Ten or so little plant pots all with soil and small green marijuana plants in them

Once upon a time, every medical marijuana ballot issue and legislative bill contained a provision to permit personal cultivation. In 2007, introduced, but long forgotten Ohio House Bill 343 would have allowed patients to possess 12 mature plants. Limits in the Marijuana Policy Project’s 2012 model bill were set at 12 plants AND 12 seedlings. Why then was home growing omitted from Ohio’s new law?

In June 2016, Ohio became a “legal state” with the passage of Ohio House Bill 523. The legislation established a Medical Marijuana Control Program with cultivators, processors and dispensaries, but forbade “home growing,” well, sort of. The bill itself makes just one vague reference, “cultivator license holder shall not cultivate medical marijuana for personal, family, or household use.” I guess the rest of us can? Ah no, for that one must to defer to the Ohio Revised Code where growing marijuana carries the same penalties as possessing equivalent amounts: small means minor misdemeanors, large can lead to felonies and even mandatory minimum sentences.

Illegally growing marijuana for personal use in Ohio is no inconsequential matter, but it’s a topic that’s not going away. A home growing clause is promised in the recently announced “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Amendment” targeted for the fall 2018 ballot. The practice is permitted in “full legal” states like California (6 plants), Massachusetts (6 plants) and Oregon (4 plants). Patients in Washington State can grow up to 15 plants for personal medical use. 


So, why not Ohio? Good question. In support of the practice,


1) Cannabis is a plant. It’s mother nature, not a fabricated chemical. Banning a natural plant in a biodiverse world such as ours is ludicrous.

2) In its natural form, cannabis is safe. So said DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young 30 years ago. No one in history has overdosed on the plant. It’s safe around children.

3) The home brewing of beer and vintning of wine is legal in all 50 states. Despite the danger of alcohol, which kills thousands each year and is harmful to children, all 50 states permit beer brewing and wine making within the domicile.

4) Reasonable restrictions need apply. As with home brewing and vintning, home growing should be restricted to the residence or other personal space, often closed and locked. I don’t care if my neighbors brew beer, make wine or grow lettuce so long as they’re not trucking it off their property. When cannabis, or really any other product enters transactional commercial space, it should to be regulated and perhaps taxed.

5) A boutique market in the making. While home grown cannot be sold, dozens of specialized businesses will sprout up: potting soil, nutrients, lights and fans.

6) Don’t fear the competition. Some involved in retail trade view home grown product as a competitor that cuts into sales. Maybe, maybe not. Almost all markets can be affected by individual activity. Baking bread, growing beans or brewing beer. The subtractive factor from large volume retail sales is negligible. Even though some individuals can grow great product, far more want to purchase guaranteed fully tested quality, with the quantity pasted on appealing packaging. Further, whether it is a lack of a green thumb or too little time, most people cannot grow their own cannabis, any more than they can brew their own beer or make their own wine.

7) Affordability for those who can’t. Purchased cannabis like all commodities comes with a price tag that many cannot afford, particularly patients. Growing a limited quantity might give a sick person access to medicine that they might not otherwise have.

8) Growing plants is therapeutic. From seed to soil to water to harvest, gardening can have a positive effect on physical and mental health, and this includes growing cannabis in the context of horticultural therapy, an established psychological treatment.

9) My home is my “castle.” This age-old idiom is grounded in the perceived principle that, as the “ruler” of my space, I can do as I please within it. No one dare enter my home without permission! Thus, six cannabis plants near the shed out back shouldn’t matter anymore than a few grape vines.

10) Induce a new injustice. How is it morally right for police, SWAT and the full force of the law to burst into my castle for doing something that is on a grander scale making millions for a 25,000 square foot Level 1 cultivation site just down the road? It isn’t.

There you have it! From the ludicrous idea of banning plant to an unparalleled safety record and comparable policies for more dangerous substances, not to mention affordability, therapy, injustice and hey, just get out of my castle, the legal growing marijuana for personal use in the confines of a personal space, aka home, is an idea whose time has finally come as envisioned once upon a time.

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