Most people in the cannabis industry have a social consciousness when it comes to environmental matters and strong preference for organic processes. Growers are keenly aware of how chemical fertilizers and pesticides have the ability to change the taste and quality of a marijuana plant and cause unwanted effects when consumed. Many people that enjoy the benefits of marijuana are also concerned with how plants have been grown and are aware of the difference in quality. So the arrival of the Monsanto-supporting Scotts Miracle-Gro in the cannabis industry has had some growers confused.
An Ambitious Array of Buy-Outs
Scotts Miracle-Gro is making a major play for a large portion of marijuana industry profits. It is currently putting a major focus on indoor growing and hydroponics, buying several companies that are successful in the market. The company bought out the Dutch grow lighting and hardware company Gavita for $136 million dollars and has just made a deal to buy Botanicare, the Arizona based plant nutrient and hydroponics company that has made about $40 million in sales. Scots Miracle-Gro has been operating through its subsidiary, Hawthorne Gardening Co., to invest in companies like Boulder’s Aerogrow, an indoor gardening company and they spent $130 million buying out California’s General Hydroponics last year.
According to a Bloomberg earnings call transcript, Scott’s Miracle-Gro CEO Jim Hagedorn said “I think we have a good vision on where we want to go with it that doesn’t freak out my board or my lawyers. And I’m really pleased with that. But I think it’s both. I think it’s both: we have ideas on how we can be good stewards of these businesses and really become essential partners to the community of people who use these products, one. And two, just take advantage of something that’s high margin, high growth.”
The Legal History of Scotts Miracle-Gro
On September 11, 2012, Scotts pled guilty to a number of charges which included misleading consumers with unapproved labels and falsifying insecticide registrations including knowingly using toxic chemicals in wild bird food. They were ordered to pay 12.5 million in criminal fines, which is the largest penalty ever set by the Federal Insecticide and Rodenticide Act. The company used Storcide II and Actellic 5E to stop insects from damaging bird food in storage, knowing that they contain chemicals that are highly toxic to humans, birds, fish and other wildlife.
Violating Federal Pesticide Law
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found over 100 products that are either produced or owned by Scotts that violated federal pesticide laws in the last 5 years. In 2008, the EPA had to issue a “stop sale, use or removal” order against Scotts Miracle-Gro and three of its affiliates for illegal, unregistered and misbranded weed and fertilizer products as well as lawn care products, that were found to have pesticide ingredients that cause cancer and disrupt the endocrine system, which governs the health of hormones in the body.
With a history of dangerous, toxic business practices like this that indicate a blatant disregard for the people who buy and use their products, along with the soil and any other living creature that comes in contact with the product, it’s hard to trust Scotts Miracle-Gro. Their products have been known to kill soil and make plants extremely difficult to grow, producing small, somewhat malformed versions of what the plant could be. Its association and promotion of Monsanto, the company that has made the toxic genetic mutilation of food common practice, and its products is also a disturbing factor. Only time will tell now, how Scotts integration into cannabis business will play out.