Growing Marijuana Safely:
Anyone planning to grow marijuana should make safety their top priority. Ensuring that your plants are safe means keeping them protected from any source of danger. However, in many places, growing marijuana is still illegal, so safety also includes preventing theft, nosy neighbors who squeal, wanderers, nature lovers, and the police. Safety can also refer to your liberty or physical safety while indoor growing as well as your health while participating in horticultural activities. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to lower all of the risks associated with growing marijuana.
Watch out for these people
The biggest problem with growing marijuana is the likelihood of getting caught. In fact, there are many cases where growers have been busted by nosy neighbors or passersby. Even bad weather can expose a grow when floods wash up evidence of a hidden outdoor garden. You can’t prevent everything, but you should be mindful of these risks:
Nosy neighbors have the highest chance of discovering your plants. Even if it is legal, they might still associate it with crime and alert the authorities. So, be cautious when choosing your garden’s location.
Some growers are lucky to live in a place where marijuana is legal, so they don’t need to worry about the police. But for most of us, a crucial part of growing is ensuring that cops don’t notice. Luckily, most police officers are after big-time growers. So, if you stick to growing only a couple of plants, you can lower your chances of getting caught.
These people are likely your worse human threat. Thieves like to reap all the benefits of months of hard work. What’s worse, they tend to harvest buds way too early, leaving nothing for the grower. Most of the time, these people purposely go into the woods to look for hidden marijuana crops.
Wanderers and Nature Lovers
Most people who like to wander or explore the woods are nature lovers such as hikers, cyclists, hunters, and campers. Often, they like to linger in a favorite spot and keep it clean. Unfortunately, most of them see marijuana as a threat and tend to remove the plants. To avoid these nature fanatics, pick a location that is hard to reach and surrounded by bushes.
Maintain a low profile
One of the best ways to keep your marijuana safe from theft and the authorities is to focus on ensuring no one knows it is there. Try your best to keep prying eyes away from your plants and what you are doing. When growing in your home, try to blend in. Use a neighborhood app like NextDoor to see what your neighbors are gossiping about. Follow the rules of no smell, no tell and no sell. If you do these things, you are way less likely to have your grow discovered.
Control the Smell
For many growers, the smell is the number one security concern. The odor of marijuana is particular, and nearly every strain is pungent. While many people are “outed” because of the smell, it doesn’t have to be a problem. Some people can easily detect the aroma, but there are some who cannot. Plus, when you mask it with other powerful-smelling herbs such as basil, cilantro or mint, they are even less likely to notice it. The extra plants also help a marijuana garden look less like an area full of weed and more like an ordinary garden. You can also grow your plants in a greenhouse or shed to keep control of the smell.
If you are growing indoors, you can control the smell by keeping your grow area well-contained. Don’t let the breeze carry the marijuana odor throughout your entire apartment block. If you’re growing a lot of plants using HPS bulbs, use an exhaust fan that has a carbon filter. The fan will essentially filter out all the weed scents and only allow clean, filtered air to get outside the room. The exhaust fan is also perfect for removing hot air in a grow room so that the temperatures won’t get out of hand.
For guerilla or wilderness growing (as well as backyard grows), consider the direction of the wind. In most places there are prevailing winds that blow from a predictable direction most of the time—in North America, winds are generally from the southeast in summer. Take these winds, which change direction with the seasons, into consideration.
Don’t plant where the wind will send the smell directly into populated areas. Remember to keep your plants away from hiking trails, recreation areas, or places that are frequented by humans because as soon as the flowering begins, the plants will start to smell. You have a couple of months before the smell will become a problem, but beginning in early spring, try to be sure the winds will be in your favor even in late autumn when prevailing winds usually start reversing direction to blow from the northwest.
Not telling anyone seems like a simple task, but it is a sad fact that many people get caught simply because they like to talk about growing marijuana. (Tip: If you must talk about it, join an online forum and share anonymously.) Keeping your mouth shut isn’t easy, especially when you’re enthusiastic and proud of your progress.
If you tell one person, then you’ve practically told all their friends, too. Before too long, everyone knows you’re growing weed. Then, all it takes is for someone who doesn’t like you to call the police and snitch on you. Even your good friends can become your enemies. It’s better to keep your weed growing hobby to yourself. Save your pride for after the harvest.
Keeping quiet also means literally keeping quiet when you’re growing indoors. The sounds of a grow room building project can bring nosy neighbors to your door. Fans are typically a major culprit, so try and soundproof your grow room or use quiet fans if possible. Avoid putting the fans on the floor since it will create some vibrations and noise. It’s better to hang them using rubber rings.
Since blowing the warm air out of the room also makes some noise, minimize it by using an insulated hose.
