Medical Pot Movement Something to Build on, Contractors Say

Feburary 7, 2010 – Medical marijuana superstore? Check. Pot legalization ballot? Check. Custom-made grow room? Check.

At least since January. That is when the owners of Good Green Builders became what may be the first construction company in California, and the nation, aimed at the medical cannabis industry.

Good Green Builders will make hydroponic grow rooms for the cultivation of nonsmokeable crops, from orchids to tomatoes. But William McKenzie, Brian Mitchell and Brett McCormick decided the time was right to piggyback on the profit potential of medical marijuana.

The potential is great, McKenzie said.

“It’s very substantial,” he said, adding that California would stand to benefit from an additional $1.5 billion in tax revenue if pot were legalized.

Those figures hinge on one thing: Pot, which someone has to grow. Built-to-code grow rooms just make the endeavor safer and more legitimate.

“This has been underground for so long,” McKenzie said.

The trio’s office is in Walnut Creek but their target market is Oakland, the industry’s Bay Area epicenter even though the number of outlets is small compared with many other cities.

Good Green Builders “could be a million-dollar business in the next year. There are an infinite number of customers out there,” said McKenzie, a licensed contractor with a background in agriculture business who also runs a Bay Area painting company.

Few statistics exist to back up the optimistic
business plan. But medical marijuana patients currently are allowed a maximum of 72 plants indoors in a 36-square-foot growing area, as well as 20 outdoor plants. That might yield one pound every four months, according to Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam University and a staunch supporter of pro-cannabis legalization. The result: $12,000 annually at the going purchase price of $3,000 per pound among pot dispensaries. But most people would quadruple that figure.

An experienced grower can coax a higher yield and medical pot prescription holders are allowed to grow on behalf of three other patients.

Demand could skyrocket if activists such as Lee are successful in convincing Oakland officials, already scrambling to keep up with the side effects of an explosion of medical marijuana outlets, to change the city laws to allow commercial and better regulate growing operations.

Meanwhile, Lee said he favored the standardization of the cultivation side of the business, especially from a safety standpoint.

“Anything that gets people to act in a more professional way is a good thing,” he said. “It’s better for society, (for) Oakland and better politically for us.”

Before January, the trio had already built about 30 grow rooms, from a $6,000 job converting a basement into a grow room with two lights to the $30,000 conversion of a three-car garage in the Oakland hills that involved lights, reservoirs, pumps, timers exhaust fans, tables and carbon scrubbers to take the odor out of the room. They use pearlite pebbles and shredded, refined coconut husks, which are more environmentally friendly than traditional cultivation.

Customers have to own the building where they want to put a grow room and be certified to grow medical marijuana. The grow spaces are built to accommodate the number of plants they are allotted legally. Otherwise, they have to sign a contact stating they will not use the grow room for medical cannabis cultivation. That doesn’t mean people won’t turn around and do just that illegally, McKenzie said.

The actual construction of a grow room is daunting, he said.

“It takes someone who knows what they’re doing,” he said. “There are so many mistakes that can be made on the electrical side. Any fool can just run a couple of wires.”

One response to “Medical Pot Movement Something to Build on, Contractors Say”

  1. Contractors! Just Another group helping to legitimize the Cannabis Industry, Their Primary approach is actually Brilliant, SAFETY! A recipe for Disaster is having an inexperienced person trying to hook up wiring in a grow room that does not know what they are doing.

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