Grow shops have popped up all over Santiago, like budding flowers in a meadow in spring. They are everywhere you turn. In Providencia, Recoleta, Ñuñoa, Maipú, Santiago Centro and Las Condes, even up and down the country. Simply everywhere.
The Hemp Company. Photo by Allison Stickley
It's impossible to talk about a grow shop and not talk about pot. The conversation automatically turns to cannabis.
The reason they can exist legally is that they sell everything you would need to have a vegetable garden in your house or your apartment balcony. Plus, they sell different kinds of cannabis seeds considered “Collector’s Items.”
Seeds are sold as Collector's Items. Photo by Allison Stickley
Legally they can’t tell you or recommend that you cultivate your own pot plants. Chilean law does not allow home growing. It’s illegal. But they can’t stop grow shops from selling everything you need to grow your own.
Feña from The Hemp Company says: “It’s silly really. I can’t recommend that you grow pot. I can’t tell you to grow your own. But I can sell you all you need to cultivate the plant: soil, fertilizer, lamps, etc. Plus a packet of seeds labeled ‘Do not plant’.”
But more than sell their products so people can buy all the necessary paraphernalia to grow their own and smoke to get high, most shop owners are all about the benefits the marihuana plant has to offer, specifically medically. Natalya, a partner at Distrito Verde, stated: “Grow shops should especially boost that aspect of the plant.”
Feña added: “More and more people, of all ages, are accepting that there is good in this plant.” For example, during my interview, a man of about 70 walked in asking about cannabis oil for his wife who suffers from joint pain.
Photo by Allison Stickley
Another customer that walked in commented that "there is a growing culture of recognizing its medical benefits, replacing western medicine." He compared it to drinking a cup of what is known in Chile as 'aguita de perra.' Which is basically a cup of hot water with a known plant that will help you with something like stomach aches.
Fundación Daya, a non-profit organization, is taking that idea a step further. It is dedicated to designing and developing projects for the medical use of cannabis and its derivatives. Ana María Gazmuri, the organization's director, believes that "it is important to speak about the medicinal use of cannabis, where so many people have already benefited."
During the last few years the organization has bought plots of land in different parts of the country to cultivate cannabis plants, which will then be used to produce cannabis-based products for medicinal purposes to help patients suffering from cancer, certain types of epilepsy and chronic pain, for example.
BeGreen Grow. Photo by Allison Stickley
Giuseppe from BeGreen was very adamant in saying that his grow shop “is more about sharing and educating, a place to come in and learn more about the plant and its many benefits.” He also commented that what was once a taboo, cannabis has become more socially accepted to the point where it’s becoming a fad.
Maybe this explains all the grow shops that are popping up all over town.
Although among shop owners there is a very open and friendly environment towards all, it seems to be a male-driven enterprise. Natalya from Distrito Verde is trying to change that by “giving women a little push,” and getting more women involved by teaching them how to home grow.
Natalya says she wants to “inspire women to home grow with the same enthusiasm that men do it. So they gain experience, from the most basic steps to the more complicated things.” She points out that historically, "women in this world have not been shown as cultivators, but as tools for its publicity. And that gets old.”
Distrito Verde Growshop
All the shop owners interviewed coincide on a couple of things: that one of the most valuable aspects of these shops is that everybody is sharing information and learning from one another. "People are curious. They want information about cannabis to form their own opinion and maybe end up cultivating their own plants," says Guiseppe.
The second thing they all point out is that pot will eventually be declassified as a narcotic and growing at home will become legal. The government has already taken a big step towards this by discussing changes in legislation. The fact that it is talking about it at all is a hopeful sign, they agree.
So drop by your local grow shop and see what they have on offer. Don't be shy and ask a million questions about how to get started- you never know, you may just become part of this increasingly growing movement.
A survivor´s guide to Grow Shops in Chile
Manuel Montt 037
Club Hípico 453
José Miguel de la Barra 454
Luis Durand 4205
Antonia López de Bello 566
Ricardo Lyon 3570, local 5
Apoquindo 5681, local 80
Cristóbal Colón 5837
Embajador Dousnague 1767, Shopping Los Cobres, local D11
Concha y Toro 2045
La Florida 9173, local 6
Rasta Grow Shop
Vivar 720, Mall Ganesha, local 206
Post 420 Huertos Urbanos
Manuel Baquedano 725
Alter Nativo Grow Shop
Aldunate 971, local 04
Psicoactivo La Serena
Balmaceda 480, Galería Caracol Colonial, local 45B
Psicoactivo Casa Matríz
Valparaíso 617, Galería Carrusel, local 50
Calle Viana 736
La Abeja Amaya Growshop
Blanco Encalada 1156
Vida Verde Growshop Aconcaweed
Edificio Prat 740, local 26
AndeSeeds Grow Shop
Esmeralda 321, local 1
Grow Shop Linares
Brasil 479, Galería Portal Estación, local 34
Pájaro Verde Chillán
5 de Abril 593, Galería Pueblito Ñuble, local 20
Mota Grow Orompello
San Pedro de la Paz 555, local 2
Grow Agua Luna
Antonio Varas 860, local 6