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Vermonters Can Start Pot Plants July 1. Are You Ready?

Howard Weiss-Tisman
White River Growpro co-owner Kendall Smith gets ready to move a pallet of growing supplies into his store in White River Junction. Smith expects to see a big bump in business as more Vermonters grow their won cannabis.

For those with a green thumb, growing supplies are an essential step to taking advantage of Act 86 — Vermont's new marijuana law.

On a recent delivery day, an 18-wheeler is pulling into the parking lot of White River Growpro, a cannabis-focused grow store in White River Junction, just off of South Main Street.

The truck wheezes to a halt and the driver climbs out and unlatches the cab. He wheels out two of pallets of fertilizer and soil and wedges them in between a few aisles in the store.

The store’s been open since 2014, and business has been pretty good. But store co-owner Stephanie Waterman says they’ve had July 1 circled on the calendar.

“We’ve been so busy. It’s great,” she said, as she starts to go through the delivery. “We’ve been busy for a long time but we’re going to get even busier. ... we’re gearing up!”

When Act 86 goes into effect on July 1, adults 21 and older will be allowed to grow up to six plants: two mature, four immature.

MORE: "State Troopers Release Plan For How They'll Handle New Pot Law"

White River Growpro has been openly discussing how to grow pot since they opened in 2014:

Vermonters with a medical marijuana card can grow weed, and so the way they see it, anyone who walked in the store could have been a medical patient.

They never ask — though it’s possible — some of the customers have been growing illegally.

Waterman says as Vermont get closer to July 1, she’s seeing a new crowd of people who are ready to get their hands dirty.

Credit Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR
Stephanie Waterman, Kendall Smith and their daughter, Olivia, stand outside their store in White River Junction. White River Growpro has been holding informational growing seminars as Vermont gears up for July 1, when growing cannabis becomes legal.

“We have so many people coming in the store who are over the age of 60, who are interested and want to grow cannabis and want to know where to start,” she said. “And now that it’s legal they feel that they can. They haven’t been cannabis users for a while, maybe they were in the past, and they’re ready to get back to it. So it’s interesting the new markets that are coming into the cannabis industry.”

"We've been busy for a long time but we're going to get even busier so we're gearing up." — Stephanie Waterman, co-owner of White River Growpro

Matt Leonetti is not a newbie.

Leonetti was at the store putting in an order for some electric plant lights, or grow lights. He says he’s been growing weed for decades.

Leonetti, who says he was busted when he was younger,  says this law is a big deal.

“This is a day that I’ve waited for a long time,” said Leonetti. “To not have to look over my shoulder is a huge thing because that sense of fear that was there for a long time is now gone.”

Stores like Growpro have become the de facto centers for picking up supplies and getting tips on how to successfully grow marijuana.

Waterman’s husband and store co-owner, Kendall Smith, is passionate about what he does.

Smith knows over the next few months there will be a lot of people starting their first marijuana plants. He says Vermont’s experienced growers are working together to make sure they get it right.

“We really are trying to help each other to get the platform to speak and to talk and get everyone knowing, so we can be helpful in driving the direction of cannabis growing in Vermont,” said Smith. “[We are] really trying to make sure that the people who should be leading the charge are really standing out front and leading the charge, and that they’re the ones that people are listening to and getting the advice from.”

Smith says he’s stocking up for July 1, and then expects a second wave of growers to check out the store in the fall when it’s time to move inside.

White River Growpro is usually closed on Sundays. But since July 1 falls on a Sunday this year, owners Smith and Waterman say they'll be open in celebration of Act 86 going into effect.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state. 
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