While the arrival of 2019 could mean an influx of micro-entrepreneurs looking to start cottage food businesses with the passage of California’s AB 626 last year, there’s another potential side-hustle awaiting industrious types with room to spare: at-home cannabis farming.
That’s at least if a new startup called CitizenGrown gets its way. The San Francisco-based company plans to create a network of residential cannabis farmers by providing them with grow systems and handling the sale of the flower.
CitizenGrown would supply each home with a 5×5 hydroponic automated grow system at no cost to the home owner. The company would then manage and monitor the tech-enabled grow systems. Once weed is ready for harvest, CitizenGrown will sell it to local dispensaries and split the revenue with the home grower (to the tune of $1,000 to $3,000 per month).
Company CEO Redg Snodgrass told me that CitizenGrown will assist the home grower in obtaining a grow license from their local government. The first units are already operational in Oregon, and the company expects the first home systems in California to be up and running early next month.
According to Snodgrass, the former CEO of Readwrite and Wearable World, the company initially raised a “friends and family round” and just closed a seed round at the end of 2018. The formal launch of CitizenGrown is planned for April.
I’m intrigued by the idea of distributed farming networks as an option in the sharing economy; cannabis could be the one crop that could make the concept work. While small plots likely aren’t big enough to generate enough yield for lower value crops like vegetables, the high value per plant of cannabis could make smaller distributed growing systems economically viable.
That said, it remains to be seen if cannabis farming will join the ranks of the rideshare driver, Airbnb host or cottage food cook as the next big sharing economy gig. Not only do legal hurdles potentially remain to creating huge networks of home weed farmers, but the growing industrialization of cannabis farming will likely continue to drive pricing down over time.
Ultimately, only time will tell if this idea will work. But who knows? If CitizenGrown does succeed, maybe your neighbor who rents that spare room out on Airbnb will pull it off the home-share marketplace and become the friendly neighborhood cannabis farmer.