Lightshade Marijuana Dispensary Denver Colorado, Dayton & Alameda

Leaf411 Supporter Spotlight: Lisa Gee, Director of Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility, Lightshade

Do you “vote with your dollars?”

In other words, when it comes to cannabis, do you try to support companies that not only create great products but also give back to the community?

Many people come to cannabis seeking an alternative to medicine-as-usual, which depends heavily on pharmaceuticals. In the same way, many cannabis businesses are creating an alternative to business-as-usual by truly embracing socially responsible and sustainable business practices. We believe that Lightshade is one of those businesses.

As part of the education that we provide at Leaf411, we love sharing our supporting member stories, believing that our members represent the best in the industry.

When we share these stories, we help change the outdated misconceptions around cannabis.

As a consumer, you can also help change the story, by supporting cannabis businesses that are committed to sustainability and social responsibility. First, though, it helps to see what a socially responsible, sustainable cannabis business looks like in practice.

Lightshade’s Director of Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility, Lisa Gee

Leaf411 Founding Member Lightshade Dispensary

Our founding member Lightshade is a great example of how a successful business integrates social responsibility, community engagement, and sustainability into their core business model.

Lightshade is a natural partner for Leaf411, given our shared priority to improve awareness and education around safe use of legal cannabis.

We recently sat down with Lightshade’s Director of Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility, Lisa Gee, to learn more about the dispensary’s work in the community and their commitment to customers.

Q: Lightshade is known for its dedication to corporate social responsibility (or as we like to call it, “cannabis social responsibility”) and supporting the community. What does that look like?

There are struggles when you go into a new neighborhood. You have to create these relationships with your community where they can see the cannabis doing good. They don’t want to think of you as just an outlet for drugs. We take it really seriously that we demonstrate dedication to the neighborhoods that we’re in. We do this through the corporate social responsibility programs that we either fund directly and/or volunteer with. It’s part of Lightshade’s ethos, and is built into everything that we do.

We also take it very seriously that our vendors volunteer with us. I know there are vendor relationships we’ve had where the vendor didn’t have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign or any community relationships. And as a result of volunteering alongside us, they’ve been inspired to take on their own volunteer activities. 

Q: It sounds like you really strive to be an industry leader when it comes to CSR. Why is that important to you?

We try very hard to mentor and demonstrate all the good stuff that cannabis does, and what a company like ours can accomplish when you get your staff involved and you get your vendors involved. At the same time, it’s a challenge for us because there’s no way for us to tell the full story. Our customers a lot of times don’t really know  everything we do. That’s challenging. We’d like them to know more about some of the work that we in the community.

Another goal for us is to be a thought leader demonstrating our dedication to community by bringing more people into it, whether that’s customers, vendors, or employees. It’s about showing what can happen when you come together as a group with very different people and the kinds of impacts that you can make to your community.

Lightshade Dispensary Volunteering with Denver Urban Gardens
Lightshade Dispensary Volunteering with Denver Urban Gardens at Delaney Farms

Q: Can you share an example of how you pull together all these different groups—employees, vendors and customers?

During our Denver Urban Gardens activity, it can be 100 degrees outside. We’re out there with shovels, picks, and dirt, sweating on a workday alongside our vendor volunteers, doing six hours of work and then going back to the office. That’s definitely one of the activations that we’ve had, with people calling afterward and saying they’re going to do their own event, or that they’ve adopted a park. They’ll even ask, “Do you want to help us?” This happened with Wana Brands. We’re looking to partner with them on more events. Their values align with ours in so many ways.

Q: You’ve created a unique corporate culture in this space, because you are paying attention to all those little things and they truly matter to you to do your part to make a difference.

I’ll share a story with you. A production company contacted Kelly and Courtney at kindColorado. The production company is profiling Denver and wanted to talk about two things, homelessness and cannabis. And they randomly found Kelly and Courtney on the interwebs and reached out to them and asked, “What can you tell us about cannabis and the homeless problem it’s creating?”

Kelly and Courtney said, “First of all, we need to tell you a little bit about how your assumption is wrong. Homelessness was not caused by adult recreational use legalization in Colorado. There’s a lot of other correlations with what’s happened here. But there’s some other stories you might want to tell.”

