“It’s a weed, you know?” he points out. “People are afraid to grow cannabis because they think it’s a difficult job with a sensitive plant. I’ve seen people try to kill cannabis and it comes back. It’s really just a hardy plant where if you treat it right, you might get three times as much from it than if you neglect it. But even if you do neglect it, it’s going to do well for you. You just need the right stuff to grow it with.”
Lipton is here to provide that right stuff. He’s just opened a local version of Growers House, the largest supplier of hydroponic supplies in the state, in west Phoenix, at 3403 N. 35th Avenue. Lipton and his father, Paul, launched the company a decade ago in Tucson, and it’s gone on to become one of the largest cannabis-focused suppliers of hydroponics and indoor gardening supplies in the country.
“Growing cannabis is a really relaxing hobby,” Lipton says with no trace of irony. His westside store offers everything from the best soil for growing weed to the vinyl tents to wrap around it. Lipton is catering to amateurs and professionals, but he’s especially fond of first-time gardeners who come in convinced they can’t do this.
“They walk into a store like ours and they’re like, ‘How does this work, how much equipment do I need, how much is this going to cost me?’ They seem convinced it's going to be harder than it is.”
He admits his inventory — grow tents, hydroponic kits, irrigation systems, LED lights, nutrients, bags of dirt — can be intimidating. Lipton does what he can to reassure first-time ganja gardeners.
“All you need is a couple hundred dollars to grow your legal limit of six cannabis plants,” he says. “If you’re growing indoors, you want to add a grow light to that for a few hundred bucks more. And you’ll probably end up growing, let’s call it two pounds of cannabis in three or four months. That’s about $6,000 worth for your investment of a few hundred dollars.”
Lipton’s favorite product is a passive watering system that allows you to leave your plants for up to two weeks. “It’s hydroponics for busy people,” he says. He’s also partial to a variety of carbon-filtered fans that remove the smell of pot-growing from your house or apartment. “When the plants are flowering, they tend to smell like cannabis,” he says. “These fans let you be discreet.”
When he isn’t selling fans and helping customers with their marijuana math, Lipton plays host to Canna Cribs, a YouTube series on cannabis cultivation. Think the Discovery Channel’s How It’s Made, except with pot plants. His series has toted up nearly 10 million views, Lipton claims.
“It’s nuts,” he says of a world where marijuana is legal and you can go buy stuff designed specifically to help you grow it. “You’ve got drinks and edibles and patches, and 70-year-old grandmothers eating an edible every night before bed. It’s a societal shift where you’re seeing more people working in this industry, and everyone is being very matter-of-fact about that. Not to mention the profits.”
Thanks to those profits, Lipton’s father has retired now — and just in time, Lipton admits. “He's a great guy, and he was driving me crazy. My father is a Brooklyn-born hustler who grew up selling mail-order electronics, an old-school merchant who loves to negotiate and loves a sale. I’m a Web 2.0 kid. And trying to marry those two worlds, we almost ripped one another’s head off.”