The Advanced Guide to Getting Your Commercial Grow License

The Advanced Guide to Getting Your Commercial Grow License

Before you spend too much time thinking about your commercial grow room setup cost or how you will develop relationships with retailers who will distribute your cannabis products to consumers, you need to get a commercial grow license that lets you cultivate cannabis plants legally in your state.

Since the federal government still considers cannabis illegal, you will have to rely on guidance from state laws. Unfortunately, each state has its own rules and regulations for the cannabis industry. Getting a commercial grow license in Colorado does not follow the same process as getting a commercial grow license in Oklahoma.

Since the legal cannabis industry involves so much diversity, this advanced guide to getting your commercial grow license will focus on generalities that apply to most situations and direct you to state-specific resources that will help you stay within the law.

Since this guide focuses on commercial grow licenses, you won’t find comprehensive information about medical cannabis cultivation. If your state has legalized medical cannabis, contact the appropriate agency to apply for a medical grow license.

Cut Out the Red Tape and Buy a Cannabis License for Sale

Before getting into the weeds of state-based cannabis licensing, take a few minutes to browse the cannabis licenses for sale on 420 Property. The listings will show you licenses for cultivation and retail, but you can use the keyword filter to narrow your search.

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of applying for a license, you might find it makes more sense to purchase an existing license that will let you start your business as soon as possible.

Where to Get a Commercial Grow License in Your State

The following list will help you contact the right agency to apply for a commercial grow license in your state. Keep in mind that state laws change frequently. If you don’t see your state on this list, search the internet to learn more about getting a license there. You could discover that your state does not allow cannabis cultivation or that it just recently started accepting applications for commercial grow licenses.


In Alaska, the Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office processes commercial grow licenses. The office’s website provides useful information that will help you complete all documents correctly and understand the cost of getting or renewing a license.


The Arizona Department of Health Services can give you information about commercial cannabis cultivation. The department also has information about medical cannabis, so make sure you read the application process that applies to your plans.


California was one of the earliest states to embrace cannabis law reform. Despite its early adoption, it has complicated laws for medical dispensaries, recreational storefronts, and cultivators. You can find the information that applies to your licensing needs at the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.


Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational cannabis. It has been at the forefront of cannabis legalization, but it also takes regulations seriously. You can learn more about getting a cultivation permit from the Colorado Cannabis website.


Illinois recently passed recreational cannabis, so it’s still learning how to put some of its regulations in place. You can find the latest information about applying for a cultivation license on the Illinois Department of Agriculture website.


You can access cultivation and other types of permits directly from Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy.


You can get guidance for cultivation permit applications from the Cannabis Control Commission in Massachusetts.


Reach out to the Marijuana Regulatory Agency for help applying for cultivation permits, opening storefronts, and understanding the state’s commitment to social equity within the cannabis industry.


After years of trying to pass recreational cannabis laws, the State of Nevada finally succeeded in 2019. You can search existing licenses and learn more about applying for a commercial grow license from the Cannabis Compliance Board.

New York

New York only passed recreational cannabis laws in 2021, so it doesn’t have all of its licensing requirements in place yet. Unfortunately, the state has faced numerous setbacks. Visit the Office of Cannabis Management website to learn the latest news about the state’s progress.


All cannabis applications get processed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. You can find applications and requirements on its website.


Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board processes, approves, and rejects applications for commercial and medical grow licenses. See the board’s website for more information.


You will need to apply with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to get a commercial grow license. The website also offers regulatory guidance to help you submit a successful application.

How Much Do Commercial Grow Licenses Cost?

Obtaining a commercial grow license can cost quite a bit of money, but the price varies significantly from state to state.

In Washington, you must pay a $250 application fee and an annual license fee that costs about $1,500. Vermont charges considerably higher fees. Expect to pay an annual fee of $25,000 after your first year of production.

California has a rather complex fee system. The amount you pay depends on several factors, such as where you plan to grow your cannabis and how you expect to make money from your product. For example, a small outdoor grow operation can expect to pay $535 in annual license application fees, while a medium indoor operation will pay $8,655.

California also has diverse fees for renewing annual permits. A specialty indoor operation pays $19,540, while a medium indoor operation pays $77,905.

Considering the vast differences in commercial grow license costs, you should take extra care when filling out your application. You don’t want to waste money on an application that doesn’t accurately describe your cultivation location and methods.

The Expected Commercial Grow Room Setup Cost

Assuming that you plan to create an indoor grow room that will give you more control over your crops, you should consider how your setup costs will affect your budget. On average, commercial grow room setups tend to cost about $42 per square foot.

The type of facility and the equipment you choose can change that estimate significantly, though. Converting a warehouse into a grow room might not cost as much as building a greenhouse. Your irrigation, nutritional, lighting, pest control, and other systems will also influence how much your grow room setup costs.

