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The Walmart of Weed May Come Soon to a Town Near You

The hydroponics chain weGrow just opened a 10,000-foot outlet store in Sacramento and has plans for other outlets in Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, and Oregon. Can medical marijuana thrive in big-box stores?

The Walmart of Weed May Come Soon to a Town Near You
marijuana buds

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Hydroponics stores are nothing new, but the plant-growing centers generally have the habit of staying silent about the one taboo plant that grows so well using hydroponics technology: marijuana. Not so with weGrow, which claims to be the only hydroponics store that openly caters to the medical Mary Jane consumer. The Oakland, California-based superstore is so popular that it’s opening franchises all over the country, starting with a 10,000 foot outlet in Sacramento.

weGrow

The original store first opened last year in Oakland, but was closed as a retail outlet last week, in preparation to become a non-retail distribution hub for the weGrow franchise. Before its conversion, the Oakland shop featured a staff that taught medical marijuana card-carrying customers about raising pot plants, pushed nutrients and grow lights on cannabis-happy customers, and even offered an on-site doctor offering medical marijuana recommendations to paying patients.

The Sacramento store opened this past weekend, and will soon be followed by similar centers in Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, and Oregon, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Clearly, there is a hungry customer base for shops such as these. And with more and more states legalizing medical marijuana, there is no reason why weGrow (and others like it) can’t build legitimate businesses based on selling marijuana growing equipment to patients and licensed growers.

Update 2/1/11: There’s no reason weGrow can’t build a legitimate business–but that’s no guarantee that it will. The two “ganjapreneurs” behind weGrow are splitting up, it was reported yesterday in the East Bay Express and Mother Jones, potentially imperiling their business. Derek Peterson has accused his partner Dhar Mann of misleading Peterson about the companies financials and refusing to pay employees and vendors. “This was a fucking hydroponzi scheme,” Peterson told Mother Jones.

“WeGrow does pay its bills,” insisted Mann, according to the East Bay Express. “These are contractual disputes that happen with any business.”

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It appears, for the time being, that weGrow will continue to proceed with its Walmart-style expansions, only without Peterson in on the joint-venture. Peterson said he plans to take his own company GrowOp public later this year, in the hopes of competing with weGrow.

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Ariel Schwartz can be reached by email.

[Top image by Melanie Tata]

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About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more

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