Measure Your Green Thumb in This Home-Growing Competition

Home-growers have their own way of doing things.
Home-growers have their own way of doing things. Danielle Lirette
Are you one of those people who's too good for everyone else's weed? Do you think dispensary buds taste like booty? Maybe it's time to grow off or shut up.

Previously reserved for licensed contestants in the commercial cannabis world, the Grow-Off has recently branched out to include Colorado home-growers, to determine just how good Gary's basement buds really are. As with the commercial competition, participating home-growers receive clones bearing the same mystery genetics, and have several months to cultivate the strain in hopes of attaining the best potency and terpenes (compounds in plants responsible for smell and flavor). Yield will be recorded but not counted in the competition.

Grow-Off founders Jake Browne and Samantha Taylor say they'd wanted to include home-growers in the competition from the start, but couldn't find a cannabis testing lab to analyze terpenes from unlicensed cultivations. Once The Good Lab began testing terpenes from home-grows, though, the now-engaged duo began setting up the expanded contest.

"Terps were just the key, because almost no private labs have the capability. For us, that's the DNA on the strain to make sure that no one pulls a switcheroo," Browne explains. "I think people assume that since the strain is identical, they'll come out like twins. And they do, but more like fraternal twins, so that terpene test is like DNA — unique to each strain."

The future of the first home-grow competition was nearly put on hold last week, when March 13's storm knocked out power across parts of Denver — including the building housing the clones that Browne and Taylor had reserved for the contest. Fortunately, propane heaters held down the fort until power was restored over 24 hours later.

Now that everything is back on track, they're excited to meet successful and experienced cultivators who might not have the recognition or resources they deserve. Browne and Taylor plan on hosting meet-and-greets for new Grow-Off contestants and past participants from commercial competitions in the hopes of building bridges and possibly creating jobs.

"We want to see the home-growing community thrive, and not just become something full of hobbyists," Browne says. "A lot of home-growers are isolated, so I'm excited to see them interact with commercial growers. When you can share those [success stories] with people who are on the fence, maybe there's an opportunity."

There are still a couple of days left to sign up for the home-growing contest; go to the Grow-Off website to register
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for
Contact: Thomas Mitchell