Higher setup costs aren’t always a negative thing for commercial growers. If you want to care for 500 plants, you might find you can accomplish much of the labor manually. If you want to care for 5,000 plants, though, it potentially makes more sense for you to spend more money on an automated system that can measure moisture and soil pH to optimize growth.

Other Expenses to Expect Before Getting Your Commercial Grow License

Getting into the recreational cannabis industry isn’t a cheap endeavor. Spending money on the right products and services, however, can help ensure your success. You don’t want to lose thousands of dollars on permit fees and real estate because you didn’t want to spend money on helpful services and products.

You can use 420 Property to find trustworthy professionals with the experience you need to build a successful cultivation business. Some of the professionals you should talk to include:

  • Business consultants who can review your business plan and offer advice for improvement.
  • Accountants and CPAs who can help manage your money.
  • Architects and designers who can make the most of your indoor cultivation space.
  • Environmental experts who can recommend soil supplements to improve crop growth and health.
  • Appraisers who can help ensure you pay a reasonable price for your cultivation real estate.
  • Insurers who will make sure you have all of the policies needed to protect yourself, business partners, and company from liability.

If you do not have enough capital to fund your cultivation startup, 420 Property can help connect you with private lenders that work within the cannabis and hemp industry. Unfortunately, banks must follow federal laws, so they will not work with cannabis cultivators even when they operate in legal states.

Considering how quickly the recreational cannabis industry has grown over the last decade, it often makes sense for entrepreneurs to start their commercial grow operations as soon as possible. Otherwise, you could miss opportunities as states limit permits and other companies gain prominence with retail stores and customers.

Get a Commercial Grow License on 420 Property

Obviously, it can take a lot of work to get your commercial grow license. Save yourself the trouble by browsing the licenses available on 420 Property. Instead of filling out mountains of paperwork, you can buy an existing license directly from the current owner.

As more states legalize commercial cannabis, permits will become available on 420 Property. For example, many experts believe that Oklahoma will pass recreational laws to complement its medicinal cannabis dispensaries. If that happens, you might find that buying cultivation licenses helps you start growing as soon as possible.

Find your next 420 property today!

July 19, 2021Comments Off
Principles of Effective Indoor Cultivation Facility Design

Indoor cannabis cultivation offers several advantages that can give businesses significant control over the quality of their products. Trying to grow plants indoors, however, can also present several challenges that require creative problem-solving to overcome. Luckily, you are not the first person to think about indoor cultivation facility design, so you can build on the work of those who came before you.

Maximize Space to Increase Revenue and Lower Overhead

When you grow cannabis or other plants outdoors, you have a single light source that forces you to think about using a horizontal pattern. For example, you use rows when you plant crops in a field. By putting your plants in rows, you help ensure they all get adequate exposure to sunlight.

Indoor cultivation facility design doesn’t force you to think in horizontal terms. In fact, you can make the space considerably more efficient by thinking about your layout on horizontal and vertical levels.

When you maximize the space of your indoor grow operation, you can place racks several feet above each other. Depending on the type of cannabis strains you grow, you can expect them to reach anywhere from 4 to 7 feet tall. Arrange your racks like bookshelves with enough room in between for your plants. Suddenly, a 1,000-square-foot grow room with 15-foot-high walls gives you at least 2,000 square feet of space to grow your plants.

The taller your ceilings are, the more shelves and lights you can add.

Keep this in mind when you visit warehouse spaces that you might buy or lease. The floor’s size matters, but the room’s height matters just as much. The taller your room gets, the more plants you can grow.

You will, of course, need to install LED lights above each rack of plants. The light panels essentially act as artificial suns that your plants turn into energy to grow. Having more lights means spending more money on equipment and electricity. If the cost of your equipment and utilities is lower than the price of a “larger” warehouse space, then it makes sense for you to maximize the smaller area. By doing so, you increase your revenue and lower your overhead.

Are you still trying to determine how much warehouse space you need for your indoor cultivation facility? It probably makes more sense for you to lease a warehouse or industrial space so you can avoid the financial commitment of buying real estate.

Browse more than 100 warehouse and industrial spaces for lease on 420 Property to find options that look promising to you.

Grow Your Cannabis Plants in Multiple, Isolated Rooms

Ideally, growing cannabis indoors can help you avoid pests and diseases. When you have more control over your growing environment, you can keep out pests, viruses, and bacteria that damage crops.

Anyone who has spent enough time growing cannabis, however, has a horror story about an entire crop getting wiped out within days. Indoor cultivation might keep out most pests, but it also keeps out most beneficial insects. When something harmful finds its way into your grow op, it can destroy dozens or hundreds of plants before you have an opportunity to intervene.

You don’t have to risk all of your plants just because you decide to grow indoors. Instead, get grow room blueprints that include several isolated areas. Don’t just put up a partial barrier that lets you identify the different strains you grow throughout your warehouse. You want floor-to-ceiling separation that prevents viruses and pests from reaching your plants.

