Cresco Labs to Begin Trading on the CSE with Symbol CL on December 3rd

CHICAGO, Nov. 30, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Cresco Labs Inc. (the “Company” or “Cresco”), formerly Randsburg International Gold Corp., is pleased to announce that its business combination with Cresco Labs, LLC (the “Business Combination”) has been completed and that its subordinate voting shares (the “Subordinate Voting Shares”) have been approved for listing on the Canadian Securities Exchange (“CSE”) under the symbol “CL.” The Subordinate Voting Shares are expected to begin trading on the CSE on Monday, December 3, 2018.

In connection with the Business Combination, on November 26, 2018, Cresco Labs Finco Ltd. completed a subscription receipt offering whereby it issued an aggregate of 12,624,054 subscription receipts (the “Subscription Receipts”) for gross proceeds of C$107.3 million (the “Offering”). The Offering was completed by a syndicate led by Canaccord Genuity Corp. and GMP Securities L.P. as co-lead agents, and including Cormark Securities Inc. and Beacon Securities Limited. On closing of the Business Combination, the investors in the Offering received one (1) Subordinate Voting Share of the Company for each Subscription Receipt held.

Our public listing represents the culmination of nearly three years of unmatched success in winning state licenses in the most competitive, highly regulated cannabis markets and firmly establishing Cresco as an early leader in this emerging industry.

Early on, by realizing that cannabis is a natural fit in the consumer-packaged goods industry, we developed a differentiated and upscale brand strategy that moves across the value chain covering all price points. At the same time, we developed a well-honed business blueprint that enables our rapid entry into new markets where we can capture leading market share right from the start.

“With our outstanding team of recognized leaders in diverse fields, with backgrounds in highly regulated and public markets, and an esteemed board of directors, our interests are closely aligned with shareholders as well as regulators, legislators and consumers.”

“Better access to the capital markets as a public company will help drive our expansion strategy,” Bachtell added. “At the same time, we intend to continue our support of consumer education, medical advisory, and public education and research that can be highly impactful on the direction of the cannabis industry.”

The Business Combination was structured as a series of transactions, including Canadian three-cornered amalgamation transactions and a series of U.S. reorganization steps, which resulted in the Company indirectly acquiring all of the voting securities of Cresco Labs, LLC.

As part of the Business Combination, the Company, among other things: (i) amended the Company’s notice of articles and articles to (a) amend the rights and restrictions of the then-existing class of common shares and redesignate such class as Subordinate Voting Shares, (b) create a class of super voting shares (the “Super Voting Shares”), and, (c) create a class of proportionate voting shares (the “Proportionate Voting Shares”); (ii) changed the Company’s name to Cresco Labs Inc.; and (iii) appointed MNP LLP as the auditors of the Company.

In connection with the closing of the Business Combination, the following individuals were appointed to the board of directors of the Company: Charles Bachtell; Joe Caltabiano; Dominic Sergi; Brian McCormack; Robert M. Sampson; John R. Walter; Gerald Corcoran; Thomas Manning; and, Randy Podolsky.

The Company is also pleased to announce the appointment of the following officers: Charles Bachtell – Chief Executive Officer; Joe Caltabiano – President; Ken Amman – Chief Financial Officer; Zach Marburger – Chief Information Officer; David Ellis – Chief Operating Officer; Jason Erkes – Chief Communications Officer; and, John Schetz – General Counsel.

The Business Combination was completed in the manner described in the Company’s listing statement (the “Listing Statement”) filed with the Canadian Securities Exchange (“CSE”) and available under the Company’s profile on www.sedar.com.

Posted In: Company News

CRESCO LABS EXPANDS ARIZONA FOOTPRINT WITH ACQUISITION OF CULTIVATION, PROCESSING AND DISPENSARY ASSETS

(Chicago, IL) – October 29, 2018 – Cresco Labs, one of the largest multi-state vertically integrated cannabis operators in the United States, today announced its acquisition of licenses and assets in the state of Arizona. This marks Cresco Labs’ second acquisition in Arizona, adding two cultivation facilities, one processing facility and one dispensary to a cultivation, processing and dispensary operation already owned near Phoenix.

“Arizona is a state closely aligned with our strategic focus on entering markets with great patient participation, sound regulatory structures and a need for consumer-focused and consistent, quality cannabis products,” said Cresco Labs CEO and Co-founder Charlie Bachtell. “At Cresco Labs, we have already successfully scaled the steepest learnings curves in the most highly regulated markets such as Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania. As a result, we are able to replicate our process to expand into other markets expeditiously and are excited to broaden our scale in the great state of Arizona.

Cresco has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Arizona Facilities Supply, LLC (“AFS”) and certain of its subsidiaries for cash and equity consideration. AFS provides management and advisory services to Encanto Green Cross Dispensary, a non-profit entity that holds a vertical license to cultivate, process and dispense medical marijuana in the State of Arizona, operates a medical marijuana dispensary in Phoenix, Arizona, and owns real property used for cultivation in Salome, Arizona. Closing of the transaction is expected to take place in the fourth quarter of 2018 or the first quarter of 2019, subject to receipt of applicable regulatory approvals.

With an established presence in Arizona, Cresco Labs holds an ownership interest in an existing operation consisting of a vertically integrated license with cultivation, processing, and one dispensary location near Phoenix. Arizona is one of the nation’s sizeable medical cannabis programs with over 170,000 registered patients.

Posted In: Company News

CRESCO LABS EXPANDS ITS ILLINOIS FOOTPRINT WITH PROSPECTIVE ACQUISITION OF CHICAGO-AREA DISPENSARY

(Chicago, IL) – October 29, 2018 – Cresco Labs, one of the largest vertically integrated multi-state cannabis operators in the United States, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire FloraMedex, a premier Illinois medical cannabis dispensary located in the Chicago suburb of Elmwood Park. This will be Cresco Labs’ third acquisition in Illinois with ownership interest in two other dispensaries, adding to the three cultivation and processing facilities owned in the state.

“This transaction will enhance our retail presence in Illinois, which is one of the strongest and most quickly evolving cannabis markets in the United States,” said Cresco Labs CEO and Co-founder Charlie Bachtell. “Growth in the state has been driven by an increasing number of registered patients and the recently passed Illinois Alternatives to Opioids Act which vastly expands the population of patients that can access medical cannabis in place of pharmaceutical opioid medications. Looking ahead, we will continue to emphasize compliance, control, efficiency and product performance as we position Cresco for new opportunities presented in this dynamic industry.”

FloraMedex features a loft-style environment which affords clientele ample space and comfort in an upscale urban environment and offers the highest quality medical cannabis products available in every delivery method. The dispensary has a solid and evolving patient base and is conveniently located on heavily trafficked Grand Avenue minutes away from popular retail businesses.

“Cresco’s proposed acquisition of FloraMedex will give our employees an environment to allow them to grow in a corporate structure which a stand-alone dispensary never could offer,” said Jared Boyar, Agent in Charge at FloraMedex. “When coupled with the benefits that our patient population will experience, it was a deal that made sense to all parties involved. The FloraMedex staff has been welcomed by Cresco and will continue to conduct the day-to-day operations to ensure a smooth transition for all.”

