Retired NFL player Rob Gronkowski, a star of the New England Patriots, has inked a deal with Abacus Health Products in Woonsocket, Rhode Island that includes buying a stake in the company and agreeing to promote its products.
His decision reflects his belief that CBD products made by the company under the brand CBDMEDIC can help others manage pain the way it has helped him.
At a news conference announcing the deal, Gronkowski - known as “Gronk” to legions of Patriots fans - said he used CBDMEDIC and was “blown away with how well it worked. I am pain free, and that is a big deal.”
Cannabis is effective in dealing with pain.
Although just 30 years old, Gronkowski retired from football in March 2019. Both he and Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback who decided to retire in August at age 29, are seen as a potential new trend of players leaving the NFL early because of injury.
“I needed to recover. I was not in a good place.” the former tight-end said at the news conference, according to video from CBS Boston. “Football was bringing me down, and I didn’t like it.”
Gronkowski said a series of injuries made him decide to retire while still young. He also said CBD would have helped him deal with injuries during his career. The use of any marijuana-related products, including CBD, is banned by the NFL.
That ban extends to CBD even though most of the products, including the ones from CBDMEDIC advocated by Gronkowski, are made from hemp and do not contain THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets you high.
Athletes are turning into advocates.
Gronkowski is the latest in a string of athletes and celebrities who advocate the use of CBD after trying it themselves. It’s an industry that already has attracted all-time greats such as Joe Montana, who has invested in a medical marijuana company.
Even the typically conservative NFL has considered lifting its ban on the use of medical marijuana by players for pain management when they craft a new collective bargaining agreement for the 2021 season.
Dr. Murdoc Khaleghi, a senior medical advisor for Elevate CBD, said that decision is partially being driven by ex-athletes like Gronkowski.
“Gronk's testimony is just another in the growing list of elite athletes who have found CBD to be helpful in pain, inflammation, and recovery,” Khaleghi said. “The inflammation of stressed muscles and joints can significantly limit the capabilities of athletes by increasing pain and prolonging recovery.
Khaleghi said that CBD has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. He said that for athletes, one of the primary attractions is that CBD has proven effective in “reducing pain and improving recovery.”
Gronkowski said part of his efforts will be lobbying professional sports leagues to change their policies. “I am here today to appeal to the sports governing bodies of the world to update their positions on CBD,” he said.
He later added, “It’s just time.”
1 week ago
There is something special happening in Northern California’s cannabis community. In one of the most unique growing regions in the world, farmers have been living off the land and growing this country’s cannabis for decades. Now, this inherently sustainable, craft cannabis movement is rising to the forefront of California and the United State’s cannabis industry, setting the landscape that promises to set the standard of sustainable, ethical, and natural agricultural practices. Cannabis is rooted deep in human culture: its earliest written reference stems from Western China about 500BC. Traditionally grown outdoors in the lush environment where the plant naturally thrives, growing indoors is a relatively new, energy intensive method of cultivation. As Michael Steinmetz, CEO of FlowKana, states: “Indoor is simply a relic of prohibition and a cultural phenomenon that emerges when farmers have to go into hiding to protect their livelihoods while they cultivate this amazing plant. Indoor cultivation produces 25 times more CO2 than outdoor grows, and are 70 times more energy intensive than commercial office buildings. To produce just one kilo of cannabis indoors is equivalent to driving across the country five times!” Even though outdoor grows are clearly more energy efficient, the divide between sustainably cultivating cannabis in California’s ubiquitous Emerald Triangle and industrial farming practices (think massive, industrial indoor grows, sucking energy and water out of the desert in Southern California) is growing ever deeper. This is at odds with consumer behavior: trends are showing that consumers want to invest in sustainable, authentic, and local businesses, leading us to question whether hefty investments in these desert grows harkens the impending doom this burgeoning industry. Why go vast and vacuous when consumers crave niche and nostalgia? The California cannabis industry is like no other. Though there’s millennia of history behind the plant, the process, and the people whose livelihoods depend on it, the corporatization of cannabis is still very much in its infancy. This is equally thrilling and daunting. There’s promise and potential to correct social stigmas and injustices, to negate environmentally harmful agriculture practices, and to promote a plant with universal healing qualities. There’s also ample opportunity for big companies to elbow in: corporations are oozing in, focused on the