If something terrible happens to one room of cannabis, the isolation barriers will prevent the problem from spreading to other rooms. You might lose 100 plants, but you could save 1,000.

You can make your indoor cultivation facility design even more effective by requiring all employees to sanitize their equipment and change their clothes before working in the next room. If your gloves pick up cucumber mosaic virus while working in the Blue Dream room, changing your outerwear and gloves will prevent the virus from spreading to the Northern Lights room.

Do you need an experienced professional to build isolated grow rooms for your cultivation business? Explore listings on 420 Property to find a contractor who can improve the health of your grow op. Building isolated rooms is often an affordable way to save your business from financial ruin.

Design Your Cultivation Facility for Limited Contact

Disease prevention is so important that it deserves a separate — although slightly different — section. A virus can enter your facility through any number of ways. You might buy a diseased plant, your substrate might contain a virus, etc. More often than not, though, the virus gets spread by the people working in your cultivation facility.

Establishing strict guidelines for cleanliness will certainly help reduce the risk of disease. You can go a giant step further, though, by limiting access to your plants.

Honestly, your employees don’t need frequent access to your plants. The plants need light, water, and nutrients. They don’t need workers wandering through the rows, sniffing the wonderful aromas, and enjoying the stickiness of the buds. Yes, everyone wants to experience these joyous plants, but every physical interaction creates another opportunity for spreading sickness.

Adding windows to your walls is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to lower interactions between people and plants. You don’t even necessarily need glass windows. Sealed plastic can do the job perfectly well.

By adding windows to your walls, you create a way for employees to “check in” on plants without risking exposure to viruses. No one needs to enter the room to inspect leaves and flowers. Just look through the window to see how the plants are doing.

You can go as simple or extravagant as you want when designing rooms that limit contact between plants and workers. If you want to invest in an innovative design you believe will work better than standard windows, you can contact the architects listed on 420 Property. They should have the skills to draw blueprints that show precisely where windows, doors, viewing portals, and other features go.

Consider a High-Density Cultivation System to Increase Yield in Small Spaces

At this point, you might be thinking about the large warehouse space you leased or purchased. Hmm. It seems like you’ll need to divide that big space into several smaller rooms. In the process, you might need to rethink your whole approach to how you cultivate cannabis plants.

If you discover that building walls to separate grow rooms from each other leaves you with cramped spaces, consider adopting a high-density cultivation system.

This problem sounds very high-tech. Honestly, some of the systems are. You can find high-density systems that come with automated lighting and irrigation. You don’t need to tend your crops. The computer does it for you. You are 100% correct when you assume that these systems cost a lot of money!

You don’t have to opt for the latest, most expensive cultivation system, however. The simplest approach doesn’t cost much at all. You just need stable shelves that move along a rail. You may have seen shelves like these in libraries before. You walk into a room with a dozen bookshelves placed against each other. Before you can access the book you want, you need to move some of the shelves out of the way. Most of today’s models have motors that let you move shelves by pressing a button. If you want to go old school, though, you can still find systems that use hand cranks.

What matters most is that you get a way to consolidate your plants into the smallest space possible. Think about it this way: You only need space between rows when you want to walk down them and inspect your plants. The plants don’t need that much distance between rows. They will sit next to each other happily (assuming that you follow cleanliness protocols that prevent disease).

With a high-density system, you eliminate nearly all of the space between your rows. You practically double your production space!

Designate Areas for Each Life Stage of Your Plants

The cannabis plant’s needs differ throughout its life. Giving your plants what they want should improve their health, lead to higher yields, and increase the quality of your flowers. And let’s be frank. Everyone wants beautiful flowers. The more attractive your flowers are, the more retail stores will spend on them.

You need to create at least four separate areas for the life stages of your cannabis plants.

Stage One: The Germination Room

Cannabis seeds usually need between three and 10 days to germinate. During that time, you should give them 16 hours of light followed by eight hours of darkness. Too much or too little light exposure can slow their growth. You might think it makes sense to keep the lights on 24 hours a day to encourage rapid germination. Nearly every master grower will tell you not to do this. Imagine how well you would perform without any rest for several days in a row!

Stage Two: The Seedling Room

Once your seeds sprout and you see a couple of small leaves at the top, you can move them to the seedling room. After moving them to the seedling room, transplant the cannabis plants to individual pots. Over the next two to three weeks, they will grow more leaves and increase in size. At some point, you will look at your plants and recognize the well-known leaf pattern of cannabis.

You keep the light cycle to 16 hours on and eight hours off in the seedling room. These are growing babies. They need plenty of energy.

At this stage, give your plants a minimum amount of water. They have very shallow roots. Giving them too much water could damage or even kill your plants. Just keep the soil moist and trust your plants to do their jobs.

