Trill Alternatives: Where Cannabis Treatment Is About Cannabinoids, Not Just THC
Sometimes the 4/20 festivals, waves of cannabis-seeking tourists, and marijuana and food tastings can overshadow the roots of the marijuana movement in Colorado. Legalization began with medical marijuana, and in the beginning, dispensaries were only serving patients. When recreational stores came onto the scene, many stores shifted focus to serve their new adult clientele. This is not the case at Trill Alternatives, a medical dispensary in Boulder, which opened its doors six years ago and now has the largest selection of non-psychoactive marijuana products in any store in Colorado.
Trill’s founder, David Threlfall, got into the medical marijuana business to honor his late mother, who suffered from lung cancer. When she lost her appetite because of chemotherapy, Threlfall began doing research on marijuana. Though she never used cannabis to treat her ailments because of the stigma, Threlfall continued to study medical cannabis after her passing. He became passionate about how cannabis could help patients, and opened a dispensary in 2010 when the industry was young in Colorado. Now, the store has a crowd of regular patients who come into the store for product recommendations based on their cannabinoid content. “As people get older they don’t function as well, so our endocannabinoid system isn’t producing enough endogenous cannabinoids… for many reasons, such as an accident or imbalance. It’s just like a diabetic whose pancreas isn’t creating enough insulin, so they inject insulin into their system,” Threlfall said. “That’s what we are doing here, we are supplementing cannabinoids for people with autoimmune symptoms to bring up their immune systems. We do it with THC, CBD, and THCA.”
The reason for Trill’s loyal following is it’s dedicated staff. Knowledgeable, trained budtenders work directly with patients to find the right products. What makes Trill unique is their Wellness Consultation program. While almost any dispensary will tell you that their team’s customer service is top-notch, Trill’s method takes it to the next level. Each of their consultants work one-on-one with patients to target individual needs. The staff works with pain, cancer, autoimmune diseases, epilepsy, mood disorders, first time patients, and more. The consultants do research on which cannabinoids are best for each of their designated ailments, and are matched with patients who have those conditions. The goal is not to get their patients high, but to treat their illnesses based on research and feedback. Threlfall explained, “we meet once a week and go over it with patients and see what’s working and what’s not working. We are not doctors – we are just people with the common sense to start off slow and see how your body reacts.”
“We are not doctors – we are just people with the common sense to start off slow and see how your body reacts.”
The budtenders also highly vet products before selling them in their store. They personally ingest the products to make sure they are high quality with accurate dosages. In fact, they are all patients themselves and use cannabis medicinally. “We all medicate ourselves and use the products so we know what it is and we know the effects it has,” Threlfall told us. “I’ve taken too much THC on purpose to see what it’s like. That’s why we always start at the lowest level and work yourself up to a comfort level.” He added, “these patients don’t want the high, they want to function and be in control.”
Though Threlfall believes in the power of cannabis to heal, he and the budtenders at Trill always look to find the source of the patient’s ailment and see if that, rather than the symptoms, can be treated directly. For example, if back pain can be fixed through physical therapy or core exercises, and then the patient can wean off the marijuana they need to treat it. It’s rare to find a dispensary that will actually search for the correct answer, rather than just selling you more of their product, but that’s Trill’s mission.
In fact, Trill Alternatives will be opening their first recreational store in Denver later this summer, but the goals will still be to give greater access to the healing effects of cannabis. Threlfall said he is opening the store, which will serve both medical patients and adults, “because I see a lot of people on the rec side using cannabis for medicinal purposes and for whatever reason they just don’t want to get a card – maybe their job, or the stigma. I didn’t go recreational right away because our customers. These customers come in every week or month to get their medications from intelligent budtenders… I wasn’t going to throw these customers under the bus just to make more money.” In line with this mission, the recreational store will serve many of the same low-THC products that the medical store in Boulder does. The Denver store will open it’s medical center first, which will soft-launch this month and officially open in August. The recreational shop will open in the fall.