bottom line with little regard for honoring the plant’s history, purpose, and potential. Surprising no one, the California cannabis industry is picking up steam to become a race to the quickest buck, abandoning the rich history, potent healing potential and complex social realities of the plant to dry up in the desert dust. It is time to get back to the roots of this industry. I had the privilege of spending a hot August day with the Humboldt County Grower’s Alliance (HCGA). My goal was to absorb all that Humboldt County and its cannabis community had to offer — to talk to farmers, to smell their flowering plants, to indulge in the abundance of natural beauty that is their every day. As it goes, we started the day at the HCGA office in Eureka. Walking out the offices’ white wooden door, we readied ourselves to tour cannabis country. Driving down the 101 past Ferndale, we made our way towards the coast on Mattole road. There, we were treated to some of the most spectacular views along the Lost Trails of the Pacific Ocean. It felt like we had been transported to another world. From there, we cut back inland towards Petrolia. The grandeur of the Mattole Valley became more apparent with every sharp turn and steep hill we climbed in the Subaru. This valley has been the epicenter of California’s cannabis industry since it’s community fled north from San Francisco in the 1960s and 1970s to live off the land. It was incredible to witness it for the first time with my own eyes. “This wasn’t a profiteering machine, it was getting back to the land, being self sufficient, and growing some cannabis to help promote and fund a vision of community.” — Terra Carter, Executive Director of HCGA says. During one of the loudest and most volatile times in this country’s history, Humboldt County cannabis flourished in a community built on a back-to-the-earth ethos. Cannabis, among seasonal vegetables, herbs, and animals provided these communities and families the resources to live in such remote locations. What transpired over the next few decades in this valley sounds like it was ripped from a summer blockbuster. With the ineptly named War on Drugs came military aircraft humming over the valley. The US government flew two U2s over Humboldt to build their battle plan against farmers. This is the same spy plane they flew over the USSR. Helicopters buzzed through the valley searching for plants. Sometimes, they came so low that their noise and resulting vibrations would break windows and knock down houses. Humboldt was like a war zone, complete with a few farmers holding their ground by gun. Others hid in the woods or fled from their property with their families- some temporarily, and others permanently. As the raids continued farmers developed innovative ways to keep their community and livelihoods going: some started to grow their plants on platforms high in the trees, others constantly scanned the skies, ready to pull their plants back from the fields and under the cover of the forest at a moment’s notice. As we drove deeper into the valley, I began to see the lengths to which farmers went to set their roots, both familial and agricultural, as far out of reach as possible. Seclusion protected these families from the National Guard and from the bad players in the area taking plants, money, and whatever else they fancied by force. Though I met with people who were ostensibly breaking the law, I did not get the sense I was surrounded by criminals — because I wasn’t. Humboldt (like the rest of California, the USA, and the world) definitely has had their fair share of criminals in the industry, but for the most part this is a community of outlaws. They were never criminals. They simply did not have the legal infrastructure in place to run their business. It’s important to remember this distinction, especially since every person in the cannabis industry today is a federal outlaw. After driving for miles on dirt roads wrapped tightly around the mountain, we came across a signless intersection. We turned left up a steep one-lane road that we followed for a mile. At the peak we found cleared land and a single structure atop. “Welcome to DewPoint,” crowed the fearless, smiling Andelain. She and her husband are second and third generation farmers. They grew up overlooking the Mattole Valley and now live on a sustainable mountain property they built themselves. Nestled amid the mountains for a decade, their property relies entirely on solar energy for all of their electrical needs. Andelain likes to boast that her cannabis is fully sun-grown. Meaning, not only do they grow without any artificial lights, but even the water irrigation pump is powered by the sun. Andelain and her husband remember this mountain as a thriving community since their earliest days in the area. “It wasn’t just your parents raising you, but your neighbors, and the people at the school and fire department. This was the community our parents started building with their cannabis businesses, and the one we continue to invest in today.”