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Home robot grows cannabis… or other herbs

Home robot grows cannabis… or other herbs

You could grow flowers or salad greens in a Seedo machine. In fact, automated lettuce-growing is where the inventors got their start and honed their expertise.

However, if you’re going to plunk down $2,400 to put an automatic hydroponic growing box in your living room, you will probably choose a crop not easily or cheaply raised in your garden. Like cannabis.

That’s why you have to affirm you’re at least 21 to enter the website.

“Seedo creates the correct climate conditions to grow anything you want. But it seems more cost-effective to grow cannabis than lettuce, and we see that is what our customers want,” says Uri Zeevi, cofounder and chief marketing officer of the Israeli company in Yokneam. “We know this because they’re looking for [cannabis] seeds, which we don’t sell.”

What Seedo does sell is a 55-pound (25kg) unit measuring 40 by 24.4 by 24.4 inches (101 x 62 x 62cm), which comes with water and air filters, a growing mat and a set of cartridges to control nutrients, pH balance and carbon dioxide. The unit features a patent-pending self-adjusting lighting system.

You don’t have to be a farmer to make it work. Seedo is fully automatic and controlled by a smartphone app. If you want to raise more than one plant at a time, you’ll only need to do a little pruning by hand. The unit is hermetically sealed except when unlocked via the app, keeping odors in and pests out.

The growing conditions inside Seedo are monitored and controlled via a smartphone app. Photo: courtesy

“Seedo is an algorithm-oriented robot that takes care of the whole process from seeds to buds aside from harvesting at the end,” Zeevi tells ISRAEL21c. Each round of growth takes about 90 days.

Seedo’s inventors created their first prototype in 2014 and the sixth in 2017. This model started being mass manufactured and shipped worldwide in early September – first to the few thousand early adopters who preordered it at a discount. Early next year the 26-employee company will accept new orders.

Most of the pre-orders came from US customers, says Zeevi.

“We also have high demand in Argentina because they’re very into high-quality cannabis.” Argentina provides medical marijuana for free to citizens and has decriminalized recreational possession.

Cannabis is becoming legal for medical and even recreational use in more and more places across the Americas and Europe. This month, Canada will be the second nation — Uruguay was the first — to legalize cannabis for recreational use for adults; medical use is already legal in Canada.

In the United States, 30 states have overridden the federal ban on medical cannabis and nine states (plus Washington, DC) have decriminalized its recreational use for people 21 and up.

Seedo is negotiating with American rappers who may want to invest in the company and promote it in video clips that reflect “lifestyle” cannabis consumption. Zeevi emphasizes that the device is legal to sell and buy — it’s up to the consumer what to grow inside it.

In terms of medical cannabis, Zeevi says the advantage of Seedo is consistency.

“When you buy Advil each batch of pills is always the same, but that is not the case with cannabis. Seedo can create the same conditions for every growth cycle so the results will be very similar.”

Seedo is the first Israeli company to market with an automatic, app-controlled home growing machine but it will soon have competition from Leaf, a similar “plug-n-plant” system ISRAEL21c featured in November 2016 that’s expected to start shipping by the end of 2018. Leaf is headquartered in Colorado with R&D in Tel Aviv.

Zeevi says he’s not concerned about competition from Israel or overseas. “The market is huge so there is always a place for more,” he says.

In September, Seedo entered into a merger with US-based GRCR Partners using funds provided by Cannabics Pharmaceuticals of Israel and Maryland. Cannabics eventually will receive 13.6% of the merged company.

“Our involvement with Seedo is continuing to grow. We are glad to see the optimistic responses we are receiving from both potential partners as well as the media to what we believe will revolutionize personalized medical marijuana,” said Eyal Barad, CEO of Cannabics Pharmaceuticals.

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