Under the terms of the transaction, Cresco Labs will pay an undisclosed amount of cash for the deal, which is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2018 subject to customary closing conditions. Cresco Labs is seeking approval to acquire FloraMedex and the acquisition is subject to approval from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

Posted In: Company News

Help Support The Fight To Add More Approved Medical Conditions

The State of Illinois is refusing to expand the list of approved medical conditions for access to medical cannabis because they “are not going to expand the program at this time”. That is not a valid reason to deny a person access to state-legalized medicine. Putting secondary agendas ahead of the pain and suffering of Illinois patients is plain wrong. Unfortunately, some of the very patients this program was intended to help, are instead forced to help the program. Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program initially included 39 medical conditions approved for access to medical cannabis. Patients worked to petition the advisory board and prove the case that their condition deserves to be added. Seven medical conditions were approved to be added by the program’s Medical Cannabis Advisory board (a board that included 5 physicians, 2 nurses, and 1 pharmacist), only to have the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) deny the recommendations.

Shah’s denial was done in a way which violated the petitioning patient’s constitutional right to a fair and open evidentiary hearing, and violated the rules of the medical cannabis program governing the addition of new conditions. The patients were left with no other option but to take IDPH to court themselves and fight for justice. Fortunately, the Judges in all seven cases ruled that the state is in the wrong, saying in one case “Director Shah engaged in a private investigation, hidden from public view and more importantly, hidden from the parties, and arrived at this conclusion based thereon. This process was constitutionally inappropriate.”

This is not acceptable and the Cook County courts agree but we need all interested parties, program participants, medical cannabis advocates, patients’ rights advocates and constitutional rights activists from around the country to help support this fight! In the spirit of “many hands make light work”, please contribute a donation to the legal fight against IDPH and help these patients win the fight for justice!

All seven lawsuits are currently working their way through the court system in various phases of appeal; respectively for chronic post-operative pain, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, polycystic kidney disease, osteoarthritis, intractable pain, and autism. The Goldberg Law Group has been the legal team fighting on behalf of suffering patients in Illinois — and they need our support. We all need to stand up here and now and fight to get the courts to add these medical conditions and to hold the State accountable for violating the constitutional rights of Illinois citizens!

After you make your contribution, please share this campaign through your social media channels and include the hashtag #SupportThe7.

*100% of donations will be forwarded to The Goldberg Law Group.

Click here to contribute!

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Federal Appeals Court Reaffirms Ban On Federal Prosecutions Of State-Legal Cannabis

Chalk Up Another Win For The Medical Cannabis Movement! Yesterday a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that the Federal Department of Justice (DOJ) cannot prosecute individuals who stay within compliance with state-level cannabis laws. This ruling is very significant because the DOJ was previously misinterpreting the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which was clearly intended to protect state-legal cannabis business and individuals from prosecution in Federal court. The amendment was written in plain language and explained the intention clearly stating that federal funds cannot be used to stop states from “implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Interestingly, DOJ read that in the narrowest interpretation possible. They felt that the amendment only prevented them from hampering state efforts to craft, pass, and then implement those new laws. Going after and prosecuting businesses and individuals was still totally ok in their minds. It would have to be pure lunacy on the part of the amendment’s creators to intend to allow a State Government to authorize someone to grow cannabis with the intention of having the Federal Government arresting them as soon as they do so. Clearly, they intended the amendment to both allow the creation of new laws, and then also protect the persons who stay within the limits of those laws.

This is not the first time the courts have had to teach the DOJ the simple skill of reading. Just about a year ago, another Federal judge issued a pointed rebuke to the DOJ saying their interpretation of the amendment “defies language and logic, “tortures the plain meaning of the statute”, and is “at odds with fundamental notions of the rule of law.” The case was subsequently dropped by the DOJ following this ruling. This court continued to build the mountain of case law around the DOJ and used the plain language of the amendment as the foundation for their new ruling. They literally explicitly referenced dictionary definitions from Merriam-Webster, the American Heritage Dictionary, and the Oxford English Dictionary to give the classic ‘explain-to-me-like-I’m-five’ (ELI5) interpretation to the DOJ. The judges quoted relevant case law regarding how to interpret the language of laws. They note that it is a “fundamental canon of statutory construction” that when interpreting a law’s language, “unless otherwise defined, words will be interpreted as taking their ordinary, contemporary, common meaning.”

This court had been tasked with making the call on if the DOJ has the authority to proceed to prosecute ten cases involving cannabis businesses in Washington and California. This ruling sent these ten cases back to their lower courts to have each case reviewed to check if they were in violation of State law. If there was no violation, we should expect the cases to be dropped. Here’s to another victory for the medical cannabis movement!

Do you think we will finally see the end of Federal prosecutions with this new ruling? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!

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Illinois May See Chronic Postoperative Pain Added To Approved Conditions

Illinois residents may soon see a new condition added to the list of approved conditions for medical cannabis. Chronic postoperative pain (C-POP) just got sent down the same path as migraines by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen. Unlike irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which was directed to be heard a second time by the medical cannabis advisory board, C-POP must be reconsidered by Nirav Shah, who is the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). This second time around Shah is expressly forbidden by Cohen from considering evidence which was not brought in front of the board. Previously, Shah used studies he sourced on his own to leverage his decision to deny C-POP.

Shah conducted a sort of retrial behind the closed door of his office, in violation of the laws and rules governing this activity. By holding a second secret-court in his office, Shah prevented the members of the board and the individual who requested the addition the opportunity to review and challenge his evidence against adding C-POP. The advisory board voted to add C-POP to the list of approved conditions, and Shah overruled them and chose to deny the addition based upon his own personal merits. This second time around Shah will have little footing from which to build a case against the addition of C-POP to the approved list. He is only specifically allowed by the ruling to consider evidence which was presented in front of the advisory board.

The plaintiff’s attorney Michael Goldberg spoke about how this condition would be well-served by medical cannabis and help stem the tide of opiate addiction saying, “There are thousands of people in Illinois that are addicted to opioids who have no choice but to use them for their pain, and that’s all they are allowed to have according to the state. These are people that will have pain for years. This nerve damage causes my client to not even take a step without pain.”

The IDPH has 30 days to either act upon or appeal the ruling. I hope that Shah acknowledges the decision of the medical advisory board, and agrees to add C-POP to the list of approved medical conditions. There are Illinoisans in pain right now, and they are counting on Shah to help!

Do you think Shah will approve the addition of C-POP this second time around? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!

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The DEA Says No To Re-Scheduling Cannabis – And Why That’s Insane

There are sources from the DEA who are saying that the organization is going to release their official response to the request to reschedule cannabis today. They are reported saying they will keep cannabis at Schedule I, but allow more universities (there has only been one single one up to now) to grow the plant for researchers. NPR is quoting the DEA’s chief Chuck Rosenberg on the agency’s motivation saying, “this decision isn’t based on danger. This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine,” he said, “and it’s not.” By law the DEA must follow in line with the recommendations of the FDA. The official release from the DEA was reported to be scheduled for today in the Federal Register.

