large scale indoor pot production

There are no accurate estimates of the number of marijuana growers operating in Humboldt County, much less the entire state of California. But we can be quite certain that the number is daunting, to say the least. There are about 78,000 people in Humboldt County between the ages of 18 and 65, and many locals would guess that, at minimum, 50% are involved in the marijuana production industry in some way.

We want to take a close look at marijuana growers in Humboldt -- the actual operators of indoor pot farms -- and examine how much money is involved in producing high grade marijuana here in California.

Like any business, there are many factors that go into running a production pot garden, so we'll end up with a range of income levels at the end of this article. Most importantly, not all growers use the same method, so timing and yields are kind of all over the place. Let's talk about timing first.

In our experience, more pot growers in Humboldt are concerned with quality and yield per plant rather than total yield per year, which immediately puts them at a disadvantage (from a business perspective). Growers are always bragging about how many pounds per light or ounces per plant they recently harvested, but generally ignore the amount of time it took their garden to produce those yields. There are also some very business-minded growers in these parts who measure their success and production in terms of pounds per year, and strive to produce the most product they possibly can each year so they can make as much money as possible. Either way, all indoor pot farmers must face the same expenses and similar market conditions, so we'll be looking at the cost of growing and the bulk price of high quality marijuana in the United States.


Let's look at two very different, but very common, garden scenarios. Garden A is a four-light operation in an average Arcata home. Garden B is a 15-light operation in an average Eureka home.

Garden A

Garden B

Rent: $1600
Lights: 4 x 1000 Watt
Energy Consumption (veg): 504 Kwh
Energy Consumption (flower): 2400 Kwh
Energy Consumption (other): 114 Kwh
Annual Rent: $19,200
Annual Electrical Cost: $7,300*
Annual Materials Costs: $4,000
Annual Other Costs: $2,000
Total Annual Overhead: $32,500
Rent: $1400
Lights: 15 x 1000 Watt
Energy Consumption (veg): 1890 Kwh
Energy Consumption (flower): 9000 Kwh
Energy Consumption (other): 171 Kwh
Annual Rent: $16,800
Annual Electrical Cost: $26,900*
Annual Materials Costs: $13,240
Annual Other Costs: $6,000
Total Annual Overhead: $62,940
* based on PG&E rates

The table above pretty much lays out the costs associated with operating each grow house. We used PG&E rate information for the top tier of energy usage, because the vast majority of an indoor grower's electrical usage falls into this category. Material costs (soil, planters, fertilizer, new bulbs every 6 months, etc) are estimated and probably higher than the average grower incurs. We also ignored startup costs, since we're here to discuss how much an indoor garden can make after it is up and running, but for your information it generally costs about $1000-2000 per light to build out a new garden (construction materials, equipment, wiring, labor, etc).


Garden A

Garden B

Avg Yield (57 day cycle): 3.5 lbs
Annual Yield: 22.4 lbs
Total Annual Revenue*: $71,680
Less Overhead: -$32,500
Net Profit: $40,180
Avg Yield (57 day cycle): 12.5 lbs
Annual Yield: 80 lbs
Total Annual Revenue*: $256,000
Less Overhead: -$62,940
Net Profit: $193,060
* at market price of $3,200/lb

Two things become abundantly clear based on the examples above: 1) Net profit margins are greater than 50% for marijuana growers, which is leaps and bounds beyond the net margins associated with the vast majority of legitimate businesses in the United States; 2) Growers with larger gardens are enjoying incredible profit margins, as high as 75% in this scenario.

Medical pot is sealed in Food Saver bags before sale to customers

Of course, the primary reasons that profits are so high in the marijuana business are that prices are inflated to account for the inherent risk of operating in an illegal market, and, most importantly, pot growers aren't usually claiming the income on their federal and state taxes, which allows them to keep an additional 15%-35% of their gross profit compared to what a legitimate business would pocket.

To be fair, there are many other factors that determine how much a professional indoor marijuana grower makes each year. Not all growers run a 57 day cycle. Many veg for 2 weeks or more, and flower for up to 60 days, which ultimately reduces their annual production to less profitable levels, and some skilled growers run a 50 day cycle, boosting their annual yields to even higher levels while cutting down on cost per cycle. And not everyone's weed sells for $3200 per pound. Some growers unload their product at lower prices, while others are able to charge as much as $4000 per pound to out-of-state buyers. And we must not ignore the occasional failed crop, due to disease, infestation, burglary, or other problems, which probably occurs at least once every dozen cycles (much more for less experienced gardeners).

Indoor Marijuana Farmer Annual Profit: $30,000 - $250,000

In any case, we hope this answers the question many Americans have been asking recently, with all the talk of marijuana in the news and on the streets: "How much money to marijuana growers actually make?" If you have relevant information on this topic, please leave a comment below.

<< Pot Growers Screwing the Rest of Us Pot Growers In Eureka Face Uncertain Future >>

By wish i was a grower, on Jan 5, 2011 - 17:53
damn! time to pack up and move to Humboldt??