Stage Three: The Vegetative Room

Once you have what is obviously a cannabis plant, you want to move it to the vegetative room, where each plant has more space to grow. Move your plants into larger containers so their roots can deepen. At this point in the life cycle, they need macronutrients and micronutrients almost as much as they need light. You’ll probably need to add nitrogen to the soil to keep your plants fertilized.

Speaking of light, you want to provide 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness during this stage for your indoor grow operation. Anyone growing cannabis outdoors would want to get at least six hours of direct sunlight and as much indirect light as possible.

Your plants will grow rapidly during this stage. As they get larger, begin training and topping the plants. You want to encourage outward growth. Tall plants might look impressive, but they don’t usually produce as many flowers as plants that are kept on the shorter end.

Your plants will stay in the vegetative room for three to 16 weeks. It really just depends on the plant’s genetics and the growing environment.

At this point, you also want to double-check the sex of your plants. You don’t want any male plants near your female plants. Keeping them separate will encourage the female plants to grow larger, stickier flowers in an attempt to capture pollen from the male plants. Separating the plants will also prevent annoying seeds from growing in your buds. No one wants to discover seeds in top-shelf cannabis. That can ruin your brand’s reputation and make your team look like a bunch of amateurs.

Stage Four: The Flowering Room

As soon as you notice your maturing plants start to form little buds, move them to the flowering room. Your flowers will probably reach their full potential within nine weeks, although some strains take up to 11 weeks. Expect sativa varieties to grow slower than indica and hybrid varieties.

Finally, you get to cut back on the amount of light your plants get. Your marijuana plants should receive 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness to maximize flower production.

During this phase, you can trim some of the extraneous leaves from your plants. You want as much energy as possible to go to the flowers. Any energy devoted to continued plant growth will just reduce the potency and size of your nugs.

Stage Five: The Drying (Curing) Room

When your flowers finish growing, they will have a sticky coating on them. They should also have a pungent aroma. These are good signs of excellent cannabis!

Before you package and send them to your distributor, you need to dry the flowers (some people call it “curing” — the words mean the same thing).

Remove all the leaves from your plants and hang the stems upside down so that the flowers droop toward the ground. Do not throw away the leaves! They’re far less valuable than your flowers, but they still contain beneficial chemical compounds, including THC and CBD. If you own an extraction system, you can use it to remove compounds from your leftover plant matter. If you don’t, sell the plant matter to an extraction company. There’s no reason to let the leaves go to waste.

You can expect your flowers to dry for about two weeks. Some people claim that they get the best results by curing their buds for months. Perhaps they get slightly better results from their methods, but it’s not a cost-effective way to run an indoor cultivation facility. You need to sell your flowers as soon as they’re ready. Then, you can use the revenue to start the process over again with a fresh crop of cannabis.

Are you interested in adding an extraction system to your indoor cultivation facility design? You can find plenty of systems for sale on 420 Property. Companies also sell lab equipment that you might find useful when marketing your products to distributors and retailers.

Make Your Workflow as Efficient as Possible

Efficiency drives success in practically every industry these days. If you can’t produce quality items quickly, your competitors will edge you out. The cannabis industry might be full of friendly people willing to offer advice, but they’re also experienced entrepreneurs who recognize opportunities when they spot them.

Making your workflow as efficient as possible will lower your overhead by reducing the number of staff members you need and how many hours those people work each day. A good flow will also reduce confusion and encourage people to focus on each task.

Some labor efficiencies are pretty obvious. For example, you know that you will move your seedlings from your germination room to the seedling room. Why not position those rooms next to each other? Don’t unthinkingly put them at opposite ends of the building. That will force your team members to move fragile plants over a longer distance than necessary. It will increase your overhead and increase the risk of damaging plants.

Investing in automated systems can also improve efficiency and lower your labor costs. Automated irrigation systems don’t cost nearly as much as they did a decade ago. Many of them even include sensors that can provide the perfect amount of water for each plant. A human cannot water cannabis that accurately.

If you want a simpler system that costs less money, opt for drip lines that connect to all the plants in a room. That way, you only need to turn on the water, let the drip lines do their job, and turn off the water to avoid soaking the plants.

Another benefit of streamlining workflows through automation? You may already see this coming — reduced risk of disease. When you have someone going from plant to plant with a watering can or hose, you run the risk of spreading disease from one plant to hundreds of plants. An automated system or drip line system will not eliminate the risk, but it lowers the risk significantly.

Use 420 Property to Find Real Estate for Your Indoor Cultivation Facility Design

Many cannabis growers find that effective indoor cultivation facility design supercharges their business success. Making a few changes can have huge effects on your product quality, yield, and efficiency.

If you already have a facility design in mind, start browsing warehouse spaces for lease and warehouse spaces for sale on 420 Property. Otherwise, reach out to architects and designers who can help you create an indoor setup that helps your cannabis company thrive.

Find your next 420 property today!

