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Former NFL Player Under Fire For Claiming CBD Can Cure Coronavirus

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Former NFL player Kyle Turley believes CBD can prevent and cure coronavirus—and he’s not backing down on that clinically unsubstantiated claim despite pushback from marijuana legalization supporters and prohibitionists alike.

In fact, he accused those advocates of cowardice, alleging in an interview with Marijuana Moment that they’re afraid of the consequences of spreading what he claims is the “truth” about cannabis. He also said he would welcome Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforcement against his CBD company over these COVID-19 claims and would use such an action as an opportunity to expose the government for covering up the medical potential of the plant.

In a series of tweets in recent weeks, Turley has repeatedly hawked CBD products, arguing that because the compound interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which plays some role in regulating the immune system, they can be used to prevent and cure coronavirus. He says he’s basing that take on anecdotal evidence, as well as conversations he said he’s had with experts in the field.

But the claim about a CBD coronavirus cure isn’t backed by clinical research. And at a time when there is no vaccine or approved treatment option available for the virus, advocates and experts say this kind of marketing is dangerous and could lead people to avoid conventional health care options, putting them at risk.

“The last thing the world needs in these difficult and often confusing times is someone with any level of celebrity using their public platform to sell their personal products on false promises and pseudoscience,” Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “Marijuana and its components do not cure the coronavirus, to say the opposite just to put a few more bucks in your pocket is grotesque. All Americans should be on alert for these modern day charlatans and snake oil salespeople.”

But Turley evidently is undeterred by the criticism. He tweeted on Sunday that “CANNABIS WILL PREVENT & CURE COVID19!!!!!!!” and acknowledged that the statement would elicit “hate.”

In a phone interview with Marijuana Moment on Monday, the athlete-turned-entrepreneur said he has “lots of reasons to believe what I believe and I will continue to proclaim god’s truth in this whole thing because he saved my life through