Research Psychologist

By Arnold, on Jan 31, 2011 - 1:27
Have any of the Grower Associations supported research? I am trying to determine dosage and efficacy but need tested meds. Very few test mmj so their titration is unknown. If I am successful, a definitive dose and strain would be known. That would help all of us.


By been around, on Mar 1, 2011 - 4:47
what aload of shit these figures done by some moron tht never grown prfit is more than that n if u know what ur doin with u lights ur bills will look just like a family of 3 australia well ahead???????

By LuckyDo, on Mar 7, 2011 - 7:37
The wholesale price is around 2200 to 2800 for top shelf in Cali so this is a bit high on the profit side. Prices are going down and small timers who survive on this are getting squeezed out.


By Jim, on Apr 19, 2011 - 21:09
this is the coolest website ever!!!! :DD
i love it :DD

By Mongler, on Jun 30, 2011 - 7:05
@Been Around.

"prfit is more than that n if u know what ur doin with u lights ur bills will look just like a family of 3"

Hurr durr steal electricity!!

stealing electricity in Eureka is like setting up a heroin production facility within eyesight of the Tijuana border. It is a county FULL of marijuana growers, and you want to steal electricity in a city where this problem is well known and watched for? it is not illegal for PG&E to inspect your power pole for no reason whatsoever. oh what? you paid off the PG&E guys so they will not tell on you? PG&E will just bring in consultants or non-local employees to check the poles. and if you simply lie and claim low-income or preferential commercial usage rates, you are also inviting disaster and adding to the number of charges that will be weighed against you when you are inevitably caught (fraud).

With respect to the Author's tabulations...

you must remember the following:

1) the cost of maintaining a collection of mother plants from which the grower sources clones. This incurs an opportunity cost in terms of the loss of available growth space for budding plants, extra electricity costs (a 4kw room is going to require in the range of 20-40 clones per cycle depending on cultivation method, Sea of Green requires more, supercrop requires less).

20-40 clones is going to require at least 2 mother plants to ensure redundancy and ample supplies every 2 months. Realistically 3-4 mothers is a safer bet.

2) if the grower does not maintain his own mother plants, he must purchase clones himself. Even at a preferential rate, he will probably be paying on the order of $5 to $10 per clone, possibly less if he is growing a larger crop.

3) the cost of trimmers. Trimmers usually end up costing around $300 per dried pound. It can be more, but $300 is a pretty good estimate of the average cost.

it can be less if the cannabis is lower quality and does need as detailed a trim job (outdoor), but it can be even more if it DOES require a good trim job, as well as careful accounting of the trim itself (high grade indoor).

Trimmers are basically a necessity for anything beyond about 3 pounds (dry) per cycle. It would take around 60-70 hours for 1 person to trim the cannabis that will EVENTUALLY become 3 pounds.

4) the Author forgot to factor in the additional PROFIT associated with concentrates like hashish.


By yoyo, on Jul 16, 2011 - 21:30
my strains all take 9 weeks, i have a mother room that takes alot of time and money too....honestly if it wasnt for my dayjob my 4kw grow would not pay the bills...its just a little extra on the side and a bunch of good weeed to smoke. i dont grow for profit i grow because i like testing out all the new strains and doing research on methods, i like smoking my own organic pot that isnt sprayed up with who knows what by commercial growers like eagle20, etc.......but yeah growing is a pretty tough job commercially and prices are rock bottom my friend who runs a 40kw only gets 2400 per LB of some frosty 55 day purps...shit i could pick my buds at 55 days and sell it on market but i like taking them to 65-70..

By oghumman, on Sep 3, 2011 - 15:11
@mongler you're doing it wrong. Cut clones from your main garden prior to day3 of flower cycle. If you can't trim a lb in ~3 hours, you need to speed that shit up. and i'm not joking at all. it really does not take long to trim if your doing it right. get those blue wiss scissors and learn to use them! when your sitting there and its taking you forever, fucking MOVE FASTER. that's all there is to it. WORK FASTER and your trim job will be done quickly. seriously.

By Kerry Thomas, on Nov 10, 2011 - 4:13
How can I get a job there

be there soon

By bri buschman and rod, on Jan 20, 2012 - 5:34
we are on our way


By Mark, on Jan 31, 2012 - 9:33
i live in the northwest and have been trying to hit the grow scene. theres no way i could grow atm but i want to trim so f'ing bad haha if you guys have any suggestions to getting in contact with growers plz help me out


By lol, on Feb 21, 2012 - 2:49
We get 5600 a lb, with 4 lights I do 60k each cycle.. You guys are cheap.


By arron wilky, on Feb 29, 2012 - 22:18
listen i bought an x box and thats the hustlem


By old hippy, on Mar 8, 2012 - 15:16
Craigslist is the way to go, you'll definitely find a couch to crash on that way. Or you can be like most other young hippies and just show up here, meet some people on the plaza or at the bars or whatever and you'll find someone cool enough to let you crash for a few nights. especially if you offer up something in trade, like some sticky indo...


By Osavlado, on Apr 10, 2012 - 14:39
That's the best job I wish I koud do that

Local Gal

By Julie, on Apr 14, 2012 - 13:58
Growers have no future. get a life.

