in public safety.

    But marijuana prohibition has never been a rational policy, and this bias against home cultivation is just another example of that principle.

    At NORML, we have always supported the right of individuals to grow their own marijuana, as a logical option compared to purchasing it from licensed dispensaries. On one hand, growing your own just makes common sense. We can brew up to 100 gallons of home-brew beer in our basements under current law, even if very few Americans actually make their own beer. The same should be true for cultivating our own marijuana.


    51 responses to “Why Can’t Americans Grow Their Own Weed Without Fear?”

    1. Chase says:

      Mr. Stroup,
      You are an incredible guy with an amazing amount of common sense.
      We need to elect you as president!
      One Love.


    2. AlaminoCasino says:

      You know what really sucks? When you’re just growing regular veggies and your neighbors call the freaking cops because they “saw plants under lights”

    3. Miles says:

      I had the exact same conversation with many of my cannabis consuming friends! It is beyond stupid to be forced to choose between black market marijuana and homegrown.

      There came a time in my life when I had moved and didn’t know any dealers. I had to choose whether to risk growing my own or finding a supplier. Based on past experience with suppliers, I found they often couldn’t be trusted. Usually, they didn’t know what strain they were selling, and had not the faintest idea about whether it was grown organically, dried, and properly cured, or may have been exposed to mold.

      I’m so glad that NORML has written this article! Now, I can only hope it helps to influence at least a few prohibitionists out there…

    4. Cupishere says:

      I’ll state again, in my opinion, if personal marijuana cultivation is not permitted the marijuana is still illegal and the prohibition continues. The simple truth is that by supporting initiatives and legislation that does not allow personal cultivation, we are treating marijuana like it is far more dangerous than alcohol. By supporting legislation that does not allow it we are saying, “Go on ahead and restrict pot severly like it is crack cocaine being decriminalized. Go on ahead and ignore the science and facts. Since this law could allow people the right to buy outrageously priced weed that is highly taxed as well, far more than alcohol, go on and add whatever restrictions you want.”

      By supporting the kind of quasi-decrim that took place in Washington State, we are sacrificing truth and our principles. Sometimes, in my opinion, pragmatism is not worth the gains. For example, I love coffee. I’ve loved it since I was seven years old. My entire life, my family drank coffee 24/7. However, it is slightly more dangerous than pot. Why? It can be PHYSICALLY ADDICTIVE. In my early 20s I became an addict drinking 15 cups or more a day. When I tried to back away, I had tremors, headaches, confusion, fatigue, irritability, etc. Some how, I managed to get through withdrawl and start drinking decaf 99% of the time.

      If coffee was ever criminilized, like Bloomberg would probably want it to be, I’d fight hard against proposed laws that decriminilized it, but placed ridiculous restrictions. For example, only being able to drink decaf and a ban on espresso. I’d rather stay a criminal and face prison – while my family suffers or goes without – than accept a pathetic decrim of a very SAFE substance.

      Since marijuana is even safer than coffee, I fully believe that no ballot initiative should be supported unless it allows growing. In my view, any law than bans a person from growing a plant God created – for every human to grow – is an abomination. Right now, you can go to home depot and by poisonous plants that could kill you. It is perfectly legal to have hundreds of them in your yard, but growing a safe non toxic plant is still a crime!

      I sincerely hope NORML will threaten to drop their support for future initiatives that don’t allow personal cultivation.

      [Editor’s note: Again, NORML primarily supports ending cannabis prohibition, which means ending arrests and replacing with retail access. You can choose to define legalization anyway you like. If home cultivation is supported by voters in pre-polling and focus groups, then NORML will endorse home cultivation. If voters do not support home cultivation, but do support ending the arrests and allowing retail sales, NORML is not going to oppose state legalization initiatives that will effectively end prohibition–in favor of holding out for a public policy change, not supported by the public.]

    5. Voice of the Resistance says:

      You’ve got it right Norml. And be able to partake of your hard work without fear of your employer.

    6. TheOracle says:

      Hear, hear! Well said. Thank you, Keith. Thank you, NORML.

      That fact that you know how it’s been grown and that it has no pesticides or herbicides on it or that it’s not mixed with heroin or lead or anything else harmful that dealers use to add weight when they’ve cut it too much. Oregano and parsley are a cheat but harmless compared to other shit I’ve heard people cutting it with.

