Growing Cannabis in North Dakota

Cannabis, known colloquially as marijuana, has become a significant topic of discussion and interest in the United States due to its increasing acceptance both medically and recreationally. As individual states have begun establishing their own cannabis regulations, cultivation practices must adjust to various regional climates, policies, and demand. One such state navigating its cannabis growing landscape is North Dakota. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to cultivating cannabis in North Dakota, covering legal guidelines, climatic considerations, and best cultivation practices.

Legal Landscape

State Regulation

As of the last update in September 2021, medical marijuana is legal in North Dakota, but recreational use remains illegal. In 2016, the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act legalized the use of medical cannabis for qualifying conditions. This legislation set the groundwork for the establishment of dispensaries, cultivation facilities, and a state regulatory body to oversee the program. However, growing cannabis at home is currently prohibited for both medical patients and the general populace.

Potential growers for medical dispensaries must undergo a rigorous application process, including detailed operation plans and security measures, to ensure they adhere to state regulations.

Federal Considerations

Despite state-level legality, cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level. This classification means that even legal state operations are technically at risk of federal intervention. Therefore, growers in North Dakota must be aware of the federal implications of cannabis cultivation and the potential risks involved.

Climatic Considerations

North Dakota’s climate is classified as a continental climate, which features cold winters and warm summers. These conditions present unique challenges and opportunities for cannabis growers.


Cannabis plants typically thrive in temperatures between 70-85°F (21-29°C) during the day. Nighttime temperatures can dip, but they should remain above 50°F (10°C) to prevent damage to the plants. North Dakota’s summers can align well with these requirements, but its early and late-season frosts can pose challenges for outdoor growers.

Light Cycle

The natural light cycle in North Dakota can be utilized for photoperiod-dependent strains of cannabis. During the summer months, the state experiences long daylight hours, allowing plants to remain in their vegetative state. As days shorten towards the fall, cannabis plants naturally switch to their flowering phase.

Precipitation and Humidity

North Dakota tends to be relatively dry, but occasional heavy rains during the growing season can pose a risk of mold and mildew. Growers should ensure proper spacing and ventilation for outdoor crops to prevent such issues.

Cultivation Methods

Given the state’s climatic challenges, cultivators have developed several methods to grow cannabis effectively in North Dakota.

Indoor Cultivation

Many growers opt for indoor cultivation as it provides control over all environmental factors, from temperature to humidity and light cycles. With the use of hydroponics, aeroponics, or traditional soil-based methods, growers can optimize conditions year-round, ensuring high-quality yields.


Greenhouses offer a compromise between indoor and outdoor growing. By using a greenhouse, cultivators can utilize natural sunlight while still maintaining some control over temperature and humidity. Moreover, greenhouses can extend the growing season by protecting plants from early or late frosts.

Outdoor Cultivation

Though challenging, some experienced growers can produce successful outdoor crops by selecting robust strains and utilizing techniques like low-stress training or screen of green to maximize yields and protect plants from adverse weather.


Growing cannabis in North Dakota presents its set of challenges due to its specific climate and legal landscape. Yet, with careful planning, understanding of state regulations, and the right cultivation techniques, successful cannabis cultivation is feasible. As the legal environment evolves and cultivation methods improve, North Dakota may find its place in the broader U.S. cannabis industry. Future growers are advised to stay updated on state regulations and engage in ongoing learning to remain at the forefront of cannabis cultivation in the region.