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The California economy is in trouble, but there's at least one industry in the state that's booming: medical marijuana.

Even though medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, the people working in the industry continue to operate in the shadows of legal uncertainty. Dispensary owners and growers live in constant fear of being raided by federal agents who maintain that marijuana, medicinal or otherwise, remains illegal under federal law. And for years, indoor marijuana growers have dropped big bucks on growing equipment while keeping mum about what exactly it is they've been growing.

In Oakland, however, things are changing. Earlier this year iGrow (now called weGrow) became the first hydroponics store to come out of the grow closet and proclaim to the world that they exist to help farmers grow more and better medical marijuana. iGrow's slogan? There's no such thing as a $10,000 tomato!

We went to iGrow, the first US hydroponics superstore catering explicitly to pot farmers, to learn more about the burgeoning medical marijuana industry in California.

Approximately 6.5 minutes. Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning.

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Tuesday PRO Days at weGrow!

Each Tuesday PRO Day will feature a different theme and 1-3 handpicked vendors.  PRO Days will be scheduled every Tuesday from 4pm-6pm, with a weGrow staff training following from 6:30pm-7:30pm.  This is a great way to introduce our Customers to your Products, and provide direct hands-on training to our Staff so that we can effectively sell your products after you're gone.  Booths will be reasonably priced at $100 plus a small product donation. 
We will also advertise a 20% Promotional Price on Featured Products for the week following the PRO Day.

Below is our tentative schedule of PRO Days and Themes:

  • November 9th:  The Wonders of Hydroponics, Modern Innovations in Indoor Growing.  Featuring:
    • GrowOp Enterprises
    • SuperCloset Grow Systems
    • SunPulse Bulbs

  • November 16th:  Harvesting and Trimming, Making the Most of your Crop
    • Samurai Trimmer
    • Kief-o-Matic
    • Fiskars
    • GB Designs presents "The Tumbler"
    • Advanced Nutrients presents the "Trim Reaper"

  • November 30th:  Organic Gardening, Mother Nature is the Best Nutrient
    • Rainbow Worms and Earth Teas
    • Organics Alive
    • E.B. Stone
    • Sunland Garden Products

  • December 7th:  Modern Nutrients, They're Not Just for Hydro Anymore!
    • EZ Feed Systems
    • Advanced Nutrients presents their Newest Products
    • BioBizz Organic Nutrients
    • DutchMaster
    • Humboldt Organics

  • December 14th:  Pest Control, Getting Rid of Those Pesky Buggers
    • DynaGro, the first name in Neem Oil
    • Safer Garden Products
    • Doktor Doom Mite Killer
    • SNS217 Mite Spray
    • Ed Rosenthal's Zero Tolerance
  • December 21st:  Cloning, The Gift that Keeps on Giving
    • Stealth Grow LEDs
    • GrowPanelPro LEDs
    • CloneKit
    • EZ Clone
    • Push Kush Clone Deliveries
    • Billberry Farms Organic Solutions

For Californians considering growing their own marijuana, the WeGrow superstore in Oakland, California, stocks everything an aspiring home cannabis producer needs.

Original Story

Walking around this B&Q of cannabis is a surreal experience. Marijuana is still illegal in the United States under federal law, although growing it for medicinal purposes has been legal under Californian state law since 1996.

Hydroponic feed solutions are stacked high in aisles that run the length of the 15,000 square foot warehouse.

There are propagators for starting your garden, large lamps to create artificial daylight for your plants and drying racks for the harvested buds.

Amy Almsteier and husband Derek Oppedisano founded WeGrow after Derek broke his neck surfing.

Both gave up jobs in other industries to take a gamble on the emerging California market for medicinal marijuana growing.

On November 2, California will be voting whether to approve Proposition 19, a law which would also legalise the drug for personal recreational use.


Michael Hunt
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October 2, 2010

60,000 sq. ft. Marijuana Cultivation Facility to be Unveiled near Oakland Airport

Leading Mayoral Candidates Don Perata and Jean Quan to Attend Grow Facility Unveiling

Oakland, CA - On Sunday, October 3rd, Oakland Mayoral Candidates Don Perata, Jean Quan will join Councilmember Larry Reid and community leaders to celebrate the national expansion of "marijuana superstore" weGrow Hydroponics (formerly iGrow).

In less than 8 months, weGrow has become the first hydroponic superstore to appear around the country, with over 75 franchise stores already under contract. weGrow will commemorate their new national brand and store with a ceremonial tree planting (in lieu of a ribbon cutting), and also present the first architectural 3D video renderings of their proposed 60,000 square foot LEED-certified marijuana cultivation facility. weGrow will submit their application to become one of the four cultivation sites permitted by the City of Oakland via their sister company, GROPECH.

When the retail franchise opened in January, under the name iGrow Hydroponics, the event received worldwide media coverage, becoming the first store of is kind to offer 15,000 square feet of turnkey marijuana products and services. The facility offered an on-site doctor for medical marijuana evaluations, Ikea-style live marijuana plant grow demonstrations, the University of Cannabis for marijuana education, and a Bloom Room for in-home technician build-outs and consulting all under one roof. The new facility includes 53' Big Bud reefer trailers that are mobile hydroponic grow rooms, a live plant demonstration of the marijuana cultivation process from seed to sale, and even more marijuana plants than ever before.