- Andelain During the years of quasi warfare in the Mattole Valley, Andelain remembers the fear she felt helping in her family’s garden, where they grew vegetables, fruits, and cannabis. “My earliest memory was being in the garden and hearing the ‘copter coming down the valley and my dad running through the garden thinking ‘That’s weird I never heard my dad move like that’. I remember my dads arm swooping around my body and pulling me up and running into the bushes with his hand around my mouth. Men in armor with rifles repelled down, cut our plants, and flew away. After that, my family moved into town. We lost everything we had on that mountain” Now, Andelain has the opportunity to carry out her life’s long purpose and passion: to bring high quality medicine and peace to those who need it, legally. Pure as her mission is, it is accompanied with bureaucratic side effects. Unsurprisingly, California has some of the most extensive environmental laws in the country. To touch the land costs thousands of dollars in permitting and licensing. This is for good reason. California produces 17% of the country’s food and is constantly on the verge of drought. A state that is already reeling from the planet’s warming and is responsible for feeding nearly 1/5 of the country, it’s a sobering reality to consider placing an added burden on a state that’s already stretched thin on agricultural resources. Thankfully, California is taking some small but meaningful steps to abate this disaster. “Regulation has now given us the opportunity to be the most sustainably grown agriculture product in the world” says Carver. Most farms we saw in Humboldt have set up rain capture and storage containers to have water available throughout the dry months without needing to suck it out of aquifers. The special sauce of Humboldt County Cannabis that can’t be replicated or matched is it’s heritage. This growing region not only sprouted on off-the-grid farms- where all energy had to be produced on site and trash had to be at a minimum, with the closest garbage drop is sometimes 45 minutes away. But, it has also survived and evolved through military raids and environmentally disastrous moments. Humboldt has suffered. Their Redwood forests were indiscriminately leveled by industrial logging companies, while their rivers were overfished by commercial fishing companies. The community that lived off these lands did not stand for it. Several organizations, inside and outside the cannabis industry, banded together to protest these industries and their actions- one of which being the infamous 738-day tree-sit by Julia Butterfly. These industries decimated the environment- pushing the river’s salmon population close to extinction and polluting its waters with industrial runoff. After years of fighting for and implementing corrective policies and regulations, we were able to take a break in the heat of the day to go swimming in the now clear, crisp, and cool Mattole river. While the river and surrounding environment is healing itself, so to speak, this time around, there are no guarantees that nature can continually bounce back from the impact of big industry. I could see it in the way everyone talked about being able to swim in the river, that being able to dunk our heads into its crisp water, is a luxury that should never be taken for granted. To me, it was a sign that with dedicated advocates, smart policy, and responsible farming and business practices, supporting a cannabis industry in the region without impacting the environment is possible. With the California cannabis industry blooming in a world where the Amazon is burning, communities experience systemic water shortages, and corporations prioritize profit over people, there has never been a time where being an educated and active consumer is more important. Being a conscious consumer does make a difference: we are sowing the seeds from which the cannabis industry will continue to grow.
1 week ago
Mayor Jasiel Correia of Fall River, Massachusetts was arrested Friday morning for allegedly attempting to extort cannabis companies for hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, according to a CBS Boston report. Specifically, Correia — who is 27 years old — is accused of extorting at least four cannabis business operators by soliciting $250,000 each from them in exchange for “non-opposition” letters from his office. He is said to have illegally generated some $600,000 doing so, as well as alleged arrangements for a future cut in some of the companies’ cannabis sales. It’s the embattled mayor’s second arrest in less than a year: Correia was arrested in October on 13 federal fraud charges, which ultimately led to his recall — though the young Democratic mayor was re-elected shortly thereafter. Four other individuals have been charged as the mayor’s co-conspirators, authorities said. “Despite Mayor Correia’s public assurances to the city of Fall River, based on today’s indictment, he has essentially run that town as a pay-to-play institution. If the allegations in today’s indictment are true, Mayor Correia has engaged in a outrageous, brazen campaign of corruption which turned his job into a personal ATM.” — U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, during a press conference Correia appeared in federal court today where he pleaded not guilty; he was released in the afternoon after posting bail. “I’m not guilty of these charges,” he told reporters after leaving the federal court in Boston. “I’ve done nothing but good for the city of Fall River.” Correia is up for re-election this fall and intends to run. The primary vote is scheduled for September 17. Last month, the FBI announced it was seeking information about bribery in the cannabis industry.