Out of the conversation came the fact that there are cannabis companies and dispensaries who are focused on homelessness. It’s one of our pillars at Lightshade. Kelly and Courtney suggested that the production company talk to us.

As a result of our conversations, their Denver episode will focus on Aurora Warms the Night, which is one of the big homeless programs we support, and Lightshade—how we are out there on the streets volunteering with the program.

The majority of  Aurora Warms the Night’s funding comes from that marijuana tax fund for homelessness in Aurora, CO (Aurora is located in the Denver metro area).

But the best thing about Aurora Warms the Night is that when you’re there helping, you’re serving the food and pouring the drinks for the people. Then you get yourself a plate and sit down with the people you’ve served. The program’s goal is to humanize the homeless, because it’s so easy for us to walk past homeless people and not see our common humanity with them. And we all do it, even if we hate ourselves for it. So it’s just a way of being like, “You are here. Connect with these people.” And I know I did. The first day that I was out there with Aurora Warms the Night, I sat in my car and cried afterward. The people I met were fantastic but also so vulnerable. They’ve been left behind or they started in a homeless and vulnerable family. And so that’s the kind of impact that we get to tell the story about.

Lightshade Dispensary Volunteering with Aurora Warms the Night
Lightshade Dispensary Volunteering with Aurora Warms the Night

Q: Your slogan is: “The Lightshade difference is night and day.” We can definitely see that in terms of the CSR work you do. But what does it mean for consumers?

Our slogan is a play on words. First of all, Lightshade—the name of the company—comes from the need for a cannabis plant to have equal parts of sun and shade. Also, our loyalty program is called the Night and Day Club.

Our slogan is a way for us to differentiate ourselves. It is aligned a lot with CSR. It’s also about the consumer experience, about how the retail environment looks and feels.

Q: Can you describe your retail environment?

We’re really trying to help elevate the cannabis industry just by the look and feel of the retail environment.  We use a lot of reclaimed barn wood. We have natural finishes and stained concrete with rich colors. The furniture is meant to feel more like you’re in someone’s living room, a very comfortable and elegant living room.

Our Dayton store has a fireplace in the waiting area. It’s located right next to a retirement community. We get a lot of older people who shop at our Dayton dispensary, which is a very comfortable, warm and welcoming space. When people walk in, they’re comfortable and they don’t feel nervous.

We also take the training of our bartenders and our front desk staff very seriously. We do something outside the norm. Rather than use an off-the-shelf program for training, we developed our own training program and have our own training director. Our program covers product knowledge and compliance issues.

There are so many things that bartenders and front desk staff need to know. They have to have answers for everything, especially, “I’m not a doctor.” That’s where Leaf411 comes into the picture.

Lightshade Marijuana Dispensary Denver Colorado, Dayton & Alameda

Q: How does your partnership with Leaf411 help your budtenders and customers?

The partnership has created opportunities for us that we didn’t have before, because one of the keys to being a successful cannabis retailer is education. Because of the limits in our industry, there’s a lot we just cannot do.

That face-to-face relationship between the budtender and the consumer or patient is the one shot we have at providing education that they need to have. We’re not able to tell them certain things because it doesn’t fall within the legal scope. However, being able to give them a business card or the pamphlet to Leaf411 provides the opportunity to open the floodgates of education. We weren’t able to provide that before. I’ve seen it at stores, and I’ve heard it from budtenders.  

For example, we had two customers at the Dayton store the other day who had chronic pain and sleep problems. I explained to them what the budtender could tell them. We can say something like, “This is my favorite thing.” But we can’t say why. Being able to refer customers to Leaf411 is a perfect solution. It’s really important for us to be able to share a verifiable, trusted resource.

Q: As Leaf411 continues to expand, we’re getting more inquiries from dispensaries in both Colorado and other states. From the dispensary perspective, what would you tell them about partnering with Leaf411?

When we heard what you were doing, we were down. We were all in just with the idea.

Dispensaries need to have access to nurses or doctors as credible resources to refer their patients and consumers to. If you allow your budtenders to give medical advice, you’re going to be shut down in a month, maybe less. And if you don’t operate in the complete black and white area of compliance and regulatory environment, you’re not going to last long.

The only tool we have is Leaf411, outside of doctors. And sending customers to doctors is cost-prohibitive in many cases.