Depending on if you are a glass half full or glass half empty person, you may be able to find the positive in this move by the DEA. Obviously, the fact that they chose to keep cannabis at Schedule I and reaffirm that they, and the FDA, believe cannabis has no accepted medical value plain sucks. If you have not already, please read my blog on how THC is actually scheduled TWICE, once as natural THC at Schedule I, and again as synthetic THC at Schedule III. Yes, I know, mind freakin’ blown! However, the DEA did say they will now start allowing additional locations to cultivate cannabis to be used in legal clinical trials. Up until now, only the University of Mississippi was the single location the DEA allowed to cultivate cannabis. They are reported as saying that they have “never denied” an application by a researcher to use legally cultivated cannabis in a medical study. That is only technically true, as they are one of up to three government bodies a researcher must get approval from prior to being allowed to conduct their study. In addition to the DEA, the FDA must give its blessing to the study, and if it is funded by tax dollars through NIDA they must also approve.

Here is one great example of how the DEA saying they do not hamper research is plain poppycock. If you have read Smoke Signals by Martin A. Lee you would have learned the truth about this topic. There once was a woman named Mary Jane Rathbun who was nicknamed ‘brownie mary’ that inspired a real doctor to research cannabis. That man, Dr. Donald Abrams, wanted to study how cannabis affected AIDS patients and if smoked cannabis or synthetic THC pills helped AIDS patients overcome ‘deadly wasting syndrome’. After hacking through a thicket of regulations and paperwork, he was ultimately denied permission because NIDA would not allow research into the benefits of cannabis, and only the harms of drugs. At the time NIDA’s director Alan Leshner clarified the spirit of the organization saying, “we are the National Institute On Drug abuse, not for Drug abuse.” Here is the kicker, after Dr. Abrams retooled his study to instead focus on proving that cannabis would harm the AIDS patients by compromising their immune systems further, NIDA gave a green light. Not surprisingly, the results showed that cannabis helped patients gain weight without weakening their immune systems.

The other must read for every cannabis advocate is Steve DeAngelo’s The Cannabis Manifesto. In his book he explains their spirit of saying, “NIDA has refused to fund research into the medical benefits of cannabis, claiming its charter prevents it from spending money on anything but the harms of drug use. Even worse, the agency has suppressed promising leads about the therapeutic potential of cannabis for extremely grave diseases like cancer.” Your tax dollars at work folks! If you didn’t already know your tax dollars are hard at work proving only the harms of cannabis, you have been enlightened. While private dollars can fund whatever their owners choose, Newsweek recently took the time to explain why it just doesn’t happen often. They explain that “the current regulations on federal marijuana prohibit providing researchers cannabis that will later be developed for commercial sale, and because any drug derived from cannabis needs to be developed from the exact same source of the plant to meet FDA regulations, pharmaceutical companies don’t have a motive to fund any research using federally grown cannabis—the only legal kind.”

medical-marijuana-cannabis-fda-has-dead-end-in-path-to-fda-approved-cannabis

Cannabis should not get a free pass to be rescheduled, the FDA/DEA/NIDA should allow the drug the same privileges of access to research and path to a sellable product as big-pharma drugs have always, and still do get. In short cannabis should go through the same process all FDA-approved drugs do, not around it through its own special path. I hope that this move by the DEA to open up more avenues will allow more researchers access to cannabis. The famous Dr. Sue Sisley, the first doctor to receive approval from all necessary agencies to study PTSD, was fired by the University of Arizona (who I think put their donors’ opinions ahead of science), and her study has been held up waiting for the DEA to pony up the legal cannabis she was approved to receive. By allowing more centers to cultivate legal cannabis for research, doctors like Sisley will be able to have access to the cannabis they need at the potency and strain they request. The big positive to focus on is that there is now a wider road to access for researchers to finally prove, in a way the FDA blesses and approves, that cannabis has medical value and acceptable medical use.

Now that you know your tax dollars are only allowed to research the harms of drugs via NIDA, what will you do? Now that you know the government talks out of both corners of its mouth when discussing the medical value of cannabis, what will you do? The FDA allows INSYS to legally produce synthetic THC and doctors to prescribe it. With their other hand, the government uses the DEA to define natural THC as having no medical value by keeping it as a Schedule I substance. That does not make any sense! Scream the truth from the rooftops people!

Meanwhile, on a super fun note…while the Obama administration is sitting idle and letting this travesty against logic pass, President Obama’s daughter, Malia Obama, was recently caught in Chicago at Lollapalozza on video smoking what is clearly something that looks a lot like a cannabis joint. Her father shouldn’t be too mad, as he experimented with cannabis as a young man himself. How’s that for ironic!!!

What will you do to share the truth that THC is double-classified, your tax dollars are only allowed to research the harms of cannabis via NIDA, and the FDA has dead-end built into the path to FDA-approved cannabis? Tell us in the comments below, or on Facebook!

Posted In: News

This Year’s Oregon State Fair Has Live Cannabis Plants

No summer is complete without a trip to the State Fair! This year Oregon residents will have a new reason to look forward to the fair, where this year’s slogan is “Here Comes the Fun”. The top nine cannabis plants selected during the first phase of competition will be presented at the Oregon State Fair for all to see. The first phase will run from August 13-14 at the Oregon State Fairgrounds. This first ever Oregon Cannabis Growers’ Fair has attracted over 100 cultivators to sign up who will compete in three separate categories: indica, sativa, & hybrid. Before you get too excited, these plants will be for looking and not for smoking. This is a cultivators soiree as the sponsors want it to be “an opportunity to bring the entire industry under one roof to learn from ‘master growers.’” This “first-ever cannabis live plant competition” in American history at a US state fair will feature live cannabis plants, and award blue ribbons to the winning plants in each class “4-H” style. There will be a total of $10,000 in prizes awarded during the competition. The Oregon State Fair will run from August 26 through September 5.

The competing plants will be judged on color, shape and structure, node stacking, leaf structure, aroma, general health and lack of pests. Don Morse, the chairman of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council, explained the 4-H system saying, “you get a blue, purple or yellow ribbon. We are celebrating the plant as a farm crop from Oregon.” The location of these plants at the fair is a reflection of our society’s continuing ambivalence to cannabis. The fact that cannabis plants are even present at the fair is a testimony to how much our perception of cannabis has changed through the recent years. Interestingly, the regulation of these plants as “a prop of sorts” attached to the Oregon Cannabis Business Council booth. If these cannabis plants were truly looked at in a similar light as the other agricultural crops present, they would be permitted as sanctioned state fair exhibits or part of official agricultural competitions.

