As cannabis legislation changes and evolves throughout the United States, each state has its own unique set of rules and guidelines regarding the cultivation and consumption of the plant. This article explores the specific considerations and best practices for growing cannabis in the state of Missouri.
Legal Status and Regulation
As of the last update in September 2021, medical cannabis is legal in Missouri for qualified patients with a state-approved medical marijuana card. However, recreational use remains illegal. Before beginning a cultivation project, growers must be well-informed about current regulations, which can be subject to change.
Patients and caregivers in Missouri can apply for a cultivation license that allows them to grow up to six flowering marijuana plants, six non-flowering plants (over 14 inches tall), and six clones (plants under 14 inches tall) per patient. There’s a maximum cap of 18 flowering plants per household.
Commercial cultivation requires a separate license, and the state has set a limited number of licenses to be issued. Any entity interested in commercial cultivation must undergo a rigorous application process.
Climate and Environmental Considerations
Missouri has a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers, which can be challenging for cannabis growers. Here are some factors to consider:
Missouri’s climate is characterized by four distinct seasons, with a short growing season for outdoor cannabis cultivators. Typically, planting in late spring and harvesting in early fall is recommended to avoid frost damage.
Summer months can bring high humidity, which can pose a risk of mold and mildew to cannabis plants. Proper ventilation, spacing of plants, and the use of anti-fungal treatments can help mitigate these risks.
Pests and Diseases
Like any agricultural state, Missouri has its share of pests and diseases. Regular inspections of plants, organic pesticides, and proper hygiene can help protect crops.
Choosing the Right Strain
Given Missouri’s specific climate and legal restrictions, selecting the right cannabis strain is crucial. Growers should consider:
Indica vs. Sativa
Indica strains are generally shorter and bushier, making them suitable for indoor grows or areas with limited height. Sativas are taller and may be more suitable for outdoor grows with enough space.
These strains automatically switch from vegetative growth to flowering after a certain period, regardless of light cycles. They can be ideal for Missouri’s shorter growing season.
Given the potential for mold and pests, strains known for their resilience to these issues might be more suitable for the region.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Cultivation
Both indoor and outdoor cultivation methods have their merits, but the choice depends on individual circumstances, resources, and objectives.
Growing indoors offers more control over the environment, including temperature, light, and humidity. This can be beneficial given Missouri’s variable climate. However, it requires more equipment (like grow lights and ventilation systems) and can lead to higher utility bills.
Growing cannabis outdoors in Missouri can be more challenging due to the short growing season and potential for severe weather. However, it can also be more cost-effective, as plants can benefit from natural sunlight. Using greenhouses or hoop houses can provide some protection from the elements.
Harvesting and Curing
Once cannabis plants reach maturity, the process of harvesting and curing begins. Proper techniques are essential for producing high-quality cannabis.
Timing is crucial. Growers should look for signs that the plant is ready, such as when most of the trichomes (tiny hair-like growths on the buds) turn milky white or amber. Tools should be sterilized, and plants should be handled with care to prevent damage to the buds.
After trimming the harvested buds, they should be hung in a dark, well-ventilated space for 7-10 days. Once buds are dry to the touch, they can be further cured in airtight containers, opened occasionally to allow moisture to escape, for several weeks.
While Missouri’s climate and legal restrictions present certain challenges to cannabis cultivation, with informed choices and careful planning, both medicinal patients and licensed commercial cultivators can successfully grow cannabis in the state. As always, staying updated on state regulations and seeking advice from local experts is key to a successful cultivation operation.