LEED Certified GROPECH architect, Eddie Piatt will unveil a first look at the proposed 60,000 Sq. ft. marijuana cultivation facility that, pending permit approval, will go live in late January 2011. The facility will employ over 200 Oakland residents, provide an estimated $5 million dollars in Oakland tax revenue, and produce nearly 350 pounds of marijuana a week, or approximately 20,000 pounds a year. The facility will replicate a medical laboratory and has been designed by environmental experts with the intent on having the first LEED Certified marijuana cultivation facility in the world.

Tours of the remodeled facility will be given after comments by Oakland political and community leaders. Following the press conference will be an outdoor expo with free live music, entertainment and food. Over 1,000 people are expected to attend with more than 50 small businesses exhibitors.

Schedule of Events for Sunday, October 3rd

LOCATION: weGrow Hydroponics – 70 Hegenberger Loop Oakland, CA

10:30AM - Luncheon and Mixer for VIPs

10:45AM - Media Arrival

11:00AM - Press Conference Begins

11:30AM - Q&A

11:55AM - Ceremonial Tree Planting (In lieu of traditional Ribbon Cutting)

12:00PM - General Doors Open, Facility Tours Given, Main Event Party Starts

4:20PM - Silent Auction Winners Announced

6:00PM - Party Concludes



LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writers
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) ― Local governments in California and other Western states have tried to clamp down on medical marijuana, but Oakland has taken a different approach.

If you can't beat 'em, tax 'em.

After becoming the first U.S. city to impose a special tax on medical marijuana dispensaries, Oakland soon could become the first to sanction and tax commercial pot growing operations. Selling and growing marijuana remain illegal under federal law.

Two City Council members are preparing legislation, expected to be introduced next month, that would allow at least three industrial-scale growing operations.

One of the authors, Councilman Larry Reid, said the proposal is more of an effort to bring in money than an endorsement of legalizing marijuana use — although the council has unanimously supported that, too.

The city is facing a $42 million budget shortfall. The tax voters approved last summer on the four medical marijuana clubs allowed under Oakland law is expected to contribute $1 million to its coffers in the first year, Reid said. A tax on growers' sales to the clubs could bring in substantially more, he said.

"Looking at the economic analysis, we will generate a considerable amount of additional revenues, and that will certainly help us weather the hard economic times that all urban areas are having to deal with," Reid said.

How much money is at stake isn't clear because the tax rate and the number of facilities the law would allow haven't been decided. A report prepared for AgraMed Inc., one of the companies planning to seek a grower's license, said its proposed 100,000-square-foot-project near the Oakland Coliseum would produce more than $2 million in city taxes each year.

Given their likely locations in empty warehouses in industrial neighborhoods, the marijuana nurseries under consideration would have more in common with factories than rural pot farms.

Dhar Mann, the founder of an Oakland hydroponics equipment store called iGrow, and Derek Peterson, a former stock broker who now sells luxury trailers outfitted for growing pot as a co-founder of GrowOp Enterprises, have hired an architect to draft plans for two warehouses where marijuana would be grown and processed year-round.

Their vision includes using lights, trays and other equipment manufactured by iGrow and creating an online system that would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to see what pot strains are in stock, place orders and track deliveries.

"We are emulating the wine industry, but instead of 'from grape to bottle,' it's 'from plant to pipe,'" Mann said.

"Or seed to sack," offered Peterson.

The pair say they intend to operate the pot-growing business they have dubbed GROPECH — Grass Roots of Oakland Philanthropic and Economic Coalition for Humanity — as a not-for-profit. They anticipate gross sales reaching $70 million a year. After paying their expenses, they'd funnel the money to local charities and non-profits through a competitive grant process.

The discussion in Oakland comes amid a statewide campaign to make California the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana and to authorize cities to sell and tax sales to adults. Another Oakland pot entrepreneur, Richard Lee, is sponsoring a ballot measure voters will consider in November.

Lee, who owns two of Oakland's four dispensaries as well as Oaksterdam University, a trade school for the medical marijuana industry, hopes to secure one of the cultivation permits, but he thinks the city should opt for having more, smaller sites instead of a handful of large ones.

"We need to legalize and tax and regulate the production side as well as the retail side," Lee said. "It's a natural step."

Other supporters say licensed growers would create hundreds of well-paying jobs. The local branch of the United Food and Commercial Workers union already has signed up about 100 medical marijuana workers, and the growers are expected to have union shops as well, said Dan Rush, special operations director of UFCW Local 5.

"I think Oakland's intention is to make Oakland the leader and the trendsetter in how this industry can be effective in all of California," Rush said.

Allowing medical marijuana to be grown openly also could give patients a better idea of where their pot is coming from. Now, many growers hide their identities to avoid federal prosecution.

Oakland has already developed a reputation as one of the nation's most pot-friendly cities. Legislation on the city's books includes a declaration of a public health emergency after federal crackdowns on marijuana clubs and a ballot measure instructing police to make marijuana their lowest enforcement priority.

Self-described "guru of ganja" Ed Rosenthal, a popular writer of pot-growing how-to books, lived in Oakland for 25 years before moving recently to a more affluent borough nearby. He credits the city's positive attitude toward marijuana to a critical mass of activists who have flocked there since the 1970s.

"The whole population of Oakland is just very progressive," Rosenthal said. "It's the radicals who couldn't afford Berkeley or San Francisco who all moved to Oakland."

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