This year’s cannabis crop will be found inside an age-restricted security staffed greenhouse. A far cry from out in the open. Only those over the age of 21 will be allowed inside the greenhouse to view the plants. This should still be considered a step forward, as the Colorado State Fair only allowed pictures of cannabis plants in 2014. A sentiment reflected by the Fair’s spokesperson, Dan Cox, saying “folks are kind of enjoying the perceived friction between state fair values and pop culture. It’s a truly diverse fair.” At the fair many people will be able to experience these wonderful cannabis plants in person, and it will be an opportunity to help wash away what is left of the negative stigma. Here’s to hoping next year’s fair has a new cannabis added to the agricultural competition!

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Three Year Annivesary Of Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Pilot Program – Look How Far We’ve Come!

The path to happiness is not having what you want, but wanting (or at least being grateful for) what you have already. Illinois residents have a lot to be grateful for with regards to cannabis! In addition to the three year anniversary of the medical cannabis pilot program, this past Friday Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 2228 into law which decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis. What was once an arrestable jailable offense, is now the equivalent of a parking ticket. Previously possession of cannabis was a criminal misdemeanor punishable by arrest and up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine. Today 10 grams or less of cannabis in your possession would land you a civil fine of no more than $200, without any permanent marks on your criminal record. The key word is decriminalize, which by definition means to make something that was illegal then legal by means of legislation. So technically possession of cannabis not 100% totally legal with the fine remaining. Keep that in mind before rolling a 51 foot joint and marching it down Michigan Avenue. If you do, make sure it’s filled with air and not cannabis as the new law only applies to amounts less than 10 grams!

On a lighter note, the decriminalization of possession is even more reason to not eat your stash. In this case eating in the sense of making disappear, not eating as in consuming. Two Texas lawyers, Will Hutson and Chris Harris, wrote a fun song to help us remember the importance of not making a bad situation worse called “Don’t Eat Your Weed.” If you are stopped by the law, trying to destroy the cannabis in your possession will raise something on the level of a parking ticket to a Federal offense. As in permanently losing your right to vote, and likely facing an uphill battle trying to land a job. Please just be honest and respectful of the officer and the law and take the possession ticket, rather than end up with a Federal conviction on your record.

In addition to changing the penalties for possession, the new law also modified the limits which indicated intoxication for cannabis. The metaphorical line in the sand was relocated from totally absolute zero, to 5 nanongrams of THC in whole blood, or 10 nanograms of other bodily substances. To be clear the law specifically links the level of THC, and not THC-COOH, to intoxication. THC-COOH is the chemical our bodies convert THC into after it is metabolized, or processed. When you consume THC and feel high, your body actually has unmetabolized THC coursing through it, and you will not stop feeling high until it is all processed into THC-COOH. Since cannabinoids are fat soluble, meaning they dissolve in fat, these chemicals stick in the fatty deposits throughout your body. This the reason why you can fail a drug test for cannabis weeks after having last consumed, while other almost all other drugs will be totally out of your system within three days. There is a big difference between water-soluble and fat-soluble drugs when it comes to how long they stay in you body. So while you may fail your drug test for work with THC-COOH in your system weeks after having last consumed, you will not be considered intoxicated according to the law while you are driving to the testing center and back.

As you can see in the graphical depiction below, the amount of THC spikes immediately after use, and quickly falls as the body processes THC into THC-COOH. It looks to show about three hours for blood, and about four hours for saliva, until this patient would be considered sober by the standard of measured THC per the law. To be clear, if you feel intoxicated or are under the influence of any drug, you should not be driving a car or operating machinery.

THC-vs-THCCOOH-graph
Courtesy of California NORML

This change in cannabis law marks the three year anniversary of the medical cannabis program in Illinois. What a great way to celebrate the progress of cannabis! Look how far we have come! A mere three years ago, or about 1,095 days ago, Illinois forged a legal path for qualifying patients to obtain medical cannabis. Over the past three years Illinois residents have had a chance to see the chicken-little like anti-cannabis proponents proven wrong. The sky has not fallen, anarchy has not broken out, and there has not been a tidal wave of crime and addiction as a result of allowing qualified patients access to medical cannabis. The negative stigma which sticks to cannabis is losing its power with each passing day. Every time a patient in Illinois shares how cannabis helps them, people who associate nothing but negativity with cannabis are forced to recalibrate their mental understanding of the plant. Today our program has over 8,000 patients enrolled, and each and every single one is a shining example of how cannabis has medical value.

What are your thoughts about the last three years in Illinois? What do you think about the progress of the medical cannabis pilot program in Illinois? Please tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!

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Judge Rules IBS Gets A Second Chance To Be Added To Approved List

Yesterday yet another Cook County judge ordered Nirav D. Shah to go back a few spaces in the boardgame that is the path to add new approved conditions for medical cannabis in Illinois. Circuit Judge Anna Helen Demacopoulos ruled Shah violated procedural due process rights of the individual, identified only as John Doe in the lawsuit, who petitioned the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) added. After the board reviewed the evidence submitted and unanimously recommended the condition to be added, Shah redrew the lines of the board game and inserted his own personal opportunity to put the condition on trial alone in his office. He dug up evidence and included things not submitted during the trial, and since this was happening in the solidarity of his office, the person who petitioned the board did not have the opportunity to challenge this new evidence. After this back-room-trial was completed, Shah then denied IBS based upon his own private conclusions.

Demacopoulos scoured the rules of the board game and found that, “there is no IDPH rule, nor is there any language in the [Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program] Act, empowering the [d]irector to conduct his own investigation or add materials to the record that were not considered at the hearing.” The fact is simple, the trial is intended to be a fair public review of the evidence, and Shah violated that intent. In an attempt to bring fairness back to this case, the judge ordered that the Medical Advisory Board will examine the “extrinsic evidence”, at which time John Doe will have the opportunity to challenge the secret evidence. In a sort of a retrial, after the evidence is fully reviewed, the board will issue another recommendation to Shah to add or remove IBS.

My guess is the recommendation will not change, and like the similar situation with migraines currently, the director will have little foothold to stand on when attempting to deny the condition. When Shah issued his denial back in October he noted a lacking of “substantial evidence from adequate, well-controlled clinical trials” which supported the use of cannabis to treat IBS. Nevermind the evidence submitted by Doe, and the honest heartfelt confessions of Doe, these things did not carry enough weight to sway Shah. Doe is just a normal guy who confessed to the board that after suffering with IBS for many years and trying pharmaceuticals, the pills he took were just ineffective at treating his condition. Medical cannabis helped Doe find relief, and along the way demonstrated the real medical efficacy of the plant to him and to this board. Shah needs to play by the rules, allow a fair and open review of the facts, and issue a final ruling based upon the board’s recommendation and the evidence reviewed in front of the board.

What do you think Shah should do different this second time around? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!

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Puerto Rico’s First Registered Medical Cannabis Doctor Is A Valuable Asset

Puerto Rico translated into English literally means rich port. Puerto Rico is a rich port in many ways, but just added another valuable asset to their wealth which cannot be measured in currency. Dr. Michael Soler recently became the first doctor on the island to be awarded the necessary certification from the Government to prescribe medical cannabis to qualifying patients. Soler is a pioneer in the doctor community, being the first to bridge the gap and bring legal access to patients, and was recently interviewed about his achievement.

