A neurologist by training, Dr. Malik Hasan, now in his 80s, never heard of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) — which he cites as “the largest system in the body” — when he went to medical school several decades ago. “But now, for the last fifteen years, I have heard nothing but [information about the] endocannabinoid system,” he laughs.

First identified in the 1990s, the ECS deals with numerous bodily processes, including pain and immune response, appetite, and mood. And, it turns out, cannabis can enhance the ECS’ functions within the body — which is precisely why the plant’s undergoing further exploration. (Note how the words “cannabis” and “endocannabinoid” are directly related. Furthermore, the term “cannabinoid” refers to active molecules within the plant, such as, for instance, THC, CBD, CBN, and CBG.)

Today, Hasan’s company NuVue Pharma is one of the contenders at the Colorado Manufacturing Awards. The other nominee, ECS Brands, takes its name directly from the abbreviation for the endocannabinoid system. ECS Brands CEO Arthur Jaffee says the company is looking at ways to utilize combinations of cannabinoids, derived from hemp plants, in order to “provide a therapeutic result that people are looking for.” One line of ECS Brands’ products uses names like “Renew,” “Create,” “Dream,” and “Trim.”

Whether working within the recreational/medicinal side of the cannabis industry or solely with non-psychoactive hemp varieties of the plant, Colorado companies are increasing practical knowledge — and providing jobs — as a direct result of their work related to cannabis.

ECS Brands (Broomfield)

CEO Arthur Jaffee says his company incorporates cannabinoids — extracted from hemp, and then further refined by the company — into products for “hundreds of brands.” According to the company’s web site, it uses “pure oil that features the complete plant profile of all the same cannabinoids present in the original hemp plant.”

Previously serving clients quietly in the background, it’s just starting to initiate additional marketing on its own brands: cannabinoid-containing softgels, water-soluble nano emulsions (which afford “8x the bioavailability,” according to the company’s web site), skin and hair-care products, and pet snacks, in addition to hemp protein powder.

“I think the future of the industry is going to really expand into the food and beverage category,” says Jaffee.

Anticipating that consumer preference, the company has filed patents on “different water-soluble technologies — both from an ingredient and mechanical-processing standpoint.” It also plans on releasing, in the near future, a “unique delivery device.” And recognizing the hemp plant’s useful protein contents, ECS Brands is extracting that resource from not just the seeds (which contain beneficial fatty acids), but also from the leaves and stalks. “We work to innovate on all levels,” says Jaffee.

NuVue Pharma (Pueblo)

NuVue runs recreational/medical dispensaries in Pueblo, Trinidad, and Colorado Springs, and it will soon have one established in New Mexico, as well. “At the end of the year, we’ll have eight stores,” says Dr. Malik Hasan. As part of its offerings, the chain sells the company’s in-house made concentrates, in addition to body relief lotions, and even an intimacy oil for women that it’s developed. “They work very well,” says Hasan of the products. “They are very popular.”

But Hasan didn’t set out simply to simply create a cannabis franchise chain. He wanted to cultivate “pharmaceutical grade” cannabis, in the event that the company’s application to cultivate the plant for federally-approved research purposes is approved by the DEA. Hasan hopes to be involved in that research as well.

Hasan is such a believer in the medicinal properties of cannabis, he put up his own money to help found the Institute of Cannabis Research at CSU-Pueblo. And he expect the research to continue long after he’s gone. “It’s easily a 50- to 100-year project,” Hasan says about developing a host of cannabis medicines for diseases like glaucoma, ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. “It will, in my estimate, create 4,000 to 5,000 drugs.”

CompanyWeek preview (March 2018): https://companyweek.com/article/nuvue-pharma

The winners of the 2022 Colorado Manufacturing Awards will be revealed on April 7 in Denver. The event is open to all Colorado business enthusiasts and stakeholders. REGISTER HERE for the 2022 CMA Winners Reveal & Gala.