July 19, 2021Comments Off
The Essential Checklist for Grow Operation Setup

You have a passion for growing high-quality cannabis that enhances the lives of consumers. That’s the first step toward building a successful business. Any cultivation experiences that you might have had, however, can’t completely prepare you for a commercial grow op setup. The following checklist will help ensure you have all the equipment, supplies, real estate, and professionals you need to cultivate cannabis products your buyers will love!

#1: A Space for Cultivating Your Cannabis Crops

You can’t start your business until you have a location where you can collect all of your supplies and equipment. Having a location could also help you get a cultivation permit from your state (more on that shortly). The question becomes, what kind of property do you need for a commercial grow op setup?

Warehouse Grow Operation Space

An existing warehouse might give you all the room you need for each stage of a plant’s development. Some people think they will get terrific results from a warehouse with one huge room. Technically, you can do that. You could set up a gigantic grow operation in an airplane hangar or similar structure. More often than not, though, successful cultivators choose warehouse grow op spaces with multiple rooms.

Why do you need multiple rooms?

The primary reason is that you don’t want to keep too many plants in the same space. If viruses or pests invade a room, they might spread to all the plants in that area.

By creating several rooms, you establish boundaries that make it difficult for viruses and insects to affect all your plants. You might lose the plants in one room (a tragedy in itself!), but you can protect hundreds of other cannabis plants.

The secondary reason is that you can establish independent spaces for each stage of a plant’s life. This makes it easy for all of your employees to know how they should treat your crops. The plants in the germination room get 16 hours of light each day. The mature plants in the flowering room get 12 hours of light. When you keep plants in designated areas, it becomes much easier for everyone on your staff — including those with limited experience — to care for the cannabis.

Obviously, buying a warehouse will cost quite a bit of money. Some warehouse and industrial spaces in green zones only cost a few hundred thousand dollars. Your business can probably afford to make that investment.

Explore the warehouse and industrial listings for sale on 420 Property to compare your options.

Maybe you’re brand new to the industry and you’re operating on a shoestring budget. In that case, you should consider leasing warehouse or industrial space. You can find plenty of green zone properties for lease on 420 Property.

#2: A Lighting System That Encourages Fast, Healthy Growth

When you grow cannabis on a farm or in a greenhouse, you don’t have to worry about lighting. The sun does the job for you. That’s not the case when it comes to a warehouse grow operation. You need an artificial source of lighting that will encourage fast, healthy growth.

Buying lights is going to cost money. Then, you need to pay for the electricity that runs the light panels or bulbs. The good news is that artificial lights give you control over the light spectrum, so you can potentially grow more cannabis flowers in your warehouse grow operation setup.

You actually want to use two types of lighting when growing cannabis indoors. That’s another reason that it makes sense to choose a warehouse with multiple rooms.

During the vegetative stage of a plant’s development, you want light that encourages the entire plant to grow. You want big leaves that absorb light easily. You want thick stems that will support big buds.

At this stage of growth, choose lights between 400 and 500 nm (scientists measure light wavelengths in nanometers, but you don’t need to worry about the details of how it all works). You won’t believe how much more quickly your cannabis plants grow under those lights than they do outside in the sunlight.

Once your plants start to flower, you want to switch to lights in the 620 to 780 nm range. This “warmer” range of the spectrum will encourage your plants to direct more of their energy to growing flowers instead of adding to their height.

(The science behind using the 620 to 780 nm light range for growing larger buds is actually pretty interesting. Typically, cannabis growing outdoors will flower during late summer. At this time of year, more sunlight gets filtered through the planet’s atmosphere. The plants have evolved to recognize this light range to mean that it’s time to reproduce before temperatures fall.)

#3: An Irrigation System for the Perfect Amount of Moisture

You have to love how much control a good commercial grow op setup gives you. Outdoor farms often have to deal with periods of too much and too little rain. Your plants are practically downing for half the time and parched the other half. A warehouse grow setup with a reliable irrigation system lets you give plants the perfect amount of moisture.

You have a few options when choosing irrigation systems. Honestly, any of them can get the job done. The one you choose depends more on how much money you can spend and how much work you want to do.

Drip Irrigation Systems

Drip irrigation systems are tubes that connect to all of your planting pots. Some of them hang above the pots, and some of them rest along the substrate. (Fickle cultivators may tell you to choose a system that’s as close to the substrate as possible. Reducing the amount of moisture on your plant might lower your risk of fungus. Sometimes a little fickleness is a good thing.)

When you want to water your plants, you connect the tube to your water supply and turn it on. When the plants have received enough moisture, you turn it off. That’s it.

Automatic Irrigation Systems

If you want to save time, give plants the perfect amount of water, and don’t mind spending more money, you can choose an automatic irrigation system. This type of system uses sensors to measure the amount of moisture in the substrate. When the level gets low enough, it delivers water to your plants. Once the levels look correct, it turns off the water. It really couldn’t get easier than that.

