Doug Guy doesn’t consume cannabis — but he believes in its power to heal. A friend who wanted to grow marijuana in Massachusetts got him thinking about the plant for the first time.
“My friend was talking about putting tents in people’s yards and then doing a co-op grow and splitting the yield,” Guy says. “I told him it was a brilliant idea, but also illegal.”
The conversation inspired Guy to seek out legal alternatives, which led him to Cloudponics — one of several companies offering home-grow boxes intended to replace rudimentary tent and closet grows. The GroBox is a sleek piece of technology, one whose appeal comes from the simplicity of use and the fact that the tower-shaped unit can easily be wedged into a living room without drawing attention to itself. As long as you don’t hang any black-light Doors posters on it, it really does blend in.
More importantly, devices like the GroBox have enabled people to grow their own medicine in relative safety and seclusion in places where cannabis is not legally available. As a co-owner of a logistics company in Dallas, Guy was intrigued enough to team with Cloudponics and establish GroTek, a distributor for the boxes covering the Northeast.
Guy is personally familiar with the need to find alternative treatments to chronic and debilitating conditions. A disabled veteran, he broke his leg in six places falling from a helicopter while on duty in Iraq in 1992 and still experiences discomfort. While he manages his pain with CBD oil, it’s the stories from other home-box users that inspire him to continue spreading the word.
One example is a young man from Texas. To protect his identity — medicinal cannabis remains illegal in Texas — we’ll call him Daniel. Guy saw Daniel giving a GroBox demonstration on YouTube and messaged him to connect.
“I asked him what made him decide to buy a box,” Guy recalls. “He told me that he and his wife both suffer from such bad anxiety that when they go outside and meet other people, they have panic attacks. For his wife, it was so bad that she couldn’t even have a job. He told me, ‘We have two kids, and they are like prisoners in our home.’ ”
Daniel’s story may be extreme, but it’s one to which many marijuana patients can relate. Even in states where it’s legal to grow your own plants, the process is hardly a simple one. From managing mineral infusions to monitoring water levels to adjusting light schedules, cannabis is a fickle plant that requires more than a beginner’s green thumb. However, for patients like Daniel, growing is sometimes the only option.
Guy reports that after two months with a GroBox, Daniel and his wife were able to fully wean themselves off of the potent, numbing anti-anxiety medications they were taking. Daniel also told him that the process of growing and tending to his plants itself became a form of therapy.
“He said it’s had such a calming effect that recently he and his wife were able to go to IHOP for pancakes with their kids,” Guy says. “He has two daughters — a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old — and they’d never been out of the house as a family.”
Another individual Guy met is a fellow Iraq veteran who was hit by an IED and suffered severe head injuries. Technically considered “120-percent disabled,” the veteran lives in Connecticut and receives a monthly check from the government. Were he to register for his state’s medical marijuana program, he would lose his right to bear arms, so getting a grow box was the perfect solution.
“He’s not on pain medicine or any other psychotropic medications,” Guy reports. “I think he said the last grow he did was 9 ounces. That’s more than enough for what he needs.”
While the purchase of a grow box may seem prohibitively high — for example, the Cloudponics GroBox currently retails for $2,490 — the cost of regulated cannabis here in California may inspire some people to consider the long-term savings. When considering options outside the state — and especially in areas where cannabis possession and cultivation is still subject to outrageously strict legal ramifications — the appeal of having what essentially looks like a refrigerator-sized beige cabinet is hard to deny.
“You can grow right in your living room, and nobody would be the wiser,” Guy notes.
Throw in the fact that these products are increasingly being sold with “smart” technology that knows when to dim the lights and water the plants, and it’s easy to see why folks like Daniel and the veteran from Connecticut are growing their medicine at home.
Grow boxes may be the result of a government unable to rectify its citizen’s clear demand for legalized cannabis across the country, but until a more permanent solution comes along, you may start to notice some new furniture the next time you visit your friends and family.
Zack Ruskin covers news, culture, and music for SF Weekly.
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