DENVER, C.O. (WIVB)- In the heart of downtown Denver, you’ll find TGS corporate headquarters. The company has the top three floors of a high-rise on 17th street.
It looks like your typical high-end business and in some ways, it is. The founders wear suits and discuss ideas in fancy board rooms. But these entrepreneurs aren’t in finance or real estate; they’re in pot, or cannabis, as they prefer to say.
TGS stands for The Green Solution. It’s the brain child of four brothers; developers, looking for a new venture after the housing bubble in 2008.
“As you start something like this, you never really believe that it’s ever going to reach a height at the peak in which we are today,” said Co-CEO Eric Speidell.
“I really feel like we’re actually probably only half way up the mountain,” he said of the growing company.
That mountain is already pretty big.
TGS is one of the largest recreational, or adult-use cannabis companies in all of Colorado. It has more than a dozen dispensary locations and some of the largest indoor facilities in the country.
But there’s something important they don’t have yet: a stronghold on the medical market.
For that, they’re calling upon Buffalo doctor, Laszlo Mechtler.
“I think a medical perspective is important. And that’s what has been lacking in the medical community and the basic community of growing marijuana is that institute or a physician input,” said Dr. Mechtler while touring a TGS grow facility with News 4’s Jenn Schanz.
Mechtler runs the Dent Cannabis Clinic in Amherst, N.Y.
Executives at TGS are teaming up with him to get that medical input, and develop a new product line.
It’s called MEND (Medicinal Excellence for Neurologic Disorders). It will be a brand name for medical cannabis, specifically for patients suffering from pain due to their unique disorder.
The hope, is that MEND will offer patients dealing with pain from fibromyalgia, migraines, or neuropathy a trusted name for relief.
Dr. Mechtler said to think of it as the Tylenol or Aleve for cannabis.
“The unique merging of these companies, where you’ve got New York state, which has very limited conditions, very limited supply. But we can go to Colorado where frankly the recreational market has somewhat overshadowed the medical market,” Charles Gee told us.
Gee is Dr. Mechtler’s business partner and operational manager for the MEND project.
For patients in New York, bare bones dispensary shelves have been a battle since the Compassionate Care Act first rolled out.
That’s not the case in Denver; from hard candies to truffles, hand creams to fizzy drinks, there’s dozens of different ways to use marijuana and even more types of it.
But for strictly medical users, there’s a major setback.
“I see the results as a physician. But to have the politicians and the public accept marijuana as a medical treatment plan, we need science,” Dr. Mechtler said.
“That’s why MEND was formed.”
He and his team are still working to find out the best ways for patients to use medical marijuana for specific symptoms.
Whether their first round of MEND products will be vaporizers, capsules, or edibles is still up in the air.
Marijuana is still federally illegal. It’s on the DEA’s Schedule 1 list for drugs, alongside heroin and LSD.
That red tape, Dr. Mechtler said, makes it nearly impossible to get government funding to study. It’s also one of the reasons he traveled to Colorado, in hopes that conducting research might be a little easier with a larger patient pool and more products.
“At the end of the day yes we stick our necks out,” Mechtler said.
“I have no problems treating my patients with something that I was unable to give them for 30 years and seeing a lot of my patients suffer, either from cancer or neurological disorders. After a while a physician gets tired of seeing their patients suffer.”
Mechtler has explored doing research in Canada, or on Native American sovereign land. He’s been approached by a nation in California whose population is facing a serious opiate abuse problem. It’s something he feels strongly medical marijuana will combat.
We asked Dr. Mechtler why, after years of positive feedback from the medical community, the red tape around medical marijuana still exists.
“Part of it is a lack of science, lack of research. These are studies that are retrospective, so that’s one issue. I would have to say there’s an interest in a certain population or business companies that deal with opiates, pharmaceuticals for example,” he said.
Part Two of this special report looks at recent data and explores medical marijuana’s impact on opiate prescriptions.