The Necessities of Irrigation

Regardless of what irrigation system you choose, remember that cannabis doesn’t like getting too wet. Standing water can cause mold and fungus. In extreme cases, it can also cause root rot, which will kill your plant. As long as you have moist soil without any standing water, you probably have happy plants!

#4: A Substrate Formulated Specifically for Cannabis

We mentioned substrates above but didn’t get into what it actually is. Generally speaking, the substrate is the material that your cannabis plants grow in. If you grow cannabis outside in the ground, the substrate is “dirt.”

Growers use the word “substrate” instead of dirt because it includes a wider range of options. And it sounds fancy. In all seriousness, though, the type of substrate you choose can have a big influence on your plants.

Some common commercial substrates include mixtures of:

  • Perlite
  • Vermiculite
  • Coconut fiber
  • Peat
  • Tree bark

These ingredients create a porous mixture that helps roots grow deep.

If you want to set up a hydroponic grow operation, you will probably use expanded clay pebbles as your substrate (and water, but that goes without saying).

DIY or Buy?

At this point, you’re probably wondering where to get enough of the right materials for your grow op’s substrate. You have two options. You can either make your own substrate or buy premixed substrate from a commercial supplier.

Any substrate that you buy from a respectable supplier will work well. You just need to call the supplier and talk to the representative. They might choose a specific option for you depending on the strain you grow, the temperature of your rooms, and other factors. It’s a complicated science, and they know what they’re talking about.

As you gain experience as a cultivator, you might want to experiment with mixing your own substrates. That’s perfectly fine. The internet offers endless recipes that will tell you how much of each material to include in the mix. The DIY approach can be fun, and you might discover that you get better results from a proprietary blend. Don’t expect your homemade substrate to outperform commercial options, though, until you’ve done a lot of research and testing.

For now, just buy from a supplier with a reputation for excellent products and strong customer service.

#5: Cleaning and Sterilization Supplies

Far too many new cannabis cultivators forget to put cleaning and sterilization supplies on their grow operation setup checklists.

Disease is your enemy. It’s also cannabis’s enemy. Unfortunately, many viruses, such as cucumber mosaic virus and alfalfa mosaic virus, will quickly kill your plants. You can literally lose months of work within a couple of days. It’s a heartbreaking experience for everyone who helped grow the plants. Of course, it’s most heartbreaking for the business owner who faces significant financial loss and missed opportunities to build relationships with distributors.

Nearly all of the viruses that damage or kill cannabis get spread by contact. Giving your plants a few extra inches of space will help reduce the risk of disease. Realistically, though, that’s not how the viruses spread. They spread with help from humans.

Let’s say you use your pruning shears to snip off some leaves that a plant doesn’t need. You don’t know it, but that plant has a deadly virus. Then, you spot a cannabis plant on the other side of the room that could also use a good trim. If you don’t sterilize your pruning shears between plants, you will spread the virus to every plant you work on.

You can even spread viruses with your hands. It’s a great joy to run your hands through cannabis leaves. It’s so tempting to touch a sticky bud and get your nose as close as possible so you can breathe in the bouquet. You should enjoy the cannabis you grow. It’s a beautiful plant that enhances pleasure all over the world! After you touch a plant, though, you need to sterilize your hands. Otherwise, you could kill the very organisms that you love.

Products That Really Kill Viruses

If you hang out with friends who like to grow a few plants for personal use, you probably hear all kinds of opinions about how you should sterilize equipment to kill viruses.

For some reason, pine oil has become a trendy way to clean gardening tools. Pine oil is great for some things, but you would have to soak your tools in it for half an hour to kill pathogens. Even then, you might not kill them all. In other words, don’t use pine oil.

Cleaners that work include:

  • Bleach (use one part bleach to nine parts water)
  • Isopropyl alcohol (no diluting required)

These are your two best options. Each has good and bad things about it. Luckily, they’re both very inexpensive.

The problem with bleach is that you have to soak your tools for about half an hour to make sure you kill all pathogens. You can practically eliminate this problem by mixing a bucket of bleach water in the morning and placing your tools in the bucket after use. Hang them up to dry at the end of the day (or at any point of the day when you know you will not use the tools for at least half an hour).

Isopropyl alcohol is awesome because you don’t have to wait. It kills pathogens on contact. Put a spray bottle of it in each room. A couple of squirts will clean your tools within seconds, making your cultivation work more efficient.

What’s the downside to isopropyl alcohol? It has a pretty obnoxious odor. Depending on your sensitivity, it could cause a burning sensation in your nose and eyes. It works well, but it’s also annoying to work with.

#6: Racks for Your Plants

Hypothetically, you could grow your plants on the floor. Expect significant back pain by the end of your shift, though.

Realistically, you need racks that will hold your plants at a convenient height. If you want to maximize your grow operation setup, you can even use tiered racks. Take advantage of a room’s high ceiling to add more racks and grow more plants in the same room.