      I remember all too well Ronald Reagan’s paraquat pot. People were scared they’d get some of the herbicide Mexican weed, although the smoking process is supposed to render the paraquat relatively harmless. Who knew at the time?

      Back in 2008 dealers in Germany were selling pot cut with lead, you know, to give less weed more weight. Looks like not all the Germans could make it to the Dutch coffeeshops.

      I remember in the late 1970s in Allentown, Pennsylvania, there being some dealers who were pimps, and they’d sell weed with heroin mixed in with it. There was so-called rainbow weed that was supposed to have LSD or some other substance in it that was supposed to make people hallucinate and have trips nothing like regular pure untainted cannabis. That was some nasty shit that most folks quickly learned to avoid. When the streets were dry and that was all that was out there you just went without. I mean, after you see a girl or guy you knew who was buying weed off the pimps out on the streets and in the parks, bars and wherever prostituting that was enough to make the rational person take a break from any kind of cannabis. When people think of pimps and prostitutes, you know like you see on tv, you think of pimps getting women into prostitution, but I can tell you that this particular bunch of pimps would pimp guys, too. It was all about the money. Get the person hooked on heroin in the weed, then skip the weed and on to mainlining and prostitution to control them and have a stream of money from the ho, male or female.

      America is supposed to be having a heroin epidemic. I sure as hell don’t want the bad old days coming back.

      Like with tobacco, can see it out in the fields just out of town here in Pennsylvania, a lot of people don’t want to or can’t grow their own and won’t raid fields as they prefer to buy the finished product. Some people just like gardening, house plants, and they should be allowed to grow their own legally.

      I can hardly wait until sales of viable cannabis strain seeds are legal in the U.S. Burpee cannabis catalogs. It would be great to see cannabis seed catalogs coming in the snail mail, online, be able to get them at the local retail cannabis shop. Be nice to get quality seeds at a cheaper price, and from the US, not some foreign outfit. Keep the cash in the US.

      Senator Daylin Leach of Pennsylvania has been in the news recently for taking a couple of vapes of legal on a taxpayer funded trip to Colorado. Since I don’t qualify under the proposed medical marijuana legislation spearheaded by Senator Folmer (R) people who could benefit from marijuana such as people battling cancer yet who do not qualify for MMJ in PA as the legislation is currently written could greatly benefit from adult recreational retail, you know, could get their medicine anyway. Senator Folmer is also chairman of the state’s senate education committee, so figuring Pennsylvania goes the Colorado route and has to legalize MMJ first and then legalizes some years later adult recreational, the commonwealth surely could use the money to fund its ailing public education funding problem, its legislator-created state pension funding crisis problem, use the money to fix bridges and roads. They keep reducing the weight allowed on bridges because the state is shit out of money. Philadelphia schools are saying they won’t open on time if the state doesn’t allow them to levy a $2 per pack tax on a cigarettes.

      The sooner MMJ is legal in PA the sooner they can take the next step and legalize adult recreational. Other than to tax fracking/gas extraction and taxing some tobacco products that aren’t currently being taxed they don’t have any other popular ideas. Nobody wants to pay more state income tax and nobody wants to pay a higher sales tax. You may run into the odd person who does want to pay more, but buy and large there just aren’t the jobs that pay well for most people to be of the mind to want to pay more. So many people I know are in job-lock. My piss is clean and I can’t find a better paying job. My piss is clean, and hell, I can’t even find another job that pays nearly the same as what I’m making now. I can’t emphasize enough how many relatives and friends and other people I’ve heard from with the same story that their buddy, or neighbor or brother or sister just quit looking for a job, unemployment ran out, just living at home or with a relatives, trying to get or now on disability. Governor Corbett talks big about making jobs, but not enough good ones have materialized. Not everybody is cut out to work in the fracking industry, and that’s regional, not everywhere.

      I sure hope this fall that Tom Wolf wins as governor and that he is more receptive to medical marijuana, not practically a rabid prohibitionist like Chris Christie or Cuomo. I mean, Cuomo didn’t want MMJ and had to “evolve.”

      It sure would be nice to have cannabis sector jobs in Pennsylvania. They’re jobs that aren’t here now, and it’s money you didn’t have before. Nobody else is willing to pay more in taxes except for the cannabis community. They want the law off their backs, the legal jobs, the stigma removed, to come out of the cannabis closet in exchange for legal cannabis.

    7. Joe Nickelsack says:

      Did you mean “why can’t Americans grow their own weed?” Hey I just heard on Fox news that the Truckers association was short 30,000 truckers across the U.S. and they acted like they didn’t know why. what a bunch of phonies, they know exactly why…

    8. Audrey says:

      I live in Michigan and will be putting a grow room in the back portion of my new garage, which I can legally do as a care provider or if I have a medical card of my own. I think we are headed to legalization, but in the event that when that joyous day happens and there is a prohibition on growing one’s own, I will (hopefully) still be protected to grow under our current law.

    9. Julian says:

      @ Keith,
      THANK YOU for shining some disinfecting light on the root of our rotten prohibition legislation. I can’t believe that the California Prison Guard lobby is the largest lobby in California! It sure explains a lot, but still… that’s downright disgusting.

      I’m shocked you didn’t mention hemp. While medicinal varieties of marijuana require a super-green thumb, knowledge of hybridization and enclosures (Every mammal and bird wants to eat marijuana), hemp is MUCH easier to grow. With vital agricultural research going on in states that have legalized hemp, the strains and varieties that best suit farmers in their region can be zoned between arid and prime farmlands for industrial use, bio fuel, food and medicine.
      The reality is that it is HEMP that has always had large petrochemical and timber patent owners (i.e. Koch brothers) keeping the legal domestic cannabis growth out of legalization.
      The GOP in Texas has hemp on the platform. The Democrats are going to have to up their annie in these midterm elections, because hemp solves THE major issue facing the southwestern United States… and that’s water consumption.
      California has used %75 of its ground water. Even though Texas is facing a relatively wet winter, it probably won’t even break the drought. The Colorado river is going dry.
      HEMP USES LESS WATER THAN CORN OR COTTON while producing twice the fiber and protein, No pesticides, no herbicide and little fertilizer. And because it doesn’t require buckets of Round Up, it requires even less water, which allows hemp to produce soil instead of eroding it with tons of precious irrigation. Of course, being so easy to grow and resistant to drought and pests makes hemp an enemy of Monsantos.
      Yet in 45 years of the Drug War, the DEA couldn’t even eradicate what was planted during the Hemp for Victory campaign in WWII. Just look down a valley in Indiana and you can see THAT failed.
      Central Valley in California NEEDS hemp. Texas corn fields and cotton fields NEED to diversify their fields with hemp now.. or the next big drought will make growing anything from Texas to California non viable in a very short amount of time.
      Look at it this way; we either start growing hemp NOW, or California won’t even have time to treat the recycled sewer water on half the fruits and vegetables we eat from Central Valley before they all dry up and die. At the current rate of water use combined with increasing demand for recycled, deregulated fracking and sewer water California could create a national epidemic incident that could make West Africa look like a safe place to visit.
      We NEED to use LESS water in the Southwest while producing MORE agriculture. Prohibiting hemp from domestic agriculture for ALL Americans to grow is not only unsustainable, it’s inhumane. We don’t have to stop growing domestic fruits and vegetables, we just need to allow Americans to grow their own food, medicine, fuel and shelter on our OWN lands, as we face an increasingly dry southwestern climate. Hemp can help farmlands restore soil and freshwater supplies by creating more soil with less water and eliminating the corporate dependence on herbicides, fertilizers and pesticides, which ultimately make the food we eat less nutritious and require more water.
      We need this debate in this year’s elections.
      We NEED to grow our own hemp.

    10. Jesse Permenter says:

      I love this way of thinking! I wish more than anything our politicians in DC would adopt this healthy and NORML style of thinking. Thank you very much, Mr. Stroup. You have dedicated yourself to a very honorable cause. Slowly, this fight against this war on drugs will be won by the people, for the people. The battle never ends, those in power are constantly trying to infringe upon rights that are clearly stated, NOT to be infringed upon. We are standing together, united as one and ready to fight for our human right to consume plants of nature that we see fit. In such a medically advanced country and world, one would never expect the doctors would support the iligality of their most powerful medicine, Cannabis, nature. Ride on wings of angels to the finish line for human rights to marijuana use.