ForwardGro and ForwardExtracts have combined best in class business management, medical cannabis research, greenhouse growing practices, and patient advocacy to become Maryland’s premier grower of medical cannabis and related products. The team was united in 2014 by a common goal – to bring legal, accessible and quality medical cannabis to the state of Maryland. Through years of research, industry and professional relationship building, and business planning, the team is ready to grow having secured its Stage 1 license from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. The team will begin immediately to finalize greenhouse plans in order to secure Stage 2 licenses to begin growing, and have products available for purchase in the second half of 2017.
In 2013 when Mike McCarthy and Gary Mangum, co-founders of Maryland’s largest greenhouse operation learned the state was considering legalizing cannabis for medical use, they were very interested in learning about the growing process. Their initial research showed the vast majority of cannabis being produced via indoor growing facilities, which went against everything the duo knew from a lifetime of working in agriculture, growing plants in controlled greenhouse environments utilizing the sun and changing seasons to grow consistent, quality plant products of all descriptions.
In early 2014, McCarthy and Mangum were introduced to Dan Ramaty and Debra Kimless, MD, a board certified anesthesiologist with a subspecialty in pain medicine. Ramaty and Kimless had been studying the effects of cannabis on a variety of medical conditions ranging from simple pain management, as a positive replacement for opiods, and as a treatment component for major disease. Kimless’ first-hand experience in helping patients in legal states through individualized treatments, and her willingness to share her knowledge has made her a leading voice at cannabis-related conferences and symposiums around the world.
In March 2014, Mangum testified before the Maryland legislature related to agricultural expertise on the topic of growing, and was interviewed by WBAL-TV (http://bit.ly/2aE41pV) in an Eastern Shore greenhouse where he discussed the simplicity, energy savings, and sustainability of greenhouse growing as compared to artificial indoor environments. It was this WBAL-TV piece that led Gail Rand to reach out to Mangum as they were both parents that could relate to the struggles around epilepsy and the impact it has on families.
Gail Rand, a CPA, financial consultant and working mom whose son suffers from epilepsy was passionately pursuing cannabis legislation in Maryland. She played an integral role in helping pass the 2014 medical cannabis legislation (SB923/HB881), as well as the 2015 legislation that improved the program. She founded StopTheSeizures.org, a parental advocacy group for the legalization of medical cannabis in Maryland for children with epilepsy. She is CEO and founder of Grand Consulting, LLC, focused in the cannabis industry.
As founders of Bell Nursery, the nation’s seventh largest greenhouse operation, Mike McCarthy and Gary Mangum, have deep roots in Maryland agriculture. Mangum’s family owned greenhouses in Montgomery County as far back as the 19th century. The duo started their careers with Creative Plantings, the nation’s first, and ultimately one of the largest interiorscape service providers, owned by Mangum’s parents. They purchased the entire operation in 1992 and Bell Nursery began selling to Home Depot soon after. In 2008, Bell was named Home Depot Supplier of the Year, and today, Depot’s single largest live goods supplier, with operations in six states and the District of Columbia. Recently Mangum and Bell Nursery were chosen for the 2016 Innovation Award, presented by the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce for their work with pollinator preservation and for their widely celebrated environmental growing practices.
Based on their success in growing live goods, McCarthy and Mangum quickly saw the potential for growing cannabis in a greenhouse environment. Greenhouses are efficient, sustainable, require less energy and result in a more consistent, robust product. McCarthy and Mangum are experts in Integrated Pest Management, an industry best practice for reducing pesticide usage through more hands on and natural treatment of pests, which means fewer chemicals used in growing best in class flowers, including cannabis.
While the medical value of cannabis is known, and accepted in many states, there are still many new uses and science opportunities yet to be revealed. Kimless has been actively pursuing data through pro bono individualized treatments of patients suffering from a range of conditions including: epilepsy, arthritis, cancer and pain. In states where medical cannabis is currently legal, she’s assisted patients in developing tailored treatment plans using different methods of administration and varying cannabinoid ratios to influence patient response. She’s become a specialist in the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a signaling system that maintains physiological balance throughout the body. She has demonstrated how cannabis treatments work with the ECS to treat pain and other medical conditions.
Ongoing research demonstrates the potential for cannabis related treatments for disease and other medical conditions far beyond what is currently known. Ramaty and Kimless are on the leading edge of these discoveries through both Kimless’ own pro bono medical research, and relationships with others on the forefront of medical cannabis worldwide.
The Forward Team is naturally passionate about patient advocacy. As parents of children who suffer from seizures, both Mangum and Rand have a personal interest in cannabis as a valid and proven medical treatment. Kimless has witnessed first hand the potential for medical treatments using cannabis microdoses and topical therapies. The uses of medical cannabis have only begun to be tapped, and the team plans to be at the forefront in developing new treatments, studying and learning from the world’s most preeminent researchers.
By late 2015 the Forward team was assembled and putting long hours into developing their application to earn Stage 1 license. Over the 40 days allotted by the state they worked endless hours to create a personalized application that speaks to the team’s passion. The all encompassing effort paid off in August 2016 when the state of Maryland announced Stage 1 licenses for ForwardGro to establish greenhouse growing facilities for the purpose of growing medical cannabis. Upon production site approval and issuance of the Stage 2 license, ForwardGro products will be cultivated. The team expects products to be available to Maryland licensed dispensaries and processors, several months later.
ForwardExtracts will produce top quality medical products in partnership with licensed processors to ensure that patients have access to clean, consistent, standardized, whole plant medicines. ForwardExtracts will develop top of the line cannabinoid and terpene products in many forms including oils, lotions, suppositories, capsules and more. ForwardExtracts’ products will be available for purchase by licensed retailers throughout the state of Maryland.
By uniting the passion for compassionate medical care with sustainable growing practices, ForwardGro and ForwardExtracts promise to be the leaders in providing clean, quality cannabis and cannabis-based medical products to patients throughout Maryland.