Home Grows Are Not Guaranteed, by Bill Downing

Testimony to the Marijuana Committee, April 3, 2017


Dear Committee chairs and members,


I am Bill Downing, a father and husband, a business and home owner and I teach four courses on growing marijuana at the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis in Natick. I am very familiar with growing marijuana in Massachusetts, both indoors and out.


The assumption that growing any given number of marijuana plants will yield any given amount of dried marijuana bud is baseless. Unless seeds are treated with a mutagen, half of the plants grown to mid-summer will be “culled” (killed). Those half will be male plants, which do not produce buds. Many, if not most, home-growers are not aware that male plants do not produce buds, much less how to distinguish between a male and female plant.


Another huge limitation is the toxicity of tap-water to roots. Well-water/lake/river/spring water or carefully filtered water are required. Growers can expect about 50% mortality of sprouts and cuttings using plain tap/hose water.



Many home-growers are unaware that cannabis seeds from tropical regions will not fully mature before frost ends our growing season in Massachusetts. Only certain strains, with genetic origins in temperate regions will mature early enough.

Late season rain here in Massachusetts saturates thick, heavy buds. We don’t have long enough dry periods between rains in the fall. Often half the harvest is lost to mold/mildew/fungus. In 2015 a strong, mid-summer hail storm severely damaged a Weston medical marijuana patient’s pot patch. Such things are not uncommon.



Setting-up a decent indoor home-grow operation requires over $1,000 in equipment and the services of licensed electrician and a plumber.


To grow a plant large enough to yield one pound of dried bud would require a15 gallon pot. Indoors such a plant would required a dedicated 400-600 watt lamp.


From my considerable experience with typical home-grown marijuana, an average yield will be about 2 ounces per plant, with a good yield at 3 ounces per plant.


With an outdoor grow and its single annual growing season per year, your average grower will yield about 12 ounces a year – a very modest yield.  A three-season indoor grow would yield a more reasonable 36 ounces per year.


While my experience speaks to the reasonableness of allowing at least 6 plants per adult, I, in no way, believe it is our government’s right to limit our freedom so capriciously.


The belief that adults should be limited from growing however much marijuana they care to is based on antique, discarded prohibitionist ideology.


Marijuana prohibition was completely ineffective and never prevented people from growing pot. Setting plant limits will inspire police to continue SWATting marijuana users so they can count plants. It will justify the black helicopters we had search the Vineyard and Amherst areas for a few plants here and there last fall.


Three presidential elections in a row, the voters of Massachusetts have told our law-makers to stop the war on marijuana users. Plant counts keep the war in our homes and yards. Please stop the war and leave us be.



Bill Downing