FATE CARRIES US TO DESTINATIONS WE NEVER IMAGINED—SUCH AS MAINTAINING AN ENORMOUS INDOOR MEDICAL GARDEN OF POT PLANTS UNDER THE BROILING SUN.
What’s that old saying? Oh, yeah: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. The same can be said for a growroom, especially if it’s located in Palm Springs, CA, where the temperature reaches triple digits for 100-plus days of the year. And if your growroom serves over 4,000 patients in this region, heat is more than a frequent concern—it’s an omnipresent threat. Stacy Hochanadel knows all about heat. He’s the owner/director of the Cannahelp Collective in Palm Springs, the leading medical-marijuana dispensary in the Coachella Valley region. Cannahelp houses a massive growroom of 10,000 square feet Amnesia Haze. Keeping a warehouse of 01. plants cool in this furnace-like climate means that the topic of heat is never far from Stacy’s thoughts.
His journey to this desert mega-garden was an arduous one Stacy’s a Palm Springs native with mots going back four generations. In 1995, he was 17 years old and nearing graduation—a 285-pound star lineman in football with a full scholarship to the University of Colorado. But life doesn’t always correspond to our dreams.
While visiting Lake Havasu in Arizona, he was infected by a parasite that brought him to the brink of death. After a year and a half at the UCLA Medical Center, he was discharged and forced to start life all over again. His large intestine had been removed, his magnificent body had been wrecked, and he now had a drug problem that was slowly killing him. He’d been living in nearby Laguna Beach while receiving treatment. Now on his own, Stacy says his life was reduced to a cave-like existence: “Windows closed, TV always on, and me, living my life as a slave to the cycles of my pain and my medication.”
Medical experts agree that stomach pain is the most debilitating. “It pulls your ,center down and attacks the central. nervous system,” Stacy explains.
The heavy regimen of pharmaceuticals was slowly killing him. A good friend, a pharmacist’s aide, advised him of exactly that. The year was 1996, and Stacy’s friend suggested pot instead. Ready to try anything, Stacy bought his first eighth and a Graffix bong. Life immediately changed.
“!t was miraculous,” he recalls. “It eased my pain considerably. You have to understand: never smoked pot in my life. I’d been a tough football player, and I wouldn’t take anything.” The next day, Stacy visited a hydroponics store and joined the state’s army of medical growers. A few weeks later, California passed Proposition 215, making medical marijuana legal statewide. For the next 10 years, Stacy was able to provide medicine for himself. But in 2005, now married with children and living in Palm Springs, he decided to stop growing and acquire his medicine through dispensaries. Unfortunately, the closest facility was