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Gardening Start-Up in China Chances Upon U.S. Marijuana Market

In China, concerns about food safety are so serious that residents at times take to the green spaces between tenements to plant gardens. Others farm on windowsills and balconies, or use specialized e-commerce services to track down safe vegetables and meats.

These habits led Lennon Tsai to start a company that supplies all the hydroponics equipment necessary for a would-be urban farmer to get started on an indoor garden. While trying to sell equipment to a new Chinese middle class concerned about the rampant contamination of China’s soil and water, Mr. Tsai by chance came upon a secondary market in America.

“One of my U.S. customers bought my product and grew marijuana at his home and sent me the photo. I was really stunned; I was surprised our product could be used to grow marijuana,” Mr. Tsai said in a recent interview. “Only later did I realize it’s a big market.”...

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