From a business perspective, partnering with Leaf411 is all about customer care, service and being there for your  community. You will build customer loyalty with this kind of service. You will have stories like ours, with people who have never walked into a dispensary before and receiving the support they need. They were absolutely thrilled and amazed at what came of that experience and probably changed their lives. Our partnership with the Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline is invaluable. You know, we just couldn’t be more thrilled.

Someone told me this a number of years ago and it really stuck with me. I don’t remember jokes or poetry, but I have never forgotten this. And it’s that with nurses, you can find someone who is as curious about what’s going on with you as you are.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

For More Information

Lightshade has eight recreational dispensaries in the Denver metro area, with five of those dispensaries also serving med patients. You can learn more about Lightshade’s community partnerships here.

Leaf411 is proud to have Lightshade as one of our founding members. Lightshade is committed to elevating cannabis’s reputation by providing high-quality product, experiences and information. Their ethos align with Leaf411’s commitment to kindness and professionalism.

Additional Resources

Check out our recent post, “Planning Your First Dispensary Visit,” if you’d like additional tips before heading out the door to Lightshade or any other legal dispensary.

Whether you’re a patient or a budtender, our cannabis-trained nurses are available to answer your questions on our FREE anonymous hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411).The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline provides free, anonymous education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.


Leaf411 Supporter Spotlight: Dr. David Gordon, MD, 4Pillars Health & Wellness

An integrative medicine perspective on why patients turn to cannabis, the biggest medical cannabis myths, and how to talk to your doctor about cannabis as a treatment option

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline partners with healthcare providers and cannabis industry members to expand our education outreach and increase awareness around the safe use of legal cannabis. We’re proud to periodically spotlight our supporters here.

David Gordon, MD, founder of 4Pillars Health & Wellness, was an early supporter of Leaf411, and serves as one of our Advisory Board members. Dr. Gordon, better known as “Dr. Dave,” is the creator of the 4×4 Lifestyle Plan, offering patients an alternative to conventional medical treatment. His approach addresses food, movement, relaxation, and community to help patients transform their lives.

At Leaf411, we take our ethos (kindness, professionalism and caller loyalty) very seriously. Dr. Dave fits in with our organization so perfectly, from his devotion to his profession to his loyalty to his patients. We are honored to have Dave be a member of our Advisory Board and give him this spotlight. 

Leaf 411 COO Jennifer Axcell recently sat down with Dr. Dave learn more about what brings patients to cannabis, the questions and misconceptions he hears most often, and what he wishes other providers knew when it comes to advising patients on how to use cannabis.

Q: When do people typically come to you? How many other treatment options have they tried beforehand?

People have definitely already tried a lot of other options. This is true not only with cannabis, but also with an integrative approach in general.

In the cannabis space specifically, far and away chronic pain is the most common thing that we see. These are people who are still in pain despite them getting opioids or other medications. They’re still in pain despite going to physical therapy. They’re still in pain despite having surgeries and injections. They’re still suffering.

They’re definitely also tired of the risk and side effects of some of the other therapies when it comes to chronic pain. Certainly opioids—we hear about that a lot. But the risks and side effects of less toxic pain medications are underappreciated, whether it’s the ibuprofen class of meds or even Tylenol for that matter.

The biggest thing for people with chronic pain is that they’re not getting better. They’re not trying to avoid medicine. They’re really just trying to get relief that they haven’t had with other things.

If opioids were allowing people with chronic pain to feel great and be pain-free with high quality of life, these people wouldn’t be searching out cannabis.

We also see patients for lot of other conditions that standard medicines don’t treat well, be it sleep, mood disorders, or psychological symptoms. These are things that our current meds don’t do a very good job with.

Q: Is there a certain type of person who’s more likely to come to you? Is it the senior group, because they have more chronic conditions? Younger people who might be more open to cannabis? Or does it run the gamut?

The people who come to me really run the gamut, but they fall into a few categories.

A lot of people have figured out through experience that cannabis works better for them than other things. They’ve done the research and they know it’s safe. This is the average healthy person who has pain from sports injuries. It’s also the waiter or waitress or auto mechanic who comes home exhausted with pain and stiffness from work. They just want something to help their pain, help them relax and get to sleep easier. They don’t want to take a bunch of ibuprofen and Benadryl to go to sleep. They find that with a little bit of cannabis, they can relax, their pain is gone, and they fall asleep easily. This population just uses a small amount of cannabis in the evening. They know it’s more effective and safer than a lot of alternatives.

