Growing pot is now legal in the state of Arizona, but that doesn't mean it's not a challenge to start that little victory garden.
Adults over the age of 21 can legally grow up to six plants (or up to 12 in a residence housing two or more adults over 21). But many potential rookie growers don't know the best schedule for planting, the best soil to use or even where to get seeds.
If you want in-person instruction rather than watching a YouTube video and hoping for the best, the local cultivation experts at Growershouse have expanded their retail outlet near downtown Tucson and have begun offering classes on growing weed.
The facility rolled out its initial offering on April 17 with "Growing Legally 101," featuring Jimmy Graham and Bruce Laird from Seed2Sail. Graham and Laird have 15 years growing experience and offer a wide range of services, from planning home grows to acting as "cannascapers," tending crops for snowbirds going home for the summer.
Laird is a combat veteran who served multiple tours in Afghanistan and has used cannabis to help treat PTSD, which has yet to be recognized as a qualifying condition in the state of Arizona.
"Cannabis helped me during a suicidal state in my life," Laird said. "I dropped all the medications given me by the VA and with God and my faith, cannabis has been my medicine."
Laird grew up in northern Arkansas, where he started growing his own with the knowledge that it was a felonious act that could have ruined his life had he been caught.
Graham has been growing pot for a long time and has learned a lot from the staff at Growershouse.
"When I first started, I had to learn how to grow 'tomatoes,'" he said, using a common euphemism among growers (Tomatoes thrive under similar circumstances as cannabis.) "There was no internet back then so you had to order books from High Times and hope they actually make it to your house."
The class gave participants a bird's-eye view of the growing process from seed to harvest, which generally takes about 80 days and can be a lot of work, depending on scale.
"Getting started is the tough part, but once you're growing it gets easier," Graham said. "Sometimes, you lose everything the first time and it takes a lot of trial and error."
Home growers also face a wide range of decisions on whether to grow indoors or outdoors, types of medium to grow in and how much time and money they want to devote to their gardens.
According to Scott Rogers, Growershouse director of e-commerce and digital marketing, a basic one-pot starter kit is around $77, but to really dive in expect to spend $200-$300 minimum.
"As you expand, there are costs for expanded tents, lights, nutrients and other equipment," Rogers said. "We're in on the ground floor though, and have experts that can really help."
Prop 207 states that home cultivation must take place out of sight from the public, in a "closet, room, greenhouse or other enclosed area on the grounds of the residence equipped with a lock or other security device that prevents access by minors."
For outside grows, gardens must be "in an area where the marijuana plants are not visible from public view without using binoculars, aircraft or other optical aids."
It is legal for a home-grower to give away the fruits of their labor as long as they don't get paid for it in cash or trade and it is not "advertised or promoted to the public." Growers are allowed to give away seeds and starters with the same caveats.
While legal home cultivation is still in its infancy—many of the final rules will come down from the Arizona Department of Health Services once they are finally written—Graham and Laird hope it is the beginning of an explosion that will bring access to everyone who wants to legally consume cannabis and also for the development of new strains of weed.
"A year from now, my hope is we'll all be growing and sharing our genetics," Graham said. "Now that the taboo is lifted, it's time to blow the lid off."
Growershouse has become one of the largest cannabis-focused e-commerce hydroponics and indoor gardening suppliers in the U.S., according to a press release announcing the expansion.
The company, founded in 2011 by father-and-son team Paul and Nate Lipton, recently moved from a 1,000-square-foot location in a strip mall on Valencia Road to a 40,000-square-foot warehouse with a 2,700-square-foot retail store. Growershouse specializes in providing supplies online for both home and professional growers worldwide.
The new retail space features grow tents, hydroponic kits, irrigation systems, LED lights, nutrients, soil and an extensive selection of equipment and supplies. The experts at Growershouse can offer advice and supplies for growers on any scale, price range or ability.
After a 47% sales increase in 2020, the company has spent the past three months preparing and moving into the new space, according to Growershouse CEO Angela Kapp.
In a recent email, Kapp said her team "did a terrific job transforming the space from a warehouse outlet to something that fits Growershouse at this [point] of our company and brand."
The company plans to get feedback from the inaugural class and then decide where the program will go from there, with an expectation of at least one class a month.
The company's website refers to "hydroponics," which has traditionally meant growing indoors in a liquid medium, but over time the meaning of the word has changed.
"The term 'hydroponics' has become synonymous with the association of 'equipment to grow cannabis,'" Kapp said "Retailers needed a term to separate themselves from nurseries and garden stores, but since it's still federally illegal they couldn't say 'marijuana cultivation equipment store.'"
The staff at Growershouse is "truly just focused on the sale of equipment to grow what we like to call 'high-value crops,'" she added. "This includes growing in hydroponics, coco coir and soil. It also includes growing in environments such as indoor, greenhouse and outdoors."
GrowersHouse is located at 3635 E. 34th St. For additional information visit growershouse.com.
Seed2Sail offers a variety of services and can arrange for soil and water testing. Contact information can be found on their Facebook page at facebook.com/seed2sail.