As you look into your racking options, you will find some high-tech designs that maximize space incredibly well. Have you ever been to a library that keeps all of its bookcases pressed against each other? You have to mechanically move the cases to find the book you want. That’s the kind of system that will really help you grow more plants in a small space. Expect to pay a premium for it, though!

#7: Safety Equipment for Workers

This is another group of items that gets left off of too many checklists. We think of cannabis as a friendly plant that eases pain and makes us feel good. Your opinion might change after you spend a few hours trimming buds.

The sticky resin that coats cannabis flowers can irritate skin terribly.

Make sure your team members have all the safety equipment they need to prevent injuries. Gloves are just the start. Since your employees probably work with fertilizers and other chemicals, you should also give them access to eye washing stations, goggles, and full-body coverings.

#8: Ventilation and Humidity Control

Cannabis likes a little humidity. It seems to love a cool breeze. You know what it hates? Chemical fumes that slowly accumulate in your grow rooms!

Ventilation and humidity control systems will solve these issues and keep your plants happy. The type you buy really depends on the size of your operation. A small room might only need a few fans. A multi-room commercial operation probably needs a full ventilation system.

Connect to Professionals on 420 Property for Grow Operation Setup Advice

At 420 Property, we do more than help you find real estate for cannabis cultivation and selling. Browse our list of professionals to find someone who can give you expert advice about setting up your commercial grow operation. Spend a little money on professional guidance so you can make more money selling your cannabis crop. It’s not a hard decision!

Find your next property today!

July 19, 2021Comments Off
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Grow Op?

How much does it cost to start a cannabis grow operation? It’s an essential question that you must ask yourself before you begin making serious plans to start a cannabis cultivation business. It’s an essential question … but it’s also a very difficult question to answer.

The fact of the matter is that numerous factors will influence how much you need for a grow op setup. Unfortunately, your expenses don’t end after you buy all the equipment and supplies you need to grow healthy cannabis plants.

The following article cannot give you a specific amount of money that you need to start a grow op. Even an experienced cannabis business consultant can only give you a ballpark figure.

We can, however, review some of the expenses that you can expect to encounter, give you some estimates, and explain how your business plan will influence the amount of money you need to get started.

Expenses to Expect When Deciding How Much It Costs to Start a Grow Op Setup

Let’s start by reviewing the expenses that every indoor cannabis grow operation can expect to pay.

Permit Fees and Taxes

Plenty of states pass recreational cannabis laws because they want to collect additional tax revenue. It’s a win-win for the state and consumers. It’s also a good thing for business owners who want to enter an extremely lucrative industry. Unfortunately, the arrangement means that you will spend a lot of money on permit fees and taxes.

The amount of money that states charge varies significantly from place to place. Most states will also charge you varying amounts depending on the size of your grow operation. If you have a fairly small grow op, you might pay a $1,000 application fee compared to the $5,000 fee that a large warehouse would pay.

Don’t make any assumptions about how much you will need to spend on your application and taxes. Your state has an agency that can give you accurate information. The agencies aren’t always as easy to find as you might think, though. Some states even let their alcohol bureaus regulate cannabis.

Get accurate fees and tax estimates by reaching out to an accountant or CPA with experience working in the cannabis industry. Plenty of knowledgeable professionals advertise their services on 420 Property. Look for listings in your area so you can talk to an expert who knows your local laws and fees.

Cultivation, Office, and Packaging Space

If you want to start an indoor grow op, you probably want to find warehouse space that has been zoned for the cannabis industry. Don’t assume that every building can become a cannabis grow operation. Most cities have strict laws about where you can grow cannabis.

You will also need room for packaging your products and conducting business.

How much space do you need in a warehouse? That completely depends on how much cannabis you want to grow and how much money you have to spend.

A lot of companies start by leasing warehouse space. Leasing has several advantages for startup businesses. For example, you get to avoid the large down payment you would need to get a mortgage — of course, that assumes that a lender will even give you a mortgage on property where you plan to grow cannabis. Instead of the high, upfront cost, you pay a monthly rate.

You also get to avoid much of the warehouse’s maintenance. If the water main breaks, your landlord will have to fix it. It’s not your responsibility because you don’t own the property.

Of course, there are disadvantages to leasing warehouse space. Some landlords with property in green zones don’t want to lease warehouse space to cannabis cultivators. As long as the federal government considers marijuana illegal, you will encounter people unwilling to do business with you.

You might also discover that your landlord wants to raise your monthly payments after the first year ends. You can always negotiate to keep your rate, but property owners don’t have to let you keep your business there once your year-long contract ends. They could simply raise your rent by such a large amount that you can’t afford the lease.

You can save yourself a lot of problems by using 420 Property to find warehouse and industrial space owned by people interested in the cannabis industry. The database has hundreds of listings with green zone properties for sale. The listings include information about price, size, and features, so you can make a decision that fits your business plan.