Even your power usage can indicate potentially questionable behavior. Use low-energy lights to keep your power company from getting concerned or construct a soundproof gas generator using a ventilated dog house, spray foam insulation and an ultra-quiet 3500-watt generator in your garage. It’s definitely a project, but if you are successful, your indoor grow is way less likely to be discovered by the authorities or your neighbors.
It’s hard to be discrete when you sell marijuana, and that’s one big reason why selling is a bad idea. However, being discrete also means being conscious of your surroundings and how much of a disruption you are making. If you’re growing inside your home, then you’ll need to carry in pots, soil bags, light bulbs, and other material to construct your grow room. When you do that, don’t look suspicious; carry the soil bags in cardboard boxes if possible.
You’ll also want to take some preventative measure while growing to ensure your house doesn’t look suspicious – especially when growing during the winter. A warm grow room in a cold environment can cause foggy windows due to condensation. You can prevent this by using opaque film. When used correctly the fog will stick to the film and not the windows.
Attic grow rooms can also cause a problem since the heat in the grow room tends to cause any snow on the roof to melt way quicker than anyone else’s. If not careful, your house may be the only house on the street without snow on its roof. To prevent this, insulate the roof well and turn off the lights to help control the heat. Also monitor your roof, comparing it to your neighbors ever so often.
If you’re growing outside on land other than your own, try not to get into a routine. Don’t go to your garden at the same time every single day. If you are growing in the wilderness, try not to leave a trail. This will likely be difficult because, in a natural environment, any place that is visited regularly is going to be marked with visible trails. However, the easiest way to prevent detection is to establish several—more than three—routes between a well-traveled trail or road and your growing location. Use existing game trails whenever possible to avoid creating new paths that could be noticed by someone who knows the area intimately. A multitude of trails makes any one of them harder to detect.
When planning your growing location, scout out a location before growing, so you know how busy it is at different times of the day. Use a backpack or other non-suspicious bag to carry your supplies (don’t use a black sports bag that resembles a body bag). You should also blend in, especially if you’re visiting your plants at night. For instance, I like to walk my dog every night, and people likely think I’m just out walking my dogs. Your reason for being outside could be for running, mountain biking, or hiking. Dress the part.
Secure your Location
When growing outdoors, where you grow can make a big difference in the overall security of your site. Even if growing marijuana is legal where you live, marijuana remains a highly steal-able commodity. Your backyard isn’t even safe since there will always be “reapers” who are willing to reap what you and your hard work have sown.
Here are some ways to minimize your risk of detection and potential theft.
Sometimes a simple fence can keep people from prying in your backyard, but it can also make people more suspicious, depending on the neighborhood. When using fencing, it is important to blend in. Use friendly, common fencing so that your house doesn’t look like a fortress. You can also have double fencing, but again, make it look natural. A mean-looking dog that barks loudly at visitors works as well.
Like fences, security cameras can be useful, but they can also raise suspicion, so be mindful of your neighborhood. If you are the only house on your street with obvious security cameras, it is bound to cause suspicion.
However, we live in a fairly technologically advanced society. This means if you want security cameras, you have options besides the big, bulky, boxy things that are obviously cameras. You can get cameras that are smaller than the size of your finger and plant those around your place. Make sure you hide them well. Security cameras don’t work that well when people know that they’re there, Heisenberg uncertainty principle and all that.
While this is an idea, it is not actually a good idea. Some for-profit growers use hooks, “punji boards” made from nail-filled planks, and other painful booby traps to discourage thieves, but honestly, no amount of marijuana is worth harming someone, no matter how questionable that person’s genetics or upbringing may be. Besides, trying to protect your plants using violent, hurtful methods that are guaranteed to bring police officers to the site is a poor strategy to start with. Even worse if your victim happens to be a cop, because then you will be actively hunted by vengeful police officers who stick together better than Crips or Bloods, and you’ll remain prosecutable for it until the end of your life.
Select a Good Location
If you start off with a secure grow site where people are less likely to wander, you will have less work to keep thieves out. Rangers at Yellowstone and other parks generally concur that backpackers and hikers rarely venture more than 200 yards off the trail and being just 300 yards from a trail is almost a guarantee that you won’t see another person.
Sometimes you can even plant right next to a highway in a forest, and none of the drivers will notice because they are so busy driving, and the ones that do are not going to stop to go look. As long as you can get water to your crops and it is secure, it is a potential location.
Many seasoned pot growers will tell you, “some people can’t see the forest for the trees,” meaning, when someone finds themselves in an unfamiliar environment, they will often undergo a kind of sensory overload, unable to consciously register all that is present or happening around them. The “busier” or more complex an environment, the less any person’s brain is able to take in, and the effect of overstimulation of the visual cortex is amplified when an observer is in unfamiliar surroundings. You can use this to your advantage by planting or transplanting in places where other vegetation helps to clutter the visual landscape and make it difficult for the eye to discern specific shapes.
