Setting Cannabis Home Grow Standards Across Europe
Current proposals range from 4-5 plants – but is this a number based on any kind of reality?
Malta has just allowed it. Luxembourg and Portugal are on the brink of doing so. Germany almost certainly will put language in place allowing the same.
The real question is how are governments coming up with this number? Further, does it really do anything other than supply recreational users who are diligent with their horticultural efforts? And perhaps more importantly, will patients be bound by the same regulations?
The reality is that this critical part of reform is not getting the attention it deserves.
A Numbers Game
As anyone who has actually grown cannabis knows, a successful, bountiful grow takes a couple of things to maximize yield. The first is the right growing environment. Indoors, which is ideal for users in Europe, requires a good LED light, a grow tent, fans, and an extractor. This is easily a four-to-six-hundred-dollar investment (at the low end). Outdoors, it means that you are limited to one crop a year.
Beyond this, there is then yield to consider. A good cultivar can yield about 400-600 grams per plant every three to four months. An auto strain (meaning that the plant produces flower regardless of light intensity) can speed up this process to two months per crop, although yields tend to be lower. The bottom line is even if you use a high-yielding auto flower crop, you are unlikely to get more than 1 kilo of flower per plant every two months.
Most recreational users cannot use 4-5 kilos of flower every two months. Most patients can. But this is just the optimal situation. More likely is the production of perhaps several kilos a year.
This is fine for the average recreational user. It is, however, sub-optimal for those who need the most help.
Decrim and Patient Licensing
Another option, which has not caught on in Europe, yet, is the idea of issuing limited cultivation permits for patients and patient groups. This ensures that a person who needs a steady and larger than average amount of cannabis will be kept in meds without bankrupting them. It does not mean that a cannabis patient cannot go to a doctor too and obtain some help with regulated meds too.
It also creates a non-profit medical market. See Canada.
This concept is problematic in a highly regulated medical market like most European countries. However, so is the reality that a majority of patients who should qualify for treatment not being able to access it without incredible hurdles or the possibility of a criminal conviction.
The bottom line is that every European country is still struggling with acceptance – and that starts with a humane home grow policy beyond creating an infrastructure that helps the legitimate industry flourish.