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+1(415) 970-WEED(9333) MON-SUN : 09:00AM - 10:00PM | LOUNGE HOURS 9:30AM - 9:30PM | ALL PRICES INCLUDE TAX

Indoor vs Outdoor Cannabis

Cannabis comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors, and more recently, products that we couldn’t even dream of! But a fundamental question remains for cannabis consumers: what’s the difference between cannabis grown indoors and cannabis grown outside?

Zookies by Ember Valley (Indoor)
Outdoor flower by Cypress Cannabis

Look and Feel

There are a few noticeable differences between cannabis grown indoors and cannabis grow outside. Cannabis grown outdoors is typically darker, and has a more weathered look. That’s because outdoor grows have to weather a number of elements like rain, pests, sunlight, wind, moonlight, and temperature swings, compared to cannabis grown indoors. Usually, outdoor grown plants will look darker, feel lighter and the buds will be more loosely packed. Outdoor grows often lack a real pungent smell, and their scent typically reflects the setting in which they were grown, often smelling like the woods, grass, pepper and pine.  

In contrast, cannabis grown indoors appears lighter in color, and is typically a more bright green that can feature a number of brighter colors like orange, purple and red. The flowers of indoor grows are often more tightly packed, and they usually feature more trichromes than their outdoor counterparts. Indoor grows often have a rich scent palate that can smell like lavender, citrus, vanilla and even coffee.

Zookies by Ember Valley (Indoor)
Zookies by Ember Valley (Indoor)


Believe it or not, cannabis grown outdoors is considered to have a richer flavor profile, full of subtleties and intricate flavors. That’s because the environment in which it was grown imparts some of its natural flavor onto the plant. This phenomenon is called “terroir,” and it applies to any fruits or vegetables grown outside. In fact, terroir plays a central role in how the flavor of wine is developed.  

Is Indoor Cannabis Stronger than Outdoor?

Not necessarily. Cannabis potency is determined by the concentration of THC in the plant and that is a product of multiple factors. However, growing cannabis indoors does give the grower more control to introduce things that increase the concentration of THC. Indoor grows don’t have to fight the elements like outdoor plants do, so the flowers are often in pristine condition. A controlled environment also gives the grower a chance to introduce more C02 into the soil, which does increase the THC concentration. So, while one isn’t stronger than the other, indoor grows are grown in ideal conditions which give them a better chance to produce a stronger crop. 

Ember Valley Grow Facility
Ember Valley Grow Facility

Shelf Appeal

After comparing flowers in a dispensary, a lot of cannasseurs inadvertently choose indoor grows, even though they are typically more expensive. That’s because they tend to be more aesthetically pleasing, and can have an appealing scent profile. But, that doesn’t mean that indoor grows are better, or stronger than outdoor grows. As consumers, we’re drawn to products that thoroughly engage our senses, and cannabis grown indoors typically engages us more deeply than cannabis grown outside. 

Energy Consumption

Did you know that around 8% of California’s household energy usage comes from cultivating cannabis? To put that into perspective, that’s about 200 pounds of coal to grow one pound of cannabis. Unfortunately, cannabis grown indoors requires a lot of energy, and leads to some really high electricity costs. However, cannabis grown outdoors – particularly in outdoor greenhouses – is far more energy efficient because these grows harness the sun’s energy and don’t rely so heavily on electricity. 

Environmental Impact 

The act of growing cannabis indoors requires far more energy, soil, and water to yield a crop than does sun-grown cannabis. For instance, many indoor growers have to discard their soil after a crop yields product and buy new soil to begin a new crop, whereas sun-grown cannabis utilizes the soil that naturally occurs in the field in which it is grown. Cannabis grown inside also produces far more wastewater than cannabis grown outdoors. That wastewater requires more electricity for filtration before it can be reintroduced into the local sewer systems.

In contrast, outdoor cannabis grow ops are closely regulated by the State Water Resource Control Board and by the Department of Fish and Wildlife to minimize their carbon footprint by allotting a specific amount of water for cannabis cultivation. More than that, most water runoff from outdoor grows is filtered through the soil and does not drain into the watershed, so the environmental impact is minimal. 

However, all grow operations are not created equal. There are some growers now using solar energy to power indoor grow facilities, which is a step in the right direction. Our biggest suggestion is to do research and learn more about where your plant is coming from.

Raw Garden Grow Facility
Raw Garden Grow Facility

Which is Right for Me?

A great thing about cannabis is that there are countless strains of both indoor and outdoor grows available, and each strain offers consumers a unique experience. And remember, even concentrates and edibles contain flower, so be sure to educate yourselves on various brand’s business practices! The best way to find out what works for you is by sampling cannabis strains and products that are grown inside and outside and by researching your product and farmers.

Is It Legal to Grow Cannabis in California?

Yes! It is legal to grow recreational or medicinal for personal use, but there are restrictions. You can’t grow your own cannabis and begin selling it to family or friends – that’s a big no-no. You can cultivate up to 28.5 grams of cannabis for personal use, but you can’t carry that amount around with you outside of your home. You can grow up to six plants on your property as well, but it’s illegal to grow cannabis in an area that is viewable by the public. Checkout this link to learn more detailed information about California’s cannabis cultivation laws.

Visit Mission Cannabis to Learn More about Cannabis

If you have any question about cannabis, CBD products, or marijuana in general, then visit our dispensary. Our team of budtenders are happy to answer any questions about marijuana that you may have. Together, we can help find the right products for you so that you can enjoy cannabis more thoroughly, and safely. 

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