Consider your Safety
No matter how much you love your plants, your ultimate safety is what is most important – and in some cases, this means not going to jail. Sometimes it is best not to grow near where you live. That way, if the plants are discovered, you can always say “it wasn’t me.” If that excuse doesn’t seem plausible enough, come up with one that does. You’ll need to have a reason to explain why you are standing next to a bunch of marijuana plants if caught. Being able to say, I just stumbled on it, is better than nothing.
Reduce your risk of harm
Sometimes the dangers involved with growing marijuana are related to you rather than your plants. If not careful, growers could be arrested or even die. Here are some ways to grow less risky.
Know the Law
You should have a good idea of the federal and local laws before you grow. Many people know that growing marijuana is illegal in most countries, but there are some US states (as well as Canada) that allow legal growing.
You should know if you reside in an area that will cause you to lose your job, home, or be arrested for many years for merely growing cannabis. Sometimes there are simple things you can do (such as grow somewhere else) to minimize your risks. Other times, the number of plants could make a difference between a warning and many years in jail.
Reduce Indoor Hazards
While indoor growing provides more protection when it comes to security, it also has more risks when it comes to safety. Fires are a significant concern since improper wiring of the lights and fans can lead to a short circuit. This is especially likely when the electricity is set up by amateurs who mess with the cupboard circuit.
Although you likely won’t hire an electrician, (remember, tell no one), if you can do so discretely, it may be in your best interest. Otherwise, avoid messing with the circuit board or using terminal blocks and make sure to cut all cables to the correct size. Buy only reputable brands and always place equipment away from a water tap or tank to avoid accidents. Keep in mind, fires caused by an indoor marijuana garden aren’t going to be paid for by insurance.
Your gardening products can also cause a health risk if you are not careful. Some of them contain chemicals that can damage both you and your plants. For example, pH Down has nitric or phosphoric acid, which lowers the pH of water, but it can also cause serious eye damage.
Also, most fertilizers can be extremely irritating to the eyes, mouth, or open sores. To prevent harm, always read the instructions and learn what to do in case of accidents. For the most part, it’s just a matter of common sense. For example, using protective gear like gloves or goggles minimizes the chances of injury.
Water damage is another potential concern since a water tank could overflow – especially when you grow hydroponically. In addition, a constantly damp room can cause the floor to rot and the cement to get porous. In a worst-case scenario, molds may grow and wreak havoc to the crop or to the grower’s health.
The best way to reduce the risk of water-related problems is to waterproof the grow room’s floor and walls. This creates a moisture-free room that makes tending to the plants a lot easier. Also, don’t forget to turn off the tap to avoid any flooding. Better yet, place the water tank in the shower to lower the risk.
Remember to look up
If you are growing outdoors, it is important to consider possible detection from above. America’s DEA uses Huey and Black Hawk helicopters outfitted with infrared and ultraviolet spectrographic cameras to measure light wavelengths unique to cannabis plants. Using this technology, they can spot clumps of cannabis plants miles away. For large cannabis grow sites it is almost impossible to avoid being detected if one of these flies over your site.
Thankfully those growing small amounts should have less to fear. The key to avoiding detection from the air is keeping the size of what must be exposed to a minimum. More plainly, never grow more than three plants in a single location, and keep plots well separated, with about 50 yards between them in most terrain.
In general, the best advice is not to get greedy – many people do – it simply is not necessary. Calculate how much bud you’ll need for a twelve-month period and grow that amount. Even if it is 12 ounces, you can do that with 8 female plants easily. If you aren’t using feminized seeds you could plant 16 plants – just to be safe – but spread them out to avoid detection.
Marijuana plants get seized and stolen every day. Even the best people can’t resist a chance to score some free weed.
For example; while driving down a rural highway one warm summer evening, the unmistakable spoor of marijuana blew through my open window. It is against my principles to steal another grower’s plants, but while passing a joint I mentioned the incident to a friend who found five 4-foot plants growing on the far side of a marshy ditch, hidden by willow and dogwood shrubs.
The next evening this same unscrupulous person brought the uprooted plants, which had not yet begun to show their gender, to me because he didn’t know how to process green weed. I dried and cured it for him, and even smoked some of it—the plants had never been pruned, and their leaves apparently had only small amounts of the insect repellant THC.
I wasn’t happy about the lack of moral character my smoking buddy had displayed by stealing those fine young plants, and my regret was made more poignant by imagining what they might have become in autumn. The point is, you have to be prepared – don’t let thieves, cops and wanderers ruin your harvest.
The founder of I Love Growing Marijuana, Robert Bergman, is a marijuana growing expert that enjoys sharing his knowledge with the world. He combines years of experience, ranging from small-scale grows to massive operations, with a passion for growing. His articles include tutorials on growing... [read more]