Grant Pharms, a family founded MMC located in Colorado Springs, has been providing comprehensive patient care in the medical marijuana industry since 2016. Their wealth of superior product knowledge and patient education on clean, quality, medical cannabis allows people to live better lives. Owner and founder Grant Wollert has combined his passion for patient care with the science behind growing cannabis to expand his operation in ways that will help not only Colorado Springs but the entire medical market.
Inspired by the lack of new strains not just in Colorado Springs but nationwide, Grant Pharms is excited to announce they are entering the world of cannabis breeding. In a market where few people are producing new “by the book” strains, Grant Wollert is looking to create something legal, new, and groundbreaking. The combined possibilities of selective breeding and advancement of patient care drive Wollert’s focus to cultivate unique powerful medicines. The production of new medical strains from Grant Pharms will benefit other MMCs that desire wider access to specialized cannabis products as well as patients seeking a way to better treat their medical issues.
Realizing Grant Pharms is not the only MMC available, Wollert believes more patients should have access to improved medical strains regardless of whether they buy from him or not. “I want you to find what you need,” Wollert stated recently in an interview about his expansion into breeding. “I want to try to make that available to everyone no matter where they are or whether they shop with us or not and, to that end, our breeding is going to have purpose. We will be breeding for traits, effects, smells, tastes etc. to specifically benefit the medical community.”
Currently Grant Pharms is no different than any other MMC dealing with a lack of new medical strains available in the community, resulting in limited patient treatment and a struggle to offer unique product variety. Increased regulations over the years now require MMCs to receive all their strains from either another medical center or OPC that specifically grows registered medical products. One reason Wollert sees the limited availability of new strains from OPCs and breeders is concern surrounding crop quality. The majority of grow operations are producing sinsemilla crops, or seedless crops, to preserve value and lower the risk of cross-pollination.
Breeding can be a perilous venture when you run the risk of losing your cannabinoid production, and therefore medicinal quality, of your entire selection through one incident of crop pollination. While Wollert believes this is the reason most growers tend to avoid breeding as they focus on the creation of high quality medicine, the result is a lack of new strains with the continued production of seedless plants.
This strain shortage and lack of new breeding ventures has led to industry complications and frustration for patients. To be unique in the medical cannabis market is problematic as multiple MMCs are providing the same strains, especially with the proliferation of availability in states like Colorado. To truly offer something exclusive to patients, the best option is to breed per the law.
One serious consequence of MMCs striving for individuality in the current market where many shops offer the same strains has become the mis-labeling of genetics. This attempt to stand out against competition ultimately harms the patients. An attempt to purchase a specific strain that has been wrongly identified means the effects, while similar, will not be the same and can greatly impact management of the medical condition the patient is trying to treat. The struggle to offer a wider variety of products leads to individuals knowingly or unknowingly mislabeling strains just to generate diversity in the market.
Wollert’s vision is to alleviate patient frustration, mislabeling of genetic strains, and lack of new products by creating medicines patients can benefit from and stores will be excited to carry. “As a breeder, growing the same 20-25 strains is great, it’s fun to have variety like that,” Wollert says, “but it’s really exciting to put down something new and see what comes of it. I think of a phenotype hunt where you put down at least 10-20 seeds and sift through to see which ones have the traits you desire. The excitement is like going on a treasure hunt or winning the lottery.” Wollert’s goal in such an extensive endeavor is to find something of value and cultivate traits patients are going to find useful. It can be an exciting and challenging time for breeders to enhance these traits as they specifically target a flavor profile or an effect. Ultimately that is where Wollert’s interest stems from – he is aware that while breeding can deteriorate the quality of an entire crop through one small accident, if successful the payoff for both MMCs and patients can be revolutionary.
Grant Pharms’ ultimate goal for breeding is to create new strains that will target specific or chronic medical conditions. One example is the loss of bone density through osteoarthritis. Grant Pharms will be focusing on the creation of a strain with cannabinoids that can specifically influence or spur on bone growth. With their focus on improved quality of life for patients, there are countless target cannabinoids that can be highlighted. Other examples are strains that can better manage cancer, nausea or chronic pain.
Aside from the specific physical effects Wollert is hoping to treat, he is also passionate about products that taste good. Selective breeding has already influenced a multitude of unique taste and aromatic product profiles as cannabis is one of the most terpene rich, diverse plants, but Grant believes he can go even further.
The final goal and focus for Grant Pharms in breeding are the effects and quality improvement of certain strains that have lost their luster over the years. Wollert is hopeful he will be able to invigorate specific traits that are already so appreciated in certain strains such as Sour Diesel or White Widow. “I see an opportunity there to be nostalgic and create something new,” Wollert says of this revitalization effort.
With these specific achievements in mind and breeding already underway, Grant Pharms is preparing new strains to come up in the community for purchase. They have developed crosses of one exceptional male Taffie plant that produced traits Wollert hopes to continue to work with. Soon to be on the shelves of Grant Pharms is a cross of this Taffie strain and DJ Short Blueberry, while others they are cultivating include GG, (formerly known as Gorilla Glue) and Taffie, as well as Kimbo Kush and Sour Chem Scout both also crossed with Taffie.
These are all first-generation plants that show so much promise Grant is going to continue selectively breeding them to hone desired dominant traits whether flavor, physical effect, plant structure, or resistance to bugs and mold. The varied genetic input Grant Pharms already has available in their established 25 or so strains offers a wide realm of selective breeding possibilities.
As their new strains become available to the community, Wollert hopes to educate patients on the realistic timeline and long-term investment that goes into breeding. While everyone at Grant Pharms is thrilled with the beginning of this operation, and there are steady plans to continue, the creation of a completely new strain can take several years and is a lengthy endeavor. Wollert hopes to give insight to patients into the 3-4 months it takes to grow a plant and then 2 or 3 plant life cycles, potentially years, necessary to produce an original strain. The soon to be released Blueberry and Taffie cross is a fitting example for the community on realistic breeding timelines. Grant Pharms will continue to refine this cross for another 2-3 rounds of breeding as specific traits are enhanced and only after that will it result in an original strain as opposed to a mix of the parents.
This timeline can be discouraging to some because of the years required as an investment, however Wollert sees it as a necessity in the industry as MMCs are currently limiting patients with decreased availability of product. The reality is some MMCs are bringing in illegally purchased seeds from non-registered growers. Aside from the illegality in creating new products this way, it can be frustrating and dangerous for patients as they are looking in on either a limited market or purchasing illegally created products to try and manage their medical issues. Their venture into breeding will allow Grant Pharms to positively impact the market by providing a safer and legal substitute to patients and MMCs.
Throughout their expansion, Grant Pharms will continue to prioritize patient care first. They are truly taking the long view about the investment required by this journey. It takes years to develop a groundbreaking new strain and to create something exceptional. With several rounds of breeding already underway, they hope in the next year to have strains available that are innovative enough to move away from the current overdone strains, while being medically relevant enough to change patients’ lives. Ultimately, Wollert says, “Without patients no medical marijuana center is doing anything, so we need to be taking care of these people. It’s all about the patients.”