Dr. Soler was quite humble about his status as a pioneer, saying that his position as a leader in the medical cannabis movement “was a coincidence to be honest with you. I completed all my requirements and submitted all my documents in a timely manner and I became the first one.” Well Dr. Soler, as the saying goes ‘luck favors the well prepared’, and so Puerto Rico is poised to have a responsible, confident, and well-prepared proactive leader set the example for many doctors to follow.

dr-michael-soler-puerto-ricos-first-medical-cannabis-doctor
Dr. Michael Soler – Courtesy of marijuana.com

The doctor expertly noted that patients must be diagnosed with one of fourteen approved conditions to be eligible for a prescription. These conditions include alzheimer’s, anorexia, anxiety disorders, arthritis, cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, crohn’s disease, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, HIV, hepatitis C, spinal cord injury, lateral sclerosis (ALS), migraines, multiple sclerosis, parkinson’s disease, persistent muscle spasms, rheumatoid arthritis, and severe nausea.

Puerto Rico is technically not a state, but instead a commonwealth of the United States. The currency of this island is US dollars, Puerto Ricans serve in the US Military, and the postal service is provided by the US Postal Service. The commonwealth status provides local autonomy to the island, but it is ultimately under the umbrella of the US Government. Many feel that Puerto Ricans will have nothing to fear from the US, as the US Government has already shown their unwillingness to interfere with state-legal medical and recreational markets in the continental US. Dr. Soler believes that Puerto Rico will someday see recreational cannabis like some parts of the US have already, as this medical program is in his words “one of the first steps in that direction.” For now legal medical cannabis patients should expect sales of legal cannabis to start on the island around November of this year.

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Medical Cannabis Debuts In Florida

Floridians residing in the sunshine state may be interested to know that medical cannabis sales are starting next week! Trulieve, located in Tallahassee, is the state’s first medical cannabis dispensary to get the official legal green light from the state to start doing business. Similarly to Illinois, Florida had a long delay after the law was made official while the new businesses got up and running, navigated rough legal waters, and then finally completed all the necessary inspections and approvals.

Interestingly the 2014 law which authorized the legal sale of medical cannabis, only did so for what is termed “low-THC” or “non-euphoric” cannabis. The law allowed only patients who were diagnosed with chronic muscle spasms, cancer or severe forms of epilepsy access to the low-THC products. A recent 2016 law added to the program what is termed “high-THC” cannabis, but only allowed terminal illness as the sole qualifying condition. Perplexingly, the program requires someone with little time left to live to go though the additional rigor of being declared terminally ill by not just one doctor, but two. High-THC cannabis would be better termed normal or regular cannabis to those familiar with the medical cannabis marketplace, as high-THC dominates market share of the current medical marketplace.

Florida state health officials estimate about 250,000 patients would qualify now for the low-THC medical cannabis. With Florida typically being the destination for retiring Americans, it would not shock me if patient numbers are very low. The older the age demographic, the more strongly ingrained and retained the Reefer Madness type thinking generally is in the group. The restrictive nature of their program is a reflection of the strong anti-cannabis sentiment which exist in the state’s population. I hope that the doctors and aging population of Florida alike come to embrace the idea that medical cannabis can be an option to discuss. As of this blog post only 15 doctors have signed up in Florida to register medical cannabis patients. The CEO of Trulieve, Kim Rivers, has no fears or doubts about the future of the program in Florida as she thinks “once people realize that it really is medicine, that it’s not in any way recreational, they will see why people need it.”

This program may expand come November of this year when Florida residents vote on a measure to modify the current program. Voters will cast their votes on whether to add Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS and post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for high-THC medical cannabis. In 2014 a similar measure was attempted, but failed by a small margin. I believe that this time around Floridians will vote to pass the measure. Trulieve also shows on their website that five additional locations are coming soon including Bradenton, Pensacola, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Clearwater.

What do you think about Florida’s medical cannabis program? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook!!!

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Cannabis May Be The Anti-Drug; States With Medical Cannabis Programs Have Lower Prescription Drug Spending

Researchers recently released the findings of a study meant to understand how medical cannabis effects patients usage of prescription drugs. Researchers found by analyzing data that states which have medical cannabis programs have shown a drop in prescription drug spending. Specifically the study looked at Medicare part D spending between 2010 and 2013, which covers the cost of prescription medications only. Researchers found that nationally states together saved roughly $165 million dollars in 2013. The researchers were not able to directly link the drop in spending to the start of the medical cannabis program. W. David Bradford, a professor of public policy at the University of Georgia and one of the study’s authors, did note the obvious correlation saying “…it’s pretty good indirect evidence that people are using [medical cannabis] as medication.” Interestingly when the data is analyzed further, not all prescription drugs fell uniformly.

When researchers took a deeper look into which prescription drugs fell and which rose, there was a correlation to conditions for which cannabis is commonly recommended. Scientists noted that “…the number of drug prescriptions dropped for treating anxiety, depression, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders and spasticity.” However conditions for which cannabis is not typically recommended did not see decreases. This correlates to the idea that patients are replacing or lowering their typical pharmaceutical intake by supplementing medical cannabis. While this may be a potential victory for cash-strapped Americans, the victory is not yet ours completely. Currently medical cannabis patients must pay for their cannabis from dispensaries out of pocket, but that may change when insurance companies finally understand that overall prescription drug costs could be lower if they include medical cannabis. Cannabis itself is not susceptible to pharmaceutical patents and monopolies and will likely remain low cost. Lester Grinspoon, who has written two books about cannabis, reaffirmed this idea saying “there’s a limit to how high a price cannabis can be sold at as a medicine.”

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NPR also focused in on the fact that some prescriptions fell while others stayed constant. They seem to be as ready as me to draw the causation between the drop and cannabis saying “…it appears likely legalization led to a drop in prescriptions. That point, they said, is strengthened because prescriptions didn’t drop for medicines such as blood-thinners, for which marijuana isn’t an alternative.” In the big picture, replacing one medicine with another only is cost-saving if the new medication is cheaper than the original. To that point, “Bradford maintains that if medical marijuana became a regular part of patient care nationally, the cost curve would bend because marijuana is cheaper than other drugs.”

Steve DeAngelo discusses the potential for cannabis to reduce pharmaceutical drug intake in seniors in his book The Cannabis Manifesto. In chapter three, titled cannabis has always been a medicine, he discusses how a recent study showed cannabis to be beneficial in helping senior reduce the number of prescriptions they take daily. Specifically of the Israeli senior studied, “…72 percent of participants were able to reduce their drug intake by an average of 1.7 medications a day.” Furthermore workers at the senior home observed “almost all patients reported an increase in sleeping hours and a decrease in nightmares and PTSD-related flashbacks.” Cannabis has the potential to join the current medical arsenal currently deployed by doctors to treat the sick and ailing. We all need to work hard together to get past the negative stigma and take a hard look at the scientific facts.

Do you think that the drop in prescription drug spending is directly caused by the creation of a medical cannabis program? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!