There’s also a big group of patients who have been dealing with various issues for years, and who are just sick of all the side effects and drug interactions. They want safer options. They might have been told they can’t take a variety of medications, or they’ve had side effects. These patients are looking for something they haven’t tried before because they have low quality of life. This is typically the senior population.

There’s a third patient group, the chronic pain population. The chronic pain may be related to an injury from a car accident or disc injury, or it could be non-injury related. Some patients have central pain issues like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pelvic pain, these kind of nebulous pain syndromes. That’s where you get the patient who says, “I haven’t had a good day in 25 years no matter how many meds I’ve taken.”

Q: What are the top three questions about cannabis that you get from patients?

These days, one of the top patient questions is about the different chemicals in cannabis, specifically THC and CBD. What is CBD? What is THC? What’s the difference?

Another common question is how best to administer cannabis, whether you’re talking about inhaling or eating or topical. People always want to know what’s the best.

Also, for patients who are new to cannabis, their questions involve safety, side effects, and interactions with other medications.

Q: What are some of the biggest misconceptions you hear from people, when it comes to using cannabis for health purposes?

New users often assume that using cannabis means that they’re going to be so high that they can’t function. That’s far and away the biggest misconception. I might explain to them that we’re going to use certain cannabis compounds that don’t cause any intoxication. Even if we’re using THC, the one compound that can cause intoxication, we might be starting it at a dose that they’ll barely notice or not notice it at all.

Also, a lot of the cannabis propaganda that people have heard over time is just wrong. The perfect example is when someone asks, “Is cannabis going to cause me to lose my brain cells?” Or they are worried it will cause early-onset Alzheimer’s. No, actually, the science shows that cannabis is probably going to protect your brain. We know that both the cannabis THC and CBD compounds protect brain cells. And there’s good evidence suggesting that they may reduce the risk of dementia.

Another misconception I hear is that cannabis is super-addictive. People just assume it’s a highly dangerous, addictive drug like heroin or cocaine, based on the propaganda they’ve heard. I share the actual information that’s out there in the research showing this propaganda is not true.

People also tell me, “My doctor told me there’s no research. There’s no science showing cannabis works.” (Dr. Dave responds to this misconception below.) 

There are a lot of myths about cannabis—the list goes on. But those are some of the main ones that people come in with preconceptions about.

Q: At Leaf411, one way we’re answering that concern about research is with our online Leaf Library. How do you answer questions about research, beyond saying “trust me”? 

My response varies between patients based on how they learn and what they want to know. We have different levels of research. You know, we have research that’s done in the lab that shows how and why cannabis works. And then we have research in animals showing its benefit. We also have research in humans, but the research in humans often isn’t as robust as we have for other medications because of the restrictions.

But I also remind people that most of what happens in a regular conventional medical office is also not supported by gold standard research using large-scale double-blind trials. Most conventional providers’ practice is based observational studies or recommendations, the exact same kind of research we have for cannabis, as well.

Evidence-based medicine is not just picking one study and saying, “Here’s the evidence. This is what we do.” Evidence-based medicine is combining the best research and science we have with our patients’ experiences, and with physicians’ experiences. And using those three aspects to make decisions that are best for a given patient. That is true evidence-based medicine. 

Q: From the patient perspective, when is the best time for someone to talk to a cannabis physician?

I am a little biased, but I think early on is best. In a perfect world, everybody would get guidance, even people who are knowledgeable about cannabis.

When I see a patient who tells me they’ve used cannabis for 25 years, there’s still information that I can provide to really optimize their treatment.

When we’re talking about the person who is new to cannabis, I think early is best, ideally before they use it or within the first month. 

My biggest concern with a new cannabis patient is that they’ll have a negative experience early on due to the product they tried or using too much. 

It’s not dangerous but they felt uncomfortable. That creates a negative association. We know in all treatments, someone’s initial experiences play a huge role. We want to avoid negative experiences early on, because that makes future treatment more difficult.

I think all people need some education early on how to use appropriate dosing and appropriate products to minimize negative experiences. And a lot of that’s just starting really low. I don’t think the industry facilitates that in the way they package and label products, and I don’t think budtenders facilitate that. Most people working in dispensaries are cannabis users, and probably have higher tolerance than someone who is new to cannabis. They may not understand low dose concepts like building up the dose slowly.

