Seedsman Blog

Do you grow cannabis? We need your help!

Last week, we wrote about an anonymous survey recently launched by The Global Cannabis Cultivation Research Consortium (GCCRC) to help learn more about cannabis growers.

The GCCRC uses this data to help push sensible cannabis reform across the world.

The response has been incredible, so much so, we’re linking the survey once again and telling you a bit more about why it’s important.

If you grow cannabis and want drug policies to follow evidence rather than political ideology, please help us by taking part in this survey.

Why we need you

The winds of cannabis policy change are blowing.

Over 40 countries, from Argentina to Zimbabwe, have legalised cannabis for medical use, and the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime has followed World Health Organisation advice to reschedule cannabis under international law in recognition of its therapeutic potential. An increasing number of countries have decriminalised recreational cannabis use as well, including allowing for some home-growing of the plant. A small handful of countries, and a growing number of US States, have gone further, legalising recreational cannabis through regulated markets. In Canada and California, this is proving to be big business, generating large amounts of tax income for the public purse.

In Uruguay, the industry remains under state control. But in all models, the legalisation of cannabis and the removal of the market from the hands of organised crime is reducing harm. Consumers can be more confident in the purity and potency of what they are buying.

Breaking the link with organised crime means reducing the overlap with serious offences like people trafficking, modern-day slavery, and murder. Pressures are taken off the criminal justice system and the threat of arrest is removed from the hundreds of thousands of people who use cannabis, but are otherwise law-abiding citizens. Tax revenues can contribute to health services and drug education campaigns, and supplement other areas of public spending.

The advantages of legalisation are many, yet the majority of countries maintain strict prohibitionist laws and potentially long prison sentences for growing cannabis. The winds of change have a lot more blowing to do yet.

We’ve done this before

The GCCRC launched the first wave of this survey back in 2012 as we felt the general public – and policymakers – typically had a very unrealistic view of people who grow cannabis. Thanks to the contribution of over 6500 growers worldwide, our researchers were able to publish more than 20 scientific papers, which have helped challenge stereotypes of cannabis growers. Some of our key findings include:

  • Although most young (the median age of our respondents was 27) men (92%), cannabis growers are found across all social and demographic groups. There is no such thing as a ‘stereotypical grower’.
  • Most cannabis growers are hard-working taxpayers; only 7% are unemployed. Moreover, only 4% have committed crimes other than their cannabis-related activities. Thus, any suggestions that cannabis growers are from the margins of society, are cheating the system, or are habitual criminals, are wrong.
  • Cannabis growers would prefer to grow outdoors but often grow indoors to minimise the risk of getting caught. This varies across countries: 76% of UK and 80% of US, but only 33% of Dutch and 17% of Australian, respondents grew indoors. Indoor growers can use a lot of high-power lighting and other specialist equipment and can carry a large carbon footprint. But indoor growing is often a response to prohibition. Legalisation would allow more people to choose to grow outdoors, in natural conditions.
  • Most growers stay small, averaging 5 plants each (peaking at 9 plants per grower in Austria and Switzerland, and only 3 in Belgium). Growers do not seek to produce large amounts – they prioritise quality over quantity!
  • As shown in the table below, the vast majority of growers are motivated to grow cannabis to reduce their spending and avoid contact with the illegal market and ‘real’ criminals, to control the quality and potency of the cannabis they consume, or for aesthetic, ideological or altruistic reasons. Only a small minority of growers sell cannabis for profit; people tend to get involved in cannabis growing to avoid illegal markets rather than to become drug dealers.
  • In some countries, chemical fertilizers, supplements and insecticides were widespread (e.g., 35% of Danish, 45% of Australian, and 61% of UK growers). Unfortunately, many of these products are poorly labelled and contain harmful ingredients. Worryingly, many growers (26% of Danes, 41% of Australians, and 61% of Brits) believe that ‘flushing’ is an effective way of removing chemical residues. It isn’t! Cannabis growers can be inadvertently involved in harmful growing practices due to misinformation.
16 reasons for growing cannabis:AustraliaAustriaBelgiumCanadaDenmarkFinlandGermanyNetherlandsSwitzerlandUKUSTotal
It provides me with cannabis for personal use899079768690847687937684
I get pleasure from growing cannabis788784788084868594827683
Cheaper than buying cannabis728079926073746471849075
To avoid contact with criminals668566548081773663835772
The cannabis I grow is healthier than the cannabis I buy677667566862826377756068
Because the plant is beautiful56686858496470657048
To provide myself with cannabis for medical reasons544119564353354226538144
The cannabis I grow is a more consistent product than the cannabis I can buy454115562949452442666041
So I can share it/give it to my friends and acquaintances373541704441304437265940
For activist reasons (e.g. ecological ideology, fair trade)284140293444433241313538
I can flush the cannabis I grow to remove chemical residue4156216426502549615733
Growing your own cannabis is not as risky as buying it35283644302326822404130
The cannabis I grow is stronger than the cannabis I can buy201510492617211218285523
To provide others with cannabis for medical reasons20148381817131516184918
The cannabis I grow is milder than the cannabis I can buy128241011510161612912
So I can sell it97833514714892811

Adapted from Potter et al., (2015). Note: values cited are % of respondents choosing each reason. The question asked respondents to tick all options that apply. A ‘-‘ indicates that option choice was unavailable in that country.

The 2021 survey

We’re back in 2021 with an even better survey, available in more countries and languages, and better tailored to what’s happening around the world now. Please help us continue to set the record straight by taking part.

To find out more – and to participate in our research click here

All survey responses are strictly anonymous, we do not ask for any personal data or contact details, and we do NOT record your IP address.

If you have any questions or want to know more about the research we have published so far, please email Dr Gary Potter, University of Lancaster, at g.potter2@lancaster.ac.uk or visit our website.

Cultivation information, and media is given for those of our clients who live in countries where cannabis cultivation is decriminalised or legal, or to those that operate within a licensed model. We encourage all readers to be aware of their local laws and to ensure they do not break them.

This post is also available in: French

Dr Gary Potter