Indoor marijuana growers are up in arms after hearing news of Scotts Miracle-Gro subsidiary’s acquisition of General Hydroponics. General Hydroponics is a prime supplier of liquid nutrients aimed to help indoor farmers grow sustainable food, flowers and marijuana. Hawthorne Gardening Co. is the subsidiary created by Scotts to serve the needs of indoor growers and urban gardeners. Along with the acquisition, they purchased General Hydroponics’ sister company Bio-Organic Solutions based in Marysville. Hawthorne Gardening Co. is owned by Chris Hagedorn, the oldest son of Scotts CEO, Jim Hagedorn.
General Hydroponics founder, Larry Brooke, started his company 35 years ago in his garage with nothing but a dream to help indoor gardeners thrive. Although his products have helped indoor farmers grow prosperous plants, his intention was never to cater to any one particular industry. That might be hard to believe with product names like BioBud, BioWeed and BioThrive.
Some opponents to the acquisition believe that the merge was a carefully orchestrated plan on the part of Scotts to stake their claim in the growing marijuana industry by creating Hawthorne Gardening Co. Marijuana growers are especially wary since they know that Scotts is in cahoots with GM giant Monsanto. Scotts is the sole distributor of Monsanto herbicides and pesticides in North America, the UK, France, Germany and Austria.
Controversy seems to follow Scotts. In 2012, Scotts was tangled up in a scandal with the Environmental Protection Agency. They were fined $4 million for violation of federal insecticide, fungicide and rodenticide laws. They were caught on record putting insecticides in bird food and covering it up.
Hydroponics retailers worry that the acquisition could lead General Hydroponics products to be taken off their shelves in favor of bigger store retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Opponents to the merge see this as a bigger shark eating a smaller shark scenario. The Wall Street-backed firm could be seen as taking advantage of a leader in the hydroponic industry for their own selfish gain. The creation of Hawthorne Gardening Co. is seen as a careful maneuver to distance the tarnished Scotts name from the blossoming cannabis industry.
Any mention of an association with Scotts has been stricken from press releases mainly because marijuana growers have blacklisted Scotts products. Their low-end fertilizers claim to help grow marijuana plants; but in fact, they are too harsh for growing high-quality cannabis. Some continue to use it for its relatively cheap price, though.
Indoor marijuana growers use hydroponic nutrient products to maximize the yield and efficacy of their final product. They’ve relied more heavily on hydroponic nutrient after the boom in the medical marijuana industry in recent years. California's Sonoma County has especially seen the soil-free growing business thrive.
Founder Larry Brooke’s double-speak on the marijuana industry is suspect. He and Maximum Yield Magazine, a free “how to” indoor growing magazine, censor even the slightest mention of marijuana. Complaints abound of General Hydroponics turning growers away after they mention what they produce.
Voters in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia have stood up with a resounding "yes" in favor of recreational use of marijuana. California seems like it will follow suit relatively soon. The trend seems to show a normalization of cannabis, yet the producer of the nutrient-rich liquid that aids in the production remains a silent observer.