By Billy Bob, on Jul 2, 2012 - 15:09
Norcal born and bred, been around the grow scene many years. Indoor, outdoor, soil, hydro,etc...Have one thought and that is all you newbes and wannabes are too late. The game is over! You missed the boat! No matter what you try, your end product is only as good as clones or seeds you start. No one is giving away their award winning strains.And growing is an art, like wine. It is difficult at best! Leave it to the oldschoolers who do it traditionally as a way of life, and not to the new breed of exploiters and posers.

By deelan, on Aug 7, 2012 - 1:54
To Billy Bob,

The new breed will always overcome the old schoolers it's called evolution. And northern california will not always be the epicenter of the US weed universe, as new states convert their systems more and more people will buy in and try their hand. The game is not over, it's ever changing, and people that think that it's something static will get left in the dust for sure.

By You are an idiot, on Aug 21, 2012 - 17:04
I'm not a grower, but have heard the price for which many growers sell their reefer, and 22.4 lbs (The Arcata #s) shows that growers in Arcata MAKE SLIGHTLY MORE THAN MINIMUM WAGE, given your "cost analysis."

The problem with idiots like this writer, who obviously doesn't know the grass game, is he regurgitates the boisterous profit margins spoken by liars or morons. THE BEST OF THE BEST weed is pretty cheap unless the growers plan to traffic drugs across the US, which is the minority of growers.

By Taylor, on Aug 30, 2012 - 2:22
I'm not going to argue with anyone, I'll just give you my setup here in Canada. I have a small grow. 25 Plants, anywhere from 1oz min to 2oz per plant. On the low end I make a net profit of 4000 every two months. I just use a spare room in my house, three 1000 watt light, intake and out take equipment, hydroponic system, timers, nutrients, ph tester, grow medium, air pumps, etc cost me just over 3000 to start. My electric is up about 50 but I feed my out take into the vent system of the house to cut back on heat cost, filter takes care of smell. So at the low end I make 24000 a year tax free but that's more like 32000 tax free. And no that's not my only source of income. All together I live very good.. Also I sell each crop to one person, I have to sell a lot cheaper and don't make what one would selling oz per oz but it cuts your risk factor in more then half..

By jonny, on Sep 22, 2012 - 0:32
yeah keep doing what your doing

By HumBrain, on Nov 26, 2012 - 11:05
Okay really quick that "business model" doesn't include labor. Cost of building and maintaining the equipment, operating, manicuring, and cost of getting rid of the product. These are managerial numbers that aught to be considered. One major line item left off is "allowances." Obviously the biggest allowance is getting ripped off. The finished product also depreciates and is often not properly cured, damaged in transit, etc. Also, there is always a junked out or underweight crop unless you live in your garden in which case you basically make minimum wage x 24 x 7 x 365. It's no life.

Wtf are you doing wrong??!!

By LordOfTheNugZ, on Jan 13, 2013 - 6:59
I run 4kw on a flip flop and pull just over $35k every 4 1/2 months.

By Colorado smoker on the cheap, on Mar 7, 2013 - 3:41
My sis lives in HB county her friends grows and makes good coin. In Colorado there is so much supply I just picked up an oz of purple passion for $100 plus tax with MMJ card. I would like to grow but legalization and taxes cuts into $$$.

By nv bud, on Oct 20, 2013 - 19:53
How many actually support themselves - tired of freeloaders

Prospective grower

By John Doe, on Apr 28, 2014 - 4:58
The math in this article doesn't add up at all if you are even semi knowledgeable on going prices and equipment and running cost. A 4 x 1000 hps would cost me max $15,000 a year to operate. With each light growing only 9 plants (49 plants per harvest) and harvesting 6 times a year it would come out to 294 plants a year (this is conservative number of plants per light). If each plant were to only yield 6 ounces (also conservative for an experienced grower)the total yield in ounces would be 1,764 or 110.25 pounds. Where I live the average price of a pound of dank is around 4k ( that's a good deal). So 4,000 x 110 = $440,000 of total profit. Here is all my math: 4 (Lights) x 9 (plants per light) x 6 (harvests) x 6 (ounces per plant) = 1,296 Ounces of product = 110.25 pounds x 4,000 (price per pound) = roughly $440,000. I estimate with the large grow profits would be close to $1,500,000 a year.

By Skank, on Oct 28, 2015 - 11:52
Anyone claiming to be unloading lbs at 4K per, frankly are full of shit.

By just a person, on Mar 4, 2016 - 2:08
@JohnnyCage it looks like this article is pretty old, from 2011. Prices seem to have fallen in most of the US so the numbers aren't quite the same but i have heard grow lights are way more efficient now and costs are down so the lower price per pound is still profitable for producers who grow quality organic flowers. This article isn't really accurate anymore but it does give an interesting view into how rapidly the market has changed and how much money people were making just 5 years ago.

By realSohum, on Oct 1, 2016 - 0:10
This is unrealistic prices depend on the buyers.. this was probably written by somebody who's never grown anything in their whole life

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