1 week ago
The CDC is investigating at least 450 possible cases of vape-related illnesses in 33 states across the US. The illnesses have claimed at least five lives already. Business Insider put together a timeline of the spate of vape-related illnesses. Read more stories like this on Business Insider's homepage. The mysterious spate of vaping-related illnesses and deathscontinues to grow. On Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that at least 450 possible cases of vape-related illnesses have been reported in 33 states across the US. The illnesses have reportedly claimed at least five lives already, and doctors and other health experts fear their could be more on the way. "While the investigation is ongoing, CDC has advised that individuals consider not using e-cigarettes, because as of now, this is the primary means of preventing the severe lung disease," Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman of the CDC said on a Friday press call, reports Business Insider's Hilary Brueck. While it's not yet clear what exactly is causing these illnesses, it seems to affect younger people — mostly men — who are vaporizing cannabinoids like THC. The culprit, according to some experts, may be chemicals like vitamin-E acetate that are used to emulsify THC and CBD in illegal, unregulated vaporizers. "Even if most lung-injury cases are traced to chemicals used to emulsify THC or CBD into illegal vaping "juices," it doesn't let legally sold, nicotine-based e-cigs off the hook. They must do more to ensure safety of their products by engaging review process and ending youth use," Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, said on Friday. "Legitimate e-liquids are generally based on chemicals that are water-soluble, not oils that can cause acute lung injury. High levels of vitamin E acetate were found in nearly all cannabis-containing vapes tested by NYS Department of Health. Nobody should use illegal vape products," Gottlieb said. Here's what officials knew when. We'll update this as more information comes to light: August 17: In this Monday, June 17, 2019, photo, Joshua Ni, 24, and Fritz Ramirez, 23, vape from electronic cigarettes in San Francisco. Associated Press CDC officials say they are actively investigating almost 94 cases of vape-related illnesses in 14 states. That number would grow to 200 cases in 22 states. Officials haven't yet determined the specific causes of the illness, but it is thought that oils and chemicals used to emulsify THC, CBD, and nicotine in illicit vapes is to blame. August 23: FILE PHOTO: A man holds an electronic cigarette as he vapes at a Vape Shop in Monterrey Reuters The first vape-related death is reported in Illinois. The person, who has remained unnamed, was hospitalized with severe breathing difficulties, according to officials. He was reportedly using e-cigarettes to consume nicotine. September 3: Facebook/selectstrains Oregon's Health Authority says it is actively investigating the death of an individual with a severe respiratory illness following the use of an e-cigarette. While officials have not yet determined the root cause of the middle-aged person's illness, he had reportedly fallen ill after vaporizing marijuana oil purchased at a legal cannabis dispensary, reports The Associated Press. September 4: Enthusiast Brandy Tseu uses an electronic cigarette at The Vapor Spot vapor bar in Los Angeles, California March 4, 2014. Mario Anzuoni/Reuters Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, writes an editorial in The Washington Post urging federal officials to take action in investigating the causes of these illnesses and deaths. "Bright lines must be drawn between less-harmful ingredients and those that cause undue risk. That would arm regulators with the information to crack down on illegal and dangerous vape juices. It's also time to end the political ambivalence that allows THC and CBD to evade oversight," Gottlieb wrote. September 6: Ben Gilbert/Business Insider Indiana health officials confirm a third vape-related death. Shortly afterward, officials in Minnesota confirm a fourth, and then a fifth in California. Like the other deaths, officials have yet to determine a root cause. However, the 65-year old Minnesota man had a history of lung disease. He fell ill after vaping an "illicit" THC product, The New York Times reports. September 6: National Cancer Institute director Dr. Norman Sharpless. Wikimedia Commons Acting FDA Chief Ned Sharpless says "Our investigation into the concerning reports of respiratory illness and deaths associated w/ vaping is a top priority for FDA and our federal, state, local health partners. We're working tirelessly to gather and analyze information about these incidents," on Twitter. Sen. Minority Whip Dick Durbin pushed Sharpless to act quicker in a letter addressed to Sharpless on Friday.
