Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pot: A growing business Downtown hydroponics store part of statewide trend

Owners of the new hydroponics store in Downtown Auburn are taking a
"live and let live" approach to their customers.

James Grubbs and Josh Clinton say growing marijuana is not the
shop's primary focus.

"We don't look down on it or promote it either," James
Grubbs said Tuesday. "We sell (the equipment and supplies) and they
do what they want with it."

High Street Hydro, which opened at the beginning of the year, carries
everything for the indoor grower as well as top-grade fertilizers,
nutrients and other products for "dirt" growers.

The inventory ranges from starter packs and fluorescent light setups for
the gardener who wants to cultivate seedlings for spring planting, to
sophisticated irrigation systems, aeroponic cloners and high-powered

Cost for a 12-plant hydroponics system will run about $1,000, Grubbs

Clinton said he doesn't grow marijuana and that's not his

"We try to separate ourselves from that, somewhat because of the
fact that it is not 100 percent legal, " he said.

But in fact, the proliferation of hydroponics vendors is a trend,
according to Don DeVries, former owner of A-Town Deli in Downtown
Auburn. DeVries sold the eatery recently to focus fulltime on
constructing indoor grow rooms.

"I've been building stuff all my life," he said. "I saw
all the hydroponics companies coming into town. They had all the
products but no one had a complete room."

He readily acknowledges his customers are purchasing the rooms to grow

"Lots of people are growing their own marijuana," he said.
"They don't want to rely on dealing with the wrong element and
not knowing what they're consuming. They know if they've grown
it, it is safe."

DeVries' company, ProGro, handles only construction.

"We don't want to distribute the product," he said. "We
want to build the means to do what (customers) want to do."

DeVries said he provides a safe and sanitary way to cultivate indoors.

"People are using tents and lights that aren't functional,"
he said. "It's a problem that scared me. I saw people's
rooms and the electrical was unsafe. (My company's products) are UL

He plans to have a booth showcasing his new busineses at the upcoming
cannabis festival at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

"We had a 70-year-old man look at our room," DeVries said.
"(His comment was) `The only ones who got rich during the Gold
Rush sold the picks and shovels.'"

According to Auburn Police Capt. John Ruffcorn, the state health and
safety code makes it legal under the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition
215) for qualified caregivers and patients with a medical grow card to
cultivate marijuana.

"The limit has been possession of no more than eight ounces of dried
marijuana per patient or six mature or 12 immature plants per qualified
patient or caregiver," he said.

Those boundaries are in flux, however, following the People vs. Kelly
state Supreme Court decision in February that basically says the actual
amount that was originally intended (in the law) is not necessarily the
true amount.

"(The ruling) gives people the ability to possess more as long as
they have an accurate and valid medical marijuana card," Ruffcorn

The Auburn Police Department won't be paying extra attention to High
Street Hydro unless the situation warrants.

"Our point is, if it passed all the city codes and gets all the city
permits and they're not selling anything illegal, we'd support
any business," he said. "If it becomes a business that attracts
criminal activity, it will rise on our radar screen. But if they are
abiding by all state and federal laws, they would be of the same concern
to us as any other business."

At High Street Hydro Tuesday, a customer said he came into the store
because he spotted the growlight in the window.

While he offered a comment, he refused to give his name.

"It allows you to start a garden early instead of relying on the
short growing season in the hills," he said.

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