We're not interested in taking one side or other in the whole pot-legalization thing. Maybe you're passionate about legalization, maybe you're not. Maybe you use the stuff, maybe you don't. We're not here to make assumptions.
But unless you're rich (and you're not -- we will make that assumption), you've surely thought about what an easy life it must be for people who are able to legally grow the stuff, right? After all, nothing pays like drugs -- you'd be like Scarface, without the part where he gets shot at the end. Or maybe you'd keep it small, and just be a laid-back dude hanging with the stoners. In some states, all you need is a license to grow medicinal marijuana and you're set.
Or, maybe not. Before you renew that subscription to High Times and quit your day job, there are some things you need to take into consideration ...
Even Where It's Legal, the Regulations Will Make Your Life Hell
Say you're an aspiring pot grower living in one of the states where medicinal marijuana is legal. First you have to stop and realize what "legal" means. In California, arguably the most lenient of the "legalized" states, they've seen a string of raids on medicinal marijuana dispensaries, even after Obama and the DEA said they wouldn't prosecute legal growers in states that allow it if the number of plants does not exceed 99.
President Obama, seen here demonstrating the largest legally acceptable blunt size.
Confused? Well, there are all sorts of loopholes that can give the DEA an excuse to come down on a grower. For instance, you are not legally allowed to grow or distribute anywhere within 1,000 feet of a school, or more specifically, anywhere where children may gather regularly. That could technically mean a church, a local park, a zoo, a movie theater or even neighbors' houses, if they have children.
And even if you steer clear of all of their rules, there are hundreds of other little conditions to consider, like the number of "mature" plants you are allowed to have (and what qualifies as "mature") and how much "manicured" product you're allowed to carry at any given time. Having it in your home is fine, but legally you can't drive very easily with it in the most lenient states.
"Alright, we'll overlook the pot, but we've got to ticket you for not buckling it up."
But even if the DEA doesn't come knocking, many homeowners' associations have their own stringent regulations that forbid residents from setting up pot farms in the suburbs. Basically, growing weed for a living is like willingly adding your name to the sex offender registry: Your neighbors no longer trust you, and the authorities forbid you from coming into contact with children.
And then there are all of the regulations surrounding the disposal of damn near everything in a grow operation. We'll get into the logistics of growing in a moment, but let's just say there are all sorts of heavily regulated chemicals involved, and waste that is even more heavily regulated. Like synthetic fertilizers. The word "synthetic" is the big operator here, because a lot of them are toxic. Dump that out improperly, or in the wrong area, and a person could be charged with purposefully contaminating the groundwater, which qualifies as terrorism. Is growing weed for a living worth having a Toby Keith song written about you? Think it over.
Don't worry, though -- contaminating plain old river water is perfectly legal.