1 month ago
SAN FRANCISCO—Unregulated cannabis vaporizer cartridges tainted with a potentially deadly lung toxin have hospitalized seven people with pneumonia-like symptoms in Hanford, California, officials there reported Wednesday. The cluster of tainted vape cart poisonings caused the Kings County public health department to issue a rare warning this week urging consumers to avoid buying cannabis e-cigarettes from unlicensed sellers. Street cannabis products are not subject to the rigorous testing that licensed products undergo in California. 'If you’re going to vape THC, get it from a licensed dispensary where you know there’s a certain amount of testing required.' Dr. Milton Teske, Emergency Room Physician, Adventist Health Hanford, California “If you’re going to vape THC, get it from a licensed dispensary where you know there’s a certain amount of testing required to do. It sounds like it’s going to cost twice as much as the stuff on the street, but you don’t want to end up in with a life-threatening respiratory condition,” said Dr. Milton Teske, a health officer with the Kings County Department of Public Health. Officials haven’t yet determined the cause of the lung illness, the public health warning says, but they’ve determined that all cases so far have involved cartridges purchased from unlicensed pop-up markets. Some think the cases could be tied to similar clusters of vape-related poisonings that have recently been reported elsewhere in the country. “Anyone that vapes THC they got off the street and has shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and trouble breathing—go to the ER and tell them you’re vaping, and have heard about this acute respiratory distress syndrome developing from that,” said Teske, who’s spent the last 35 years as an emergency room physician in the rural central California town of Hanford, where three patients remain in care at Adventist Health Hanford hospital. In the past 30 days, six people in their 20s and one 60-year-old have been hospitalized for severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (SARDS) at Hanford’s intensive care unit. Two patients had to be put on mechanical ventilation to save their lives. “If they hadn’t been intubated, they wouldn’t have made it,” Teske said. “And if it got any worse, they wouldn’t have made it.” Connecting Dots ‘Everywhere’ Teske suspects Hanford hospital pulmonologist Dr. Vishnu Bezwada identified a vape cart poisoning cluster that’s part of a rash of similar poisonings going on across the US. A Monday call with Centers for Disease Control and public health representatives from other states indicated a suspected cluster of 15 poisonings in Wisconsin, plus reports from Illinois, and Nebraska. “I think Dr. Bezwada is very astute and was the first to connect all the dots. Same with Wisconsin,” said Teske. “But there’s dots everywhere.” “I had heard about the midwest outbreak this weekend and called my relatives in Wisconsin who I know vape and told them to stay away,” said Josh Wurzer, founder of licensed California cannabis analysis lab, SC Labs. “It was only a matter of time until something like this happened with the black market vape cartridges.” ‘Something’s Going on Here’ Dr. Bezwada usually sees just one acute respiratory distress case per month in Hanford, population 56,499; and usually it’s an older person. But after diagnosing a couple young people with SARDS in June, followed by several more in July and August, he decided to call Teske. “He said, ‘Something’s going on here’,” Teske said. Bezwada had treated a series of young people with symptoms of hypoxia, a lack of oxygen in the blood, who got worse and worse. Two nearly died. All are now recovering. Teske and a Kings County public health investigator reviewed all seven case files and conducted follow-up interviews with patients in the hospital and at home. A common theme emerged—all had been using vape carts bought off the street around Kings County, in rural Central California. All reported doing it to save money. They were buying them at local, unlicensed pop-up markets, advertised by word of mouth. At these markets, vendors sell untested THC products that look similar to tested goods. The empty vape cartridges come in from China. Producers then fill the carts with raw THC oil cut with agents such as propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil, or more exotic chemicals. “Almost every patient had a different brand name,” said Teske. “And everyone had purchased it on the street.” Teske suspects the lung illness comes from an additive, though he’s not sure what. “Whoever is mixing it up in their garage, they’re adding other flavors, I suspect, or it’s how they’re diluting it. I suspect it’s some type of hydrocarbon.” Teske has ruled out other potential causes of SARDS, including other drugs, bacteria, or viruses. The patients were generally young—18, 22, some 27s, 34. One was 60. All had been consuming cannabis for six months or more, and some were heavy consumers who smoked every day. But long-term cannabis smoking is not associated with decreased lung