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Do You Have A Million Dollar Idea Related To Cannabis? New ‘Marijuana Show’ Is ‘Shark Tank’ For Ganjapreneurs

Inside our imaginations, literally anything is possible. It is a place where we can conjure up vivid and intricate thoughts and tales of our worst fears, or our wildest hopes. Like a river, our imaginations produce a free-flowing stream which cuts the divide between our conscious and subconscious. While we may feel at times unable to direct our imaginations, fixated on one topic or thought, at other times we may be able to whittle our dreams with the precision and craftsmanship of a lifelong lapidarist.

Many people are familiar with the ABC show Shark Tank, and now there is a new play on this show which focuses on the cannabis sector. Creators Karen Paull and Wendy Robbins boast their new show titled “The Marijuana Show” is a “an accelerator[,] and the show is a marketing platform for their products and their company.” Described by one of the show’s creators Paull The Marijuana Show is “…Shark Tank meets American Idol, because we also do a lot with developing a person’s self-esteem [and] their ability to vet numbers.” The biggest difference between the two shows structure is that in Shark Tank the investors hear the pitches themselves, whereas in the Marijuana Show the hosts act as an intermediary in between the presenters on the show and the show’s pool of investors. The Marijuana Show has recently completed their second season, and is about to start their third. Episodes are available now for purchase via major online outlets.

One of the best attributes of the series is their departure from the typical harsh treatment of some participants by the Shark Tank crew. In contrary, the Marijuana Show team strives to “be champions of the contestants, rarely offering harsh appraisals.” No one is getting eaten alive on the Marijuana Show, but instead a strong thread of positively uplifting energy beams from the show because “the hosts didn’t reject any outright—they promised to follow up with every company.” The Marijuana Show is just what this industry needs, a place for hope to flourish and dreams to become reality! This coming third season will offer a larger pool of investors, and creators also hope to include a crowdfunding aspect too! Along with the money, the show plans to feature big names like Russell Simmons and Ricky Williams.

The next time your mind wanders, try with all the might you can muster to direct your mental river a positive and productive direction. Paull and Robbins noted some areas pack more potential than others, specifically noting “packaging for marijuana products, laboratories that test cannabis products and ancillary businesses that don’t sell or handle actual pot products but support marijuana business owners” as areas for ganjapreneurs to focus. The next time you solve a problem with a novel solution, think for a moment and wonder if others would benefit from your idea. Rather than focusing your imagination on producing played-out tales of the “what ifs” of life, imagine how you can make the world a cleaner, safer, and more enjoyable place to live!

What do you think about this new show? Please tell us about your reactions and thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook!

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The Democratic Party Wants To Remove Cannabis From Schedule I And Set Path To Legalization

Recently the Democratic Party has been hard at work chiseling their finalized official party platform into fruition. The party’s platform committee meeting was held this past weekend in Orlando, FL, playing host to Hillary and Bernie supporters alike. Sanders’ coalition reportedly did not arrive to the meeting with any intention of pushing the cannabis topic, but shockingly to some an amendment was proposed.

Initially the amendment was strong in its wording, calling for the full removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act’s schedule list. One well-read attendee, David King who is a lawyer and Sanders delegate from Tennessee, argued to the group that the move is necessary because of the historical fact that cannabis was stigmatized and made illegal “during a ‘craze’ to hurt ‘hippies and blacks.’” Some delegates were worried that this would roll over state-led efforts to study medical and recreational markets. Common ground was found by the group in finally agreeing to a downgrade, in place of fully removing cannabis from the schedule list. In addition, the committee included wording, although somewhat vague, which called for a path to legalize cannabis. By a small a margin as possible, the amendment passed 81-80 in this final version below:

“Because of conflicting laws concerning marijuana, both on the federal and state levels, we encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from its list as a Class 1 Federal Controlled Substance, providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization.”

Upon passage of the amendment a “roar of applause” flooded the room! At the conclusion of the event supporters were heard saying “Thank you! Thank you!” This development is monumental. It is the ‘pudding’ made from pure proof; Americans are pushing hard for a fresh new look at cannabis!

Do you support this move by the Democratic Party? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!

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PTSD Added To Approved Conditions Via Lawsuit – Are More Conditions To Follow?

PTSD was recently ordered to be added to the list of approved conditions for medical cannabis in Illinois not once, but twice. Once as the outcome of a lawsuit filed by an Illinois Iraq War Veteran, Daniel Paul Jabs, against the Illinois Department of Public Health. Then days later a second time via amendment 3 of SB10, an effort which was spearheaded by Skokie State Rep. Lou Lang. Jabs filed his lawsuit after Nirav Shah, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, and Governor Rauner refused to follow the advisory board’s recommendation to add PTSD to the approved list.

Judge Cohen, a Cook county judge, presided over the case and held no punches in his judgement. Bob Morgan, the initial director of the Illinois medical cannabis program, qualified the gravity of the ruling saying, “…outside of the cannabis context, I am hard-pressed to recall such a scathing ruling against a state agency administrative decision.” Judge Cohen had the following to say about the Shah’s conduct;

“The Director’s legal duty was to review the evidence, review the advisory board’s recommendations based thereon and render a final decision accepting or denying the proposal. Instead, Director Shah engaged in a private investigation, hidden from public view and more importantly, hidden from the parties and arrived at his conclusion based thereon. This process was constitutionally inappropriate.” June 28, 2016 Memorandum and Order, Jabs v. IDPH, 15 CH 16344.

To boil it down, in my opinion Shah violated his duty to the law and his fellow citizens. Shah chose to operate outside the rules, and Judge Cohen nailed him on it. I can only imagine the behind the scenes pressure Rauner placed on Shah to get him to go against the board and the rules. Veteran Daniel Paul Jabs summarized his reaction to the ruling by saying he “feels this decision gives him and other military veterans suffering from PTSD the respect they deserve from the state and the governor’s office.” Veterans deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. Judge Cohen was clear in stating in his judgement that Shah applied a standard of medical evidence which “appears nowhere in the Act or the Department’s rules,” going on to be crystal clear the Judge also qualified Shah’s actions as “contrary to the plain language of the Department’s rules.”

Here is the interesting part! Currently there are two other cases on Judge Cohen’s docket for similar lawsuits about chronic post-operative pain and osteoarthritis. Common sense would lead one to believe that Judge Cohen would likely follow the legal precedent set by the PTSD case, and rule in the same manner with these next two if the circumstances and facts are similar. We can certainly hope so! Aside from these two lawsuits there are also five others on the docket of other Cook County judges for conditions including migraines, IBS, polycystic kidney disease, intractable pain and autism. The timeline on all these cases is hard to estimate, but remember, good things come to those who wait. My gut tells me Judge Cohen’s comments will send a wakeup call to both the IDPH and the Governor, remind them they will be held to the rule of law just like everyone else, and show them the citizens of Illinois will not stand idly by while backroom closed-door proceedings supersede the will of the people.

Do you think the pending lawsuits will have the same outcome as PTSD did? Tells us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!