You can also browse hundreds of warehouse and industrial spaces for lease. Some of the listings include warehouses that various companies have used for years. Others will direct you to new buildings constructed specifically for cannabis cultivators.

Take time to review your options so you can get a good idea of how much green zone property costs to purchase or lease in your area.

Equipment and Supplies

The equipment and supplies your grow operation needs depends on how much you plan to grow and what you plan to do with plant material — if you plan to extract chemicals from plants, for instance, you might take a different approach to growing them.

Typically, you can expect to buy the following equipment for your indoor grow op:

  • Grow lights
  • Irrigation systems
  • Vertical racking
  • Ventilation
  • Humidity control
  • Trimming tables
  • Decarb oven tables
  • Drying equipment

Individually, these items don’t cost that much money. Together, though, they add up quickly.

You can often find LED grow lights that sell for about $1,000. An automated lighting system that covers a large space (approximately 30 x 100 feet), however, can cost as much as $15,000. Many companies start small and grow as they generate profits.

Your irrigation system will probably force you to spend the most money at once. Cannabis plants are very sensitive to moisture, light, and heat. You need to control those factors at all times. For a medium-sized irrigation system with a built-in carbon filter, you might pay as much as $100,000.

It often pays to shop around to find equipment and supplies at discounted prices. When growing companies want to get rid of their old grow lights and irrigation systems, you could get them at drastically lower prices. You might also find that you get cheaper prices when you buy from a company that’s going out of business. Unfortunately, not every cannabis cultivator succeeds in the competitive market.

You can search equipment listings on 420 Property to compare offers. Listings include:

When it comes to buying supplies for your grow op, try to purchase in bulk. You can often get discounted rates on fertilizers, soil substrates, and other essentials when you contact suppliers and request bulk pricing.


How much does it cost to start a grow op? Just wait until you see your monthly bills for utilities. When you grow crops indoors, you have to replace natural sunlight and rain. That usually means spending a lot of money on electricity, water, and sewage.

You can potentially lower your long-term costs by investing in a solar power system. Solar power is a big upfront cost, though. If possible, you might want to choose a solar company that will extend your payments over several years.

Try to reduce your energy and water use as much as possible. Do not, however, put your plants at risk. Saving 20% on your monthly bills will not make up for a 20% reduction in flowers. You grow high-quality crops that people are willing to spend a lot of money on. Don’t let short-term savings prevent you from making long-term profits.


You can’t run a successful grow op on your own. In fact, you probably need a team of at least five people to operate a small indoor grow operation. Luckily, only a couple of those employees command high salaries.

Your master grower can earn anywhere from $80,000 to $150,000. The salary depends on the master grower’s experience and how many plants are under their care. You might also want to include incentive bonuses when the grower exceeds expectations.

If you produce extracts at your grow op, you can expect to hire an engineer who will earn at least $100,000 per year. You don’t have to include this person on your team. Many grow ops sell their flowers and other plant materials to companies that specialize in chemical extraction. The industry, however, shows a remarkable trend toward extracts. Keeping extraction in-house could help you cut out the middleman and earn higher profits.

Your other employees will need to fulfill tasks like checking plants, trimming flowers, and packaging products. Depending on your location, you can expect to pay them about $15 per hour. You might find that you can save money by hiring part-time workers who don’t receive benefits like health insurance and retirement plans.


Every business needs insurance. As a cannabis cultivator, you will likely need general liability insurance that protects you from injury on the property. You will also need workers’ compensation insurance.

As an indoor grower, you can worry less about losing crops than farmers who grow their cannabis outdoors. Pests and diseases can get inside your warehouse, though. If you don’t address the problem before it harms your plants, you could lose everything. Crop protection insurance will ensure that you get paid a minimum amount of money. It’s probably not as much money as you would like, but it will cover your losses and give you another year to strive for success.

How Much Money Do You Need to Start a Grow Operation?

There isn’t a set rule for this, but many states want to make sure you have enough capital to start and run your grow operation. Depending on your location, you might not get a cultivation permit until you have enough capital on hand.

Generally, you can expect to need at least $250,000 in capital. The more money you have, though, the easier it is to get your license. You don’t necessarily have to spend all the money. The licensing agency simply wants to know that you have access to enough capital.

Make sure you include proof of capital when you submit your business plan to the licensing agency.

How Much Money Do Commercial Grow Ops Make?

Is all of this worth it? That depends on how well you manage your business and grow your crops. Most business owners expect to make $150 per square foot of growing space. That isn’t the revenue of a square foot. That’s the profit!

With a 1,000-square-foot grow operation, you’re looking at $150,000 in profit. No, that doesn’t make you an instant millionaire. It does give you more capital to invest in a larger facility and more efficient systems, though. If you grow your business a little each year, you could exceed $1 million per year within a decade.

This is not a guarantee. No one can guarantee how much money you make from your business. But it’s a good guess. It also explains why so many companies have gotten into the legal cannabis industry.

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July 19, 2021Comments Off
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