I don’t think someone necessarily has to see a doctor, but they should get guidance on the concept of starting low. This could come from an educational resource like Leaf411. 

Obviously, seeing a cannabis doctor can increase the likelihood that the first thing the person tries will be effective. Talking to any knowledgeable healthcare provider makes it more likely that someone will find the most effective dose or product sooner. 

Q: How do you guide patients to talk to their primary care doctor, knowing that there is resistance and lack of knowledge among some providers?

I recommend that patients start by sharing their personal feelings and goals.

Don’t just say, “I’m using cannabis, deal with it.”

Instead, maybe say, “Hey, I’ve been really struggling with this. You know that we’ve tried many things and I haven’t been getting optimal results. I’ve tried this new thing. It’s really helping me. I’d really like to stick with this because I’m feeling better.”

If the doctor hears the patient articulate that they’re doing well and they’re achieving their goals, but they’re not willing to support that—I mean, I usually tell patients that’s the time you need to think about getting a new doctor.

If a doctor doesn’t know something and says, “Okay, I’d love to learn more. How can I support you?” that’s okay. They don’t need to be a cannabis expert. 

I wish that every doctor understood the low dose concept. If a patient said, “I want to try cannabis,” the doctor’s response would be, “I don’t know anything. But all I know is that you start with one or two milligrams and go up every few days.” If every doctor just knew that, that would be outstanding.

Q: Many people in the cannabis space have a story. What’s yours?

My story is not so much a personal story. For me, it’s really just seeing what worked with patients and what didn’t work.

I always wanted to be a doctor and enjoyed the sciences, and started on a pretty straight path going to medical school. I had no exposure to integrative medicine or anything beyond standard medicine throughout my training.

I started my own practice right out of residency, a general internal medicine, primary care practice. Paying attention to patients and how they were doing, I realized what I was taught didn’t work very well. I was doling out medicines left and right, and yet people were not getting better. Even if their numbers got better, I would see them keep coming in with side effects and new issues.

Within the first year or two of practice, I decided that I needed better tools. I started learning more about nutrition and root causes of health issues, and expanded into integrative practice where I had a bigger toolbox. I partnered with patients, spending more time with them to find out what their triggers were. Then, I incorporated new tools, using other practitioners, chiropractors, psychologists, physical therapists, and acupuncturists. I also taught myself more about nutrition and incorporated that piece as well. Patients really got better using those modalities.

Once cannabis was legalized in Colorado, I immediately had patients coming to me and saying, “Oh, I’ve already been using cannabis for my pain,” or “I’ve been using cannabis for sleep,” or for other conditions. Patients asked, “Will you authorize my medical card?” These were patients I knew and trusted, and so I signed off on that.

After hearing similar stories from many patients, I thought I should try to learn about cannabis beyond just signing off on it. When I looked into things, I was blown away by how much information was already out there about the endocannabinoid system and cannabis. At the time, there were a few decades of research showing what cannabis does, why it works, and how people were benefiting from it.

I saw this firsthand in my practice, as well. When patients were struggling, I looked at using cannabis as a bridge to help them get better so we could implement other dietary and lifestyle measures. Cannabis was just one part of my toolbox.

My story has really been focused on what’s best for the patient. That’s what led me to general integrative medicine, and to cannabis specifically.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

For More Information

You can learn more about Dr. Dave and 4Pillars Health & Wellness here. Dr. Dave provides in-person, phone, and video consults for people seeking guidance and education on cannabis as well as other integrative health practices to improve overall health. He also offers office appointments for Colorado residents seeking a medical marijuana card.

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline is proud to have supporters like Dr. Dave. Our nurse team depends on our medical advisors to take our callers to the next level of care that is outside our scope of practice and Dr. Dave can do just that. He takes in-person, phone, and video consultations from all over the country. We are proud to list his practice as a resource for our callers.

We recognize that not everyone may have the resources to visit a cannabis doctor. That’s a big reason why we set up our hotline as a free service available to anyone, anywhere, regardless of their insurance coverage or ability to pay.

Do you have questions about using cannabis for a health concern?

Would you like to learn more about the low dose concept?

Call 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) for answers from our cannabis-trained registered nurses.