function. The 60-year-old had been smoking cannabis for years, tried vape carts for the first time in her life, and developed the syndrome. Teske also thinks the poisonings are batch-specific. Some patients had been vaping THC regularly for two years before getting this bad batch. “I wouldn’t take anything from a pop-up store, or friends, or strangers off the street, because where did they get it? If it’s a good price, it’s coming from one of these questionable sources,” he said. “It’s too high a risk. Just because you got good stuff from him last week doesn’t mean this stuff is good.” ‘Just on the Edge of Surviving’ After repeatedly using a tainted cart, patients felt shortness of breath, weakness, tightness in the chest, and sometimes nausea. When symptoms got bad enough, they went to their primary care doctor or urgent care. Patients were usually misdiagnosed with pneumonia and sent home with antibiotics, but their condition worsened. Patients ended up in the ER, admitted with pneumonia, but disease workups and bacterial cultures revealed nothing. Their lungs looked terrible on MRIs—inflamed, opaque, and full of fluid, Teske said. The hypoxia got worse. Some patients needed to be strapped to a machine that forces air into their exhausted lungs. Two patients had to be intubated and mechanically ventilated. A major course of steroids stops the lung inflammation from this hypersensitivity-type reaction. Recovery generally takes one to two weeks in the hospital, at which point patients are sent home with steroids to heal further. What Could Be in Tainted Vape Carts? California leads legalization states in requiring all products sold at licensed stores to be tested for dozens of contaminants—most notably pesticides, residual solvents like hexane, and heavy metals like lead. But with untested products, said Wurzer, a wide variety of allergens, irritants, and toxins could lurk inside. After lab testing became mandatory in California in 2018, hundreds of products were flagged. To date, more than 5,169 batches have failed state lab testing for labeling or impurity standards. After inaccurate labeling, pesticides have been the biggest culprit. Lead has also popped up in cartridges. “We saw this with the heavy metal contamination issues in some vape cartridges when we switched to phase three testing,” said Wurzer. Wurzer is also seeing it in a type of popular tobacco vape pod called JUUL pods. “Again, this isn’t limited to black market THC cartridges, the e-juice nicotine vapes we’ve tested are consistently even worse for some contaminants.” The unlicensed cannabis market, which might be three times as big as California’s legal market, does not test at all. In recent years, public health officials have reported many cases of poisonings from adulterated CBD vape carts and CBD oils bought online or at truck stops. Labs have found cough syrup and dangerous synthetic cannabinoids in the unregulated mixtures. A significant portion of the country’s illicit cannabis supply chain would fail testing, but vape carts are an especially dangerous vector, Wurzer said. “Black market cannabis was a relatively safe product for so long because—outside of illegal pesticide use—it is hard or impractical to adulterate it to the point it’s going to lead to a public health issue. However with these vape cartridges, it doesn’t have to be nefarious, it can just be incompetence. You need to be very careful about the purity of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and any additives you use, but you need to monitor the quality of the materials used to manufacture the cartridges themselves.” 'You don’t want to trust your lungs with some chemicals someone mixed up in their garage!' Josh Wurzer, founder, SC Labs, California “You don’t want to trust your lungs with some chemicals someone mixed up in their garage!” Wurzer said. The Bureau of Cannabis Control is conducting a statewide public messaging campaign titled “Get #Weedwise” warning consumers of adulterants in the unregulated market. “This is the entire reason why we are running our get weed wise campaign. To educate the public about the importance of shopping from licensed retailers only. There are things out of your control when you decide to purchase cannabis from the illegal market. Your health is more important than cost,” said Alex Traverso, communications chief for the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. What’s Next? Teske obtained samples of the tainted carts from each affected patient, and the California Department of Public Health will lab test them, he said. On the national front, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to release a national public health bulletin to officials to be on the lookout for young, sudden acute respiratory distress syndrome (SARDS) sufferers who vape. Otherwise, these poisonings can be easy to miss. SARDS usually has a lot of other causes. “Any young person that comes in with even a mild respiratory ailment—primary care and urgent care needs to be asking about that,” said Teske. “If people look for it, they’re going to find it.”