Story by Steven Hager

Cannabis has one of the strongest life-forces on the planet and it will outgrow almost anything, provided it has the basic elements of light, nutrition and air circulation.
The benefits of home cultivation include saving money, providing a safe product, and keeping you and your money free of contact with criminal organizations.

Launching a grow operation is a very serious undertaking. The stakes are very high should you get caught. Cultivation is less dangerous if you are a single person who lives alone--and if you grow a very small crop and tell no one about it.

Never have more than 100 plants, clones or seeds in your possession at any one time. This forces your case into Federal court, where penalties can be severe. Never keep weapons, scales, baggies or evidence of packaging and/or sale. Have a medical defense in place should you get caught. If you can't document a legitimate medical need, consider donating half your crop to a person with cancer or AIDS who can testify in your defense at a trial.

Since smaller is better, start with only one to three plants. If you have a secure back yard not visible to any neighbors, consider planting a vegetable/flower garden and using it as a cover. Staked cannabis trained to grow like a like a vine on the ground is extremely difficult to detect from the air, especially if it is located inside a legal garden. (Don't consider this option unless your back yard is completely fenced and secure.) If you live near a large park or wildlands, scout the remote areas to see if there are any south-facing slopes on streams or rivers.

A safer, but more expensive alternative, is a closet or grow box located somewhere in your home. Ideally, this would be disguised or located behind a secret door. If not, the door or opening should be padlocked at all times.

The most important element is seed stock. Get seeds from the best quality marijuana possible. Sometimes you can get lucky and get seeds from a great bag of weed. Or you can try to get seeds from an established seed company. Never ship seeds or any grow product to your actual address where the garden will be located. Visit large garden centers and always pay in cash.

Loose lips are the most frequent source of problems for cultivators. Some growers are ratted out by ex-lovers or ex-spouses. Others are ripped off because they told the wrong person about the garden. The best advice is to tell no one.

If you're cultivating for the first time, pick up a copy of Ready, Set, Grow (VHS, DVD) or Ready, Set, Grow 2 (VHS, DVD) the best introduction to cannabis cultivation on the market. This video will tell you everything you need to get started. If you want to study more advanced techniques, I recommend the book Indoor Marijuana Horticulture by Jorge Cervantes.