Couple helps people grow marijuana with products from Hadley shop

Couple helps people grow marijuana with products from Hadley shop

HADLEY — Gary Capone and Nicole Stetzer were looking to buy a small garden shop when they learned that the Here We Grow hydroponic shop was for sale on Route 9.

The couple didn’t know that it was a store that supplied the accessories for marijuana growing.

“We thought it would be a nice retirement business,” Capone said.  “We wanted to have fun with it.”

They learned after meeting the owner, who was moving to Colorado, to focus on soil for marijuana, Stetzer said. The couple decided to give it a go.

Here We Grow is one of a handful of Western Massachusetts businesses that sell products for the cannabis grower.

The couple had been living in Florida, where she ran an animal hospital. Capone had been in the Army for eight years and was doing online marketing. They met about eight years ago.

There was, and is, nothing illegal about the business — they didn’t and still don’t sell marijuana (neither marijuana plants nor seeds can be sold in Massachusetts).  But people knew the business focused on helping people grow it.

Stetzer has a degree in horticulture and had operated a greenhouse in the Berkshires. Both love to grow vegetables and have a year-round garden at their South Hadley home. They were ready to learn.

Initially, Capone said, “coming from the military, I strongly opposed it (marijuana.)”

Plus, he was familiar with addiction — his brother died of alcoholism.

But then he started seeing the medicinal benefits and how marijuana was helping veterans cope with pain or post-traumatic stress.

“I didn’t even know this world existed,” he said. “This opened my eyes.”

Since then, he uses a little to help him sleep or for headaches. Stetzer said use of marijuana results in a high if it’s heated, not ingested.

Before home growing became legal, they were supplying dispensaries with what they needed.  Voters approved an ballot question in 2012 to legalize marijuana for medical use.

But business exploded beginning Nov. 9, the day after voters in Massachusetts approved the legalization of recreational marijuana.

A sign on the store now says, ”Looking to grow your 12 plants? We are here to help.” (The law legalizing marijuana in the Bay State allows home growers to grow up to six marijuana plants per person or 12 per residence.) The sign went up just a few weeks ago, they said.

And that’s what they do – provide what people need to have a healthy plant.

Stetzer, 48, said she helps customers in their 80s and 90s, some who come in pushing walkers who are looking to grow plants, and people who grew up smoking in college in the ’60s and ’70s happy that it’s legal.

Capone, 53, said many people first entering the shop wondered if he was a police officer because of his age.

But now, he said, “people like dealing with us.”

The couple is happy happy to help newbies to marijuana growing, having learned much by reading and talking to knowledgeable customers, Stetzer said.

“Customers talk about (the various strains of the plant) like they’re talking about wine. People become true connoisseurs,” Capone said.

The store sells everything from the grow houses to control the climate to the soil, nutrients and lights.

Stetzer said people really want to control what they grow, so she thinks even after retail marijuana shops open next year, business will continue to boom.

People who grow their own “can grow specifically what they want. It’s organic,” she said

“People who control the environment, they’ll all having great results,” Stetzer said.



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