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Illinois Medical Cannabis Program Officially Expands And Extends

Governor Rauner recently signed the bill into law which expands and extends the current Illinois medical cannabis program. The program was started in 2013, as was set to run four years to end in 2017. Such a large undertaking took time to get off the ground and up and running, with Illinois not seeing actual medical cannabis sales until November 2015. The program would have only been left with a little over a year to show results and allow regulators and citizens alike to draw meaningful conclusions. State Rep. Lou Lang, the Skokie representative who championed this latest expansion effort, noted his efforts to extend the program were necessary because the year left “simply wasn’t long enough.” Legislators were able to agree on a 2 ½ year extension of the program, with the new sunset date of July 2020. Along with extending the program, this bill also update the way doctors interact with the program, and the conditions covered.

Cresco Labs’ own founder and CEO Charles Bachtell celebrated this achievement for Illinois saying, “It’s a very good thing for us.” Bachtell also noted the deeper meaning in this event saying, “It’s somewhat of an endorsement of the state saying, ‘You’re doing the right thing. We like what we’re seeing from the pilot program and let’s make some reasonable modifications.’” The bill increased the list of approved conditions from 39 to 41, by adding PTSD and terminal illness. Ironically just before this bill was signed, an Illinois judge ordered the director of the medical cannabis program to add PTSD as the result of lawsuit brought against the Illinois Department of Public Health. America’s veterans need all the support we can provide them, and this new treatment option will hopefully bring relief to many in need. Those with terminal illness should be granted access to a medicine which will not only treat their pain, but uplift their souls and allow them to make the best their time remaining.

The bill also made a small, but extremely meaningful, adjustment to the way in which doctors, patients, and the state interact. Previously doctors were required to sign forms from the state which not only recorded which condition the patient has, but also included wording which made doctors uncomfortable. This wording was in regards to patients receiving benefits from using medical cannabis and relief from their symptoms or condition. This new law removes all relief or benefit recommendations, and only has doctors certifying to the state that a patient has a specific condition. The state merely is left to confirm that condition is on the approved list. By removing the recommendation of benefits and relief, doctors will not be worried they are left out to dry for recommending a non-FDA approved medication or treatment. By going outside the FDA lines doctors would surely violate and nullify their malpractice insurance. This change in forms and doctor interaction are going to hopefully increase the number of doctors and hospitals willing to sign patient’s’ medical cannabis certification forms.

Do you think the state of Illinois is on the right track with these changes to the medical cannabis program? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook?

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Job Reinstated To Medical Cannabis Patient Fired For Failing Workplace Drug Test

Drug tests are exerting a strong influence on our society, effectively keeping medical cannabis just out of reach for the vast majority of ailing Americans who want to choose a new option. Otherwise law abiding citizens live with an ever-constant fear that they will lose their source of income and health care for failing a drug test at work. Did you know you can fail a drug test by eating poppy seeds, or taking over the counter medication? Most people have their lives built upon a foundation of revolving debt; driving cars they do not own, living in houses they do not own, going out to eat with borrowed money. Without the constant income to offset the constant drain, the majority of American’s lives would be wholly repossessed in a matter of months. To further exacerbate the manner, our income streams are commonly conjoined with our health care coverage. The exclamation point on this grim situation would surely be that unlike almost all other drugs, cannabis is detectable in our bodies long after use. The fear of failing a drug test is vastly amplified by the fact that cannabis can stay in a patient’s system so long. This results in a situation where patients have to put the fear of failing a drug test and losing their income and health insurance, ahead of the potentially life-saving medical benefits of treatment with medical cannabis.

Good news, sanity broke out recently in Oregon, when a legal arbitrator ruled that Michael Hirsch must be given his job as a senior programmer and systems analyst back by the Lane County Government. Not only that, but they are required to pay him $21, 550 in back pay for the six months he has been without a job. Hirsch had been fired after his coworkers reported him to the HR department for smelling of cannabis odor, and he was subsequently drug tested. The sanity resounds clearly in Arbitrator Jeffrey Jacobs ruling, which in his words was based upon “the fact that the county provided no evidence Hirsch had used marijuana at work or that his off-duty use hurt his job performance.” This was a bit of a unique situation as he was a member of a union, and his employment was built upon a library of contract regulations and policies. It was the strength of the union’s employee protections which ultimately provided him firm footing for a winning ruling to be grounded. What is common sense to most was luckily written in stone for Hirsch, his union contract stating specifically “disciplinary action may be taken for activities that take place outside of county premises on off-duty time only when the employee’s ability and effectiveness to perform his/her job is impaired.” While the county mandated a drug-free policy to qualify for Federal money, like many similarly motivated places across the country, it by some grace had installed in it a small window of opportunity for sanity to sneak through. This window was wording allowing an exception to the policy if a substance is taken under supervision by a licensed health care professional and “does not present a safety hazard or otherwise adversely impact an employee’s performance.” Like many court cases before it, the arbitrator echoed the American sentiment that the punishment must fit the crime, noting being terminated for use of medical cannabis “is far and away too harsh a punishment.” Similar to something Jimmy Carter famously said was most wrong with American policy on cannabis prohibition. Hirsch honestly urged his fellow Americans to have a calibrated perspective on the situation, “I can’t believe that, as a society, we’re going to criminalize people from taking medicine, especially related to life-threatening effects of cancer treatment.”

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Recently when Ohio was working their medical cannabis through the legislative process one legislator, Rep. Teresa Fedor, spoke on the conflict of the new legislation with the accepted standard of a drug-free workplace. Fedor viciously attacked the legislation for specifically protecting employers’ abilities to fire anyone who tests positive for cannabis use, even if they are medicating legally by working in a hand-in-hand partnership with their state government and health care provider. Going for the anti-workers top prize the bill takes the cake by denying unemployment compensation and worker’s compensation insurance coverage to legally state-approved medical cannabis patients who are terminated for failing a drug test. It is no surprise that Fedor feels “this is a cruel joke when citizens find out they have to leave Ohio to get a job.”

Sadly Illinois has some of the same provisions protecting employers’ rights to terminate fully-legal state-approved doctor-recommended medical cannabis patients. This is all the more reason why this ruling is so uplifting. Hirsh will now be allowed to return to his previous workplace, and rebuild his life. Jennifer Middleton, an Oregon employment attorney interviewed by the RG noted that this ruling may not result in widespread changes with regards to drug-free workplace policies because “so few employees are governed by unions to begin with and probably relatively few (of those) have contract language like this.” She did leave us on a positive note, reminding us that this “is a good example of an arbitrator looking to the facts of the case and seeing this particular employee wasn’t impaired, and so they shouldn’t lose their job. That’s a principle that other employers ought to take to heart.” It proves to me that our country is starting to turn the corner in its understanding and perception of medical cannabis!

I have personally been at cannabis patient events and heard patients speak about how their honest open communication with their employer lead them to officially change their workplace drug policies to allow a protection and exception for medical cannabis patients. Please consider being honest with your doctor and your employer about your desire to try medical cannabis.

Do you think Illinois legislators should pass provisions to help protect medical cannabis patients from unfair employment termination for failing drug tests? Have you worked with your employer to update their workplace drug policy? Let us know your thoughts below or on Facebook!

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NFL Players Tackle Negative Stigma Of Medical Cannabis

The NFL tried to ignore the topic of concussions, and now they are trying to do the same with medical cannabis. If you were not already familiar, the NFL for years ignored the reality that players were suffering concussions, and that those concussions are harmful to their physical and mental health in both the short and long term. Have you seen the movie Concussion, or the countless documentaries discussing CTE? It would seem like common sense that repeated blows to the head would cause brain damage in the long-term, but the NFL staunchly refused to accept this theory even when faced with sound scientific evidence. It took years of lobbying from all levels of society to get the NFL to enact protocols and acknowledge the link between head trauma and CTE. The NFL now has protocols in place during games to identify players who have been concussed, and treat these otherwise physically field-ready players as if they were injured, and not allow them to return to play. Players take hits not just to the head, but all over their bodies, making football a painful sport to play. Most couch-mounted football fans are not really able to grasp both the amount of pain, and the amount of painkillers on a football field during a game.

Eugene Monroe recently authored an essay on the topic of pain in the game of football, and to urge the NFL to take a fresh look at medical cannabis. In his own words he summed up football simply as “football is pain.” Another NFL player Nate Jackson was interviewed by Leafly and echoed the same, speaking to the fact that pain is part of the culture and “football guys are tough guys. They don’t tell you when they’re hurt. The guys who make it the furthest are the ones who endure it the best. That’s the culture. To move up the ladder, you don’t show pain.” Seems to me like a recipe for disaster to combine a sport which causes great amounts of pain with highly addictive painkillers.

If you are familiar with medical cannabis, then you already know it would be a great way for players to relieve pain, reduce opioid consumption, and hopefully prevent the damage of CTE from destroying their brains. Cannabinoids have been proven to act as a neuroprotectant, as all US citizens share in US Patent 6630507. This patent is specifically for “[…]cannabinoids [which] are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma[…].” Currently players are only handed means to dull their pain, with no measures being taken to prevent CTE in the long term. Monroe talks in his essay about how players line up prior to games and receive painkillers in a line called the “T Train”, which is “[…]nothing more than a bunch of really large guys waiting to pull their pants down to get shot in the butt with Toradol, a powerful painkiller that will help them make it through the game and its aftermath.” Ironically the same drugs which dull their pain will likely will prevent the natural cycle of life, and their ability to feel the pain from a new injury and stop playing.

Monroe put his money behind his mouth and donated $80,000 to researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania to study medical marijuana for NFL players. The NFL was uncharacteristically cordial with the researchers, and even requested a call to discuss the research. Marcel Bonn-Miller, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania was interviewed by The Washington Post and described the NFL participants as “[…]definitely showing genuine curiosity, and they are definitely not throwing up roadblocks.” Seems more to me like a public gesture than a real interest in supporting research. A University of Michigan professor named Daniel Clauw, who does researching comparing opiates to cannabis, was quoted in the same article attempting to provide a fresh perspective on cannabis, explaining “you put the two next to each other, and there really is no debate which is more effective to treat pain. You would go the cannabinoid route instead of the opiate route.” Chicago’s own Super Bowl winner Jim McMahon has been a long time advocate for medical cannabis. He spoke at a conference in New York recently on the benevolence of cannabis as compared to opiates, as there are “hundreds of thousands of people are dying from [painkillers] and there’s not one case of people dying from the hemp plant.”

Advocating for medical cannabis might be a risky move, as some reports have opined that Monroe was released by the Ravens as a direct result of his public medical cannabis crusade. This old coach was quoted on his feelings about Monroe’s advocacy, pseudo-threateningly drawing a line in the metaphorical sand saying, “I promise you, he does not speak for the organization.” That is about the farthest you could get from being supportive. Others have tried to explain his exit from the team due to more legitimate reasons. To most the influence that his advocacy had on the team’s decision would be an easy correlation, as many still know the bitterly negative stigma surrounding cannabis from first-hand experience. Monroe has inspired more players to join the medical cannabis movement, including Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan. I know that we are all hopeful for the day when the NFL openly admits there are other options for chronic pain than just opiates, and that there is something to be done today to prevent cases of CTE in the future.

Do you think that the NFL should support Eugene Monroe and research into using cannabinoids to treat chronic pain, and prevent and treat CTE? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!

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Cannabis Oil Massages – A New Touch

Receiving a massage from a professional is one of the most relaxing therapeutic activities a person can partake in. If you are interested in taking your next visit to the masseuse to a higher level, consider integrating a cannabinoid rich oil or topical cream into your next massage. You may have to visit a new spa, as not every business on the block has had time to catch up with the ongoing green rush. Both the SunTimes and WGN recently featured a local spa offering everyone-legal CBD massages to the public. Chicago is a bit behind the curve, as Allure highlighted this new craze in Colorado a year ago, and the Denver Post did so again recently.

Great news for everyone, the massages in Chicagoland use hemp derived CBD oil which is legal for everyone, including those who are currently not legal medical cannabis patients. This is because hemp derived CBD oil is legal under the law, similar to hemp seeds, as the product contains no THC. Be cautious of which hemp derived products you purchase, as there are a lot of imposters in the market. Even if the product contained THC, you would not feel the high or euphoric effects when the product is applied to your skin. This is because the chemicals are insulated from your bloodstream, and can only act upon the endocannabinoid receptors in located in the layers of your skin. So the short answer is no, you will not be getting high from your cannabis massage even if you’re a medical cannabis patient and you are using THC infused products with your at-home massage. Allure magazine noted the effects as “[…]something between a runner’s high and post-coital bliss.” The DP detailed the resulting feeling as “[…]the physiological equivalent of a Washed Out jam or Sigur Ros ballad,” and described the overall result as “[…]centered and straightened, corrected and focused.”

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Both Allure and the DP noted that the cannabinoids present during the massage simply allowed the masseuse to do their job to a better extent. DP detailed the effects saying, “[…]this THC-infused lotion is not a miracle potion. But it’s superior to any other lotion or oil I’ve encountered in previous massages. It felt like it enabled my massage therapist to do the work she was trying to do.” Allure echoed the same sentiment, “[…]it relaxes muscles so the therapist can go deeper without causing pain.” The pain relief of topical cannabinoids was reported in the SunTimes who spoke with some local recipients of CBD-massages. A construction worker interviewed noted the effectiveness of oil, “The CBD works great. Even though I don’t get massages all the time, I use the CBD topical ointment I bought at the spa. My hands and wrists get really sore as a drummer, and CBD works well for that.” The owner of the spa noted that she “[…]discovered the benefits of CBD after years of severe arthritis,” which affected her hands severely and she said she could “[…]barely bend my fingers.” When she was asked about the results of applying the oil to her hands she said “the results were fantastic.”

Have you used topical cannabinoid treatments? What were your results? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!

Cresco Labs offers cannabinoid infused topical treatments in dispensaries across the state. Click here now to locate the dispensary nearest to you!

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