Currently, every state—except for Washington—that allows recreational cannabis dispensaries also allows homegrow. So far, none of these states have seriously considered rescinding the policy, and in Washington, there’s a growing push to add homegrow to the mix.
So what gives? Why has growing six plants at home become so controversial?
Illinois lawmakers actually passed an admirably equity-centered legalization bill, other than deciding that non-medical-patient adults can’t grow their own. And now lawmakers in New York and New Jersey appear poised to make the same mistake when considering their own legalization bills.
To find out why, let’s follow the money a bit.
In a recent interview with Cannabis Wire, New York State Senator Diane Savino described homegrow as a major sticking point in trying to pass legalization.
“The truth is, if you’re going to have a legal, regulated market, it’s hard to manage homegrow. I don’t know how you really do that. And every state that has it, has said to us, ‘Don’t do it,’” said Savino.
Savino’s office did not reply to several inquiries from Leafly seeking clarification on which states advised against homegrow and for what specific reasons. But apparently she hasn’t spoken with Shaleen Title—one of five members of the Cannabis Control Commission in Massachusetts—because Title put “Allow Homegrow” at #1 in her widely disseminated list, “10 Must-Haves in Any Cannabis Legalization Bill.”
“The truth is, if you’re going to have a legal, regulated market, it’s hard to manage homegrow. I don’t know how you really do that. And every state that has it, has said to us, ‘Don’t do it’”
New York State Senator Diane Savino
Meanwhile, we do know that some of the biggest players in New York’s nascent cannabis industry have been aggressively lobbying against allowing individuals to cultivate their own cannabis for personal use.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, the advocacy website Marijuana Moment gained access to a 29-page document that was sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo by the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association (NYMCIA) roughly a month before he announced a legalization plan that specifically excluded homegrow.
The NYMCIA represents a who’s who of Big Marijuana in the state, including Acreage NY (featuring John Boehner), and MedMen (yup, those guys). The industry group’s policy statement featured an entire chapter titled “The Fallacy of Home Grow” that cited five reasons why allowing at-home personal cultivation poses a supposed risk to public safety.