Meeting a growing demand: Organic farm supplier angling for medical pot market

  • Chance Strom and Josh Lagreze, owners of Western Mass Garden Supply in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt 

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Recorder Staff

GREENFIELD — After Massachusetts voters enacted legislation allowing the use of medical marijuana — including the right for patients to grow their own cannabis if they have proof of hardship — two Franklin County residents jumped on the opportunity to join a growing market.

Chance Strom of Montague and Joshua Lagreze of Shutesbury opened Western Mass. Organic Garden Supply on Kenwood Street. The store sells organic indoor gardening supplies for all kinds of uses — not just growing medical marijuana — but Strom said “there’s absolutely nothing wrong with what people are doing” and he said he is glad to be able to help out those who can’t afford to go to an official pot dispensary.

“Chains are starting to come in here as legalization happens and people are growing their own medicine, there’s a lot of money to be spent,” he said. “We’d rather be here to give people good deals and help that money get spent locally versus a chain.”

At present a company called Patriot Care is preparing to open a state-approved dispensary at the former American Legion building in Greenfield.

Strom and Lagreze, who both previously worked building high-end, green homes for Obear Construction, said they were always interested in gardening and saw a niche in Greenfield. Although the Greenfield Farmers Co-Op already sells garden supplies in town, Strom said the two stores aren’t really competitors, as Western Mass. Organic Garden Supply sells more specialty products while the co-op has more general offerings.

“It’s a growing market and there isn’t a store like this for 30 miles in any direction, so we’re jumping on it,” he said. “There are other stores like this down in Springfield and Holyoke and one up in Putney, Vt. I did some research and up and down the 91 corridor, they’re pulling in millions of dollars in sales for indoor gardening.”

Strom said business has been slowly increasing. The store is self-financed and has a limited marketing budget, he said, but they’re in the black and are focused on growing their inventory.

He estimated about 85 percent of customers who come in come back.

“We’re really trying to be dynamic with what the local market wants and so we have catalogs we give everybody and tell them to tell us what we should stock,” he said, adding he’s also planning to offer brewing supplies within the next year or so.

As far as medical marijuana patients go, Strom said he’s seen an uptick in those who are growing their own medicine, especially over the winter.

Patients who provide proof they do not have the transportation or financial resources required to access a dispensary can get a hardship license, which allows them to grow their own marijuana.

“The dispensaries aren’t affordable for a lot of people who actually need it,” Strom said, adding they also don’t offer all the options people need.

“It’s not all about smoking and getting high,” he continued. “Some people juice entire plants daily, they don’t get intoxicated at all, and that’s effective depending on what you’re trying to treat.”

Western Mass. Organic Garden Supply is located at 12 Kenwood St. and is open Tuesday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

You can reach Aviva Luttrell at: aluttrell@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268 On Twitter follow: @AvivaLuttrell