How Does Your (Marijuana) Garden Grow?

As cannabis use increases, it’s worth knowing where our marijuana comes from. Below is a basic overview of how cannabis plants grow and the debate on the movement towards industrialized, mass-scale cannabis farming.

California lawmakers are still ironing out the details on regulating the legalization of recreational cannabis. One issue is whether or not to put a cap on the size of farms. Americans spend tens of billions of dollars each year on cannabis. So it’s no surprise large companies are moving in on the hustle, investing millions of dollars to set up operations, especially in California’s Salinas Valley.

Not everyone is embracing the idea of “cannabis meets Big Ag.” The majority of California cannabis farms outside of Salinas Valley have growing areas less than 5,000 square feet, since keeping a low profile has been the norm for generations of growers.

Whether or not a cap on cannabis farming is implemented, many large and small growers are tapping into our obsession with organic produce and foods, choosing to grow cannabis without any pesticides or chemicals. Some growers are even choosing sun-grown practices over greenhouses for a lighter carbon footprint.


Most cannabis plants produce higher yields when grown outdoors. In the early stage of the cannabis plant’s lifecycle, it is in a vegetative stage. This means it is actively growing and not producing flowers. The plant will continue to grow in a vegetative state as long as it receives 12 hours of light or more per day.

A cannabis plant enters the flowering cycle when its exposure to light dips below 12 hours daily, which can be controlled by cannabis growers. Once a plant starts flowering, a grower may let the plants flower for several weeks before harvesting.

Cannabis plants can come from seeds or clones cut from a “mother plant.” Cannabis farmers may choose plant varieties based on aroma, appearance, taste, effects, growing duration, and suitability for the growing environment.