‘Wal-Mart of Weed’ Gardening Store Opens to High-Fives

February 28, 2011 – This wasn’t going to be a typical grand opening, just another staid ribbon cutting where fellow business people welcome the newest merchant to town.

The turnout was a bit more eclectic – and decidedly more fragrant – Saturday as a giant hydroponics store – which embraces its moniker as “the Wal-Mart of Weed” – opened in Sacramento.

The new weGrow store on Fulton Avenue was stocked with donated marijuana plants from medicinal growers to show off its inventory of hydroponics lighting and its unabashed embrace of the medical pot market.

Most hydroponics or gardening stores – whose customers may be people growing pot – will quickly end any conversation that mentions marijuana.

They are uncomfortable because of federal laws against pot cultivation and they don’t want to alienate equipment suppliers that serve traditional organic farmers, vegetable growers and stores in states where medical use remains illegal.

But at this event, for a retail outlet that calls itself “The First Honest Hydro Store,” marijuana was just the conversation starter for an unusual celebration of legal cannabis commerce in California.

Rancho Cordova insurance executive Mike Aberle, whose MMD Insurance provides coverage for marijuana businesses, turned out to pitch his new “government action” policies that cover legal costs of people raided by the cops. The one catch is they can’t collect if convicted of a crime.

Dean Clark, who once ran a company that manufactured electric lockboxes for real estate agents, came to show off his MedGuard Safes company’s new medical cannabis lockbox that will conveniently fit near any bathroom medicine cabinet.

Elsewhere, there were representatives for Sacramento marijuana dispensaries – dispensing T-shirts but no pot – and an outpouring of medical marijuana advocates.

It was all for a gardening supply store that doesn’t sell any marijuana but packs its shelves with plant nutrients called “Kushie Kush” and “Big Bud,” and caters to customers who grow medical marijuana.

The store, the first franchise from an Oakland warehouse outlet that opened last year, requires customers to present proof of a physician’s medical marijuana recommendation before staff guides them on equipment purchases to grow their own. The store will also offer classes in cultivation.

“I’m really glad they’re going to be teaching patients and they’re going to be securely checking who they are teaching,” said Ryan Landers, California director for a medical users’ advocacy group, the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis.

George Mull, attorney for the store and a lobbyist for the California Cannabis Association, said the outlet’s marketing pitch “bravely and strongly” supports “patient cultivators.”

But to avoid running into trouble with police, its pot plants – registered to individual medical cannabis patients – are for display only. They are to be pulled from the store before they flower with marijuana buds.

At the grand opening, Frederick H. Nesbitt III, an executive chef who runs a Millbrae catering company and another business – CannabisCatering.com, which specializes in marijuana dishes – whipped up omelettes for the guests. He made sure that the only potent ingredients were sausages and peppers.

As people lined up for his creations, filling his tip jar with $1 and $5 bills, one dropped in something extra. He tipped with a few buds of pot. By Peter Hecht. Source.


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