With Marijuana Legal In Mass., Hydroponic Equipment Stores Are Expecting A Boom

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With marijuana now legal in Massachusetts, stores like High Tech Garden Supply in Shrewsbury are expecting a boom in sales for hydroponic growing equipment. (Lynn Jolicoeur/WBUR)
With marijuana now legal in Massachusetts, stores like High Tech Garden Supply in Shrewsbury are expecting a boom in sales for hydroponic growing equipment. (Lynn Jolicoeur/WBUR)

Thursday is a historic day in Massachusetts. For the first time, people can grow their own marijuana, roll a joint, and smoke it legally. There are restrictions, though: You can't do it in public, you can't be under 21 — and you can't buy it in a store. That day won't come for another year, at least.

But the fact that you can grow a limited number of marijuana plants in your home means that the stores that specialize in hydroponics — the equipment you need if you're serious about growing pot — are riding high.

A couple of days ago, we went to a hydroponics store on Route 9 in Shrewsbury called HTG Supply. Pink Floyd was playing on the store's speaker system.

High Tech Garden Supply is a 5,000-square-foot warehouse-style shop stacked high with potting soil, fertilizer and fancy grow lights. Tents the size of closets, too, with reflective lining and just the right kind of light — perfect for growing orchids, tomatoes and, now legally, marijuana.

There's a shelf of fertilizers clearly designed for the pot grower in mind — someone like Michael Philipone of Rutland. Philipone was at HTG Supply earlier this week and you could say he was eager for the moment recreational pot would become legal.

"Thirty-six hours, not that I'm counting," Philipone said, "and I just left my doctor's office and told her the same thing."

Philipone uses marijuana for medical reasons. He's got chronic pain from manual labor and spinal fusion surgery. He was checking out a bottle of fertilizer called "Big Bud" — the label has a cartoon of a smiling marijuana bud.

Philipone was smiling about the legalization of recreational pot Thursday. But there are plenty of people who worry about misuse. Say, if someone gets high and then gets behind the wheel of a car.

Philipone says the rules are clear about that.

"You can't get behind the wheel on opiates. That's illegal; it's on your bottle. And you shouldn't get behind the wheel if you're under the influence of anything. It doesn't matter what the substance is -- could be Mr. Clean," Philipone said. "Everything should be followed correctly like alcohol. And I've always believed, since I was 15 years old and smoked my first joint on the beach in Wildwood, New Jersey, that it should be regulated like alcohol. Folks who are against it, just, maybe be a little open minded and give it a chance."

The manager of HTG Supply in Shrewsbury is Jason Williams. Williams has worked at the store for seven years. And thanks to Massachusetts legalizing marijuana, he's about to see a big jump in business.

"We are projecting upwards of maybe 25 to 30 percent," Williams said.

He says the store can't sell seeds. What, then, can it sell?

"Everything that you need except for the plants," Williams said. "The lighting, the tents, the fertilizers, the soils, the hydroponic equipment."

So this is not too much different from what you would tell us to do if we were growing an aloe plant?

"Exactly," he responded. "Or like a tomato where the tomato grows outside and then towards late summer it starts producing flowers and then starts producing tomatoes. Same with the cannabis plant."

Williams says he doesn't have any experience in this area, so he traveled around to find out more.

"I've been across the country," he said. "I've also been overseas to Canada, the Netherlands in past years."

I (Lisa) ask: "What kind of a position does it put you in if you have somebody who's 16 years old — not old enough for the law to apply to them -- that they can grow their own marijuana at home. Can you say, 'Look, is this for your rosemary plant or is this for pot?' "

"I've always told my staff that if they're not comfortable in any conversation that they cannot have to answer any questions they're not comfortable with," he responded.

Williams says it's not all that easy to grow a healthy cannabis plant. He says the small but serious grower can get the basic tent set up for anywhere from $200 to $500.

And, if you need it, he's also got a copy of "The Cannabis Breeder's Bible" for $21.95.

This article was originally published on December 15, 2016.

This segment aired on December 15, 2016.


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Lisa Mullins Host, All Things Considered
Lisa Mullins is the voice of WBUR’s All Things Considered. She anchors the program, conducts interviews and reports from the field.


Headshot of Lynn Jolicoeur

Lynn Jolicoeur Producer/Reporter
Lynn Jolicoeur is the field producer for WBUR's All Things Considered. She also reports for the station's various local news broadcasts.



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