Larsens’ Green Stop ready to serve many purposes
Pot retail store/medical dispensary opening today in Log Lane
Only a short while ago, Summer and Zach Larsen mostly were unaware of Log Lane Village’s existence.
Now, they’re ready to build their family’s future on a new business in the town.
There’s just one catch: that business is selling both medical and recreational marijuana at two store fronts in the same structure as their convenience store and gas station.
The Green Stop will officially open at noon today. That name now ecompasses the gas station and convenience store on the south end of the building at 130 Maine St. and the medical marijuana dispensary and recreational retail store in other sections of the building.
This is the first to open of the up to six marijuana-related businesses that are allowed under the town’s marijuana ordinance. All six licenses have now been claimed, with the Larsens snagging one each for medical and recreational retail.
For the Larsens, it all began because of their son, Kingsley.
“We knew in utero that he was going to be born with issues,” Summer said. “He had his first seizure nine hours after birth. We tried medicines and diet, but we never found that seizure freedom.”
They were on the ninth epilepsy medicine for their son, when they started hearing about the success other children were seeing in treating epilepsy with cannabis oil.
“We were part of the green migration,” Summer said, referring to families who moved to Colorado for access to marijuana to give to their sick children. “Now we can’t leave state lines.”
She said they sought out doctors to discuss this option before testing it on their son.
“Our neurologist and a few other doctors we work with were open to it,” she said.
Other doctors, who were not open to cannabis as therapy, “told us we were at the end of the road and had no more options.”
So Summer and Zach decided to try the controversial cannabis oil therapy with Kingsley.
While it did not work 100 percent, the parents quickly saw marked differences in Kingsley, Summer said.
“He was proving everybody wrong within the first month of taking the CBD oil,” she said, referring to the specific blend of oil made from certain extracts of the cannabis plant that do not lead to the psychoactive high commonly associated with marijuana.
While the results were not perfect, they were enough to make believers out of the Larsens.
“His seizures were never completely controlled, and they’re still not, but it’s some better,” she said. “What we’re seeing now is worth it. To have him saying, ‘Mom’ after five years is worth it. I never thought he’d be able to talk. We were told he would pass away by age 1.”
The Larsens recently celebrated Kingsley’s 6th birthday with their son.
“He just graduated from the hospice,” Summer said, not even flinching at the absurdity of her young son having been in hospice care and now being able to move out of it.
She said that for the Larsens, the improvement in Kingsley’s quality of life that CBD oil has offered is worth it.
“It’s something that’s obviously making him enough better to give us what’s inside of him,” she said. “Once you see his little face, it all makes sense.”
In order to better facilitate having access to the medicine that Kingsley needs, but also to provide it to others in need, they decided to look into and then go into the medical marijuana business.
Log Lane offered what to them seemed like the perfect opportunity.
The Larsens are well aware that they are venturing into uncharted medical territory with their son as a guinea pig.
“There are no studies for this yet,” Summer said. “We don’t know what the future holds.”
They’re not alone in this, though.
“All of the families in this, we’re learning from each other,” she said. “It’s almost our one-year anniversary” with CBD oil therapy for Kingsley. “There are probably thousands of families here now getting cannabis treatment. It’s just a miracle to me.”
She said that while there are “a few different” options around the state for getting CBD oil, “you have to be careful.”
There are some places that offer CBD oil specifically for children, but even then it takes a lot of trial and error to get the right blend or concentration, she said.
“Marijuana is very complex,” Summer said. “Children just react differently,” so the families are figuring out what works best for their child and then making tinctures and oils to match the need. “This is such a growing side of the industry.”
She said that once studies start being done, maybe there will be more certainty as to why CBD oil helps and how to refine it more accurately.
“Right now, it’s just a guessing game, because we just don’t know,” she said. “If we can be one family to represent anyone that has a medical ailment, we’ll do that. What we’re getting from it is so worth it. I’m just so fascinated with it and so excited.”
The Larsens bought the gas station and convenience store in Log Lane more than a year ago. They also own a gas station in Yuma.
At first, it was just a business opportunity for family with sky-high medical bills.
Along the way, they began having conversations with Log Lane Mayor Ed Parker about a different type of business venture that could become available in the town: marijuana.
The Larsens already were considering going that direction with a business, but more likely closer to their Front Range home, not in Log Lane.
But their talks with Parker made them start leaning that way and looking into it as a real possibility.
“Let’s just build one out here,” Summer remembers them thinking.
Then, they found that the gas station and convenience store’s large building would offer the space they would need for medical dispensary and retail recreational marijuana establishments, as well as the related grow operations.
“It all started with that little gas station and convenience store,” Summer said.
They put in the work to renovate the building, making it fit their purposes and meet all the state and local laws regarding such establishments.
A couple weeks ago, Zach said that the renovations were “coming along,” but that they “never go as fast as you want it to.”
But the work is now complete, and The Green Stop is ready for its grand opening at noon today.
“We’ve come a long way,” Zach said, pointing out that both the medical dispensary and retail store will open.
“We’ll have numerous strains both on the recreational and medical sides,” he said.
In the dispensary, the Larsens plan to have The Green Stop “focus on strains that will be medicinally efficient for people” and “not just focus on making money.”
“It’s been crazy, just learning all the strains and how they work,” Summer said. “We’re just blessed to have a team of doctors standing behind us. You’d be really surprised how open and curious the doctors are.”
Zach said he liked the idea that local people would no longer have to drive to Denver or Greeley to get their medicine.
“A lot of people look down on it, but they don’t understand,” Zach said. “I think there’s more pros than cons.”
“I think our son is the proof in the pudding,” Summer added. “We have the OK from doctors, and we’ve seen it with our own eyes.”
The Larsens said they plan to offer “the whole gamut” of marijuana-related supplies in the dispensary and retail store: plants, edibles, accessories, plant clones for growing.
“We’re trying to be a one-stop shop for all that,” Zach said.
Summer said she would “love” for local folks with medical marijuana red cards “to come in and sign over their plant counts to us, and then have their plants grown here in Log Lane.”
She said she can “vouch for how much it’s changed my son medically,” so she can’t understand “why anyone can be against it.”
“We’re here to teach them,” Zach responded.
Lots to learn
They know it’s going to be a complicated path they’re going down, but the Larsens are ready for the journey.
“There’s so much to learn, but I think the whole state is learning,” Zach said.
He said they hired a certified public accountant to help them with the ever-changing financial aspects, and that they would have 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week security at The Green Stop.
“Certain co-ops have formed just for this industry,” Zach said. “It’s almost like a private banking system, until the rest of the country catches up.”
The Larsens said they are fully invested in their Log Lane businesses.
“It’s almost like a second town to us,” Zach said. “We’d like to see that town succeed. The roads need fixed and the the water tower needs paid off.”
In the meantime, the Larsens will get The Green Stop going, with managers Don and Lisa Pearson running it day to day, so they can function as the executives and parents to Kingsley.
Zach said they planned to add at least three part-time employees, and then more as business dictates.
“Hopefully, we can find the right people to grow our business,” Zach said. “We’re just ready to start helping people out. It’s been a year we’ve been talking about it. We’re ready to go.”
For more information, visit The Green Stop at 130 Maine St. in Log Lane Village, call 970-867-STOP (7768) or check out cogreenstop.com.