Growing Cannabis in Australian Capital Territory

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has seen notable changes in cannabis laws in recent years, particularly concerning cultivation and possession for personal use. This article will provide an in-depth understanding of the current legal framework around cannabis cultivation in ACT, coupled with a guide for hobby growers keen on adhering to the law while pursuing their passion.

Legal Framework: Cannabis in ACT

The Australian Capital Territory decriminalised the possession and cultivation of small quantities of cannabis for personal use in late 2019. As of January 31, 2020, adults aged 18 and over are allowed to:

  • Possess up to 50 grams of dried cannabis.
  • Cultivate up to two cannabis plants per person, with a maximum of four plants per household.
  • Use cannabis in private.

It is crucial for potential growers to note that:

  • It remains illegal to supply or share cannabis.
  • Hydroponic cultivation is not permitted.
  • Cannabis plants must be kept out of public view.
  • It remains illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis, and there are penalties for doing so.

Climate and Geography: Growing Cannabis in ACT

The ACT is situated in the southeastern part of Australia and experiences a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. This climatic pattern has implications for cannabis cultivation:

  • Spring (September to November): This is the most suitable time for planting cannabis outdoors in ACT. Seedlings can be nurtured indoors earlier in late winter and moved outdoors once the threat of frost has passed.
  • Summer (December to February): Cannabis plants typically thrive in these warmer months, provided they receive adequate water and protection from extreme heat or hailstorms.
  • Autumn (March to May): As temperatures start to drop, cannabis plants begin to mature and are ready for harvest. The cooler autumn climate lessens the risk of mould and pests.
  • Winter (June to August): Outdoor cannabis cultivation is not recommended during this time due to cold temperatures and frost, which can harm or kill the plants.

3. Tips for Cultivation

Given the legal and climatic context, here are some tailored tips for hobby growers in the ACT:

  • Choosing Strains: Opt for strains that are well-suited to temperate climates. Some strains have been bred to resist mould and pests, or to flower more quickly, which can be advantageous given ACT’s climate.
  • Soil Preparation: Quality soil is vital. Ensure that your soil is rich in organic matter and has good drainage. Adding compost or organic fertilisers can provide additional nutrients.
  • Watering: Cannabis requires consistent watering, especially during its vegetative stage. However, avoid over-watering, which can lead to root rot.
  • Pest Management: As with any cultivation, cannabis plants can attract pests. Use organic, non-toxic pesticides and consider introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs.

Indoor Cultivation vs. Outdoor Cultivation

While ACT’s laws do not permit hydroponic cultivation, growers can still opt for traditional soil-based indoor cultivation. Both methods have their advantages and challenges:

  • Outdoor Cultivation:
    • Advantages: Utilises natural sunlight which is free, and often results in bigger plants.
    • Challenges: Dependence on weather patterns and increased vulnerability to pests and diseases.
  • Indoor Cultivation:
    • Advantages: Greater control over the growing environment including light, temperature, and humidity. This often results in a more predictable yield.
    • Challenges: High startup costs, including lighting, ventilation, and electricity costs.

Ethical and Responsible Cultivation

While it’s tempting to get carried away by the excitement of cultivating cannabis, it’s essential to remember the broader impacts:

  • Environmental Considerations: Over-watering and excessive use of fertilisers can impact local waterways. Growers should be environmentally conscious and use resources judiciously.
  • Neighbourly Respect: Given the strong smell during the flowering phase, growers should consider their neighbours and possibly employ odour control measures, especially if growing indoors.
  • Safety Precautions: Ensure that the plants are kept away from children and pets. When using any electrical systems for indoor growing, safety must be the top priority to avoid fire risks.


Growing cannabis in the Australian Capital Territory requires a keen understanding of both the local legal framework and the unique climatic conditions of the region. As the legal landscape around cannabis continues to evolve, cultivators in ACT have an exciting opportunity to engage in this ancient practice while staying within the boundaries of the law. It is essential, however, to approach cultivation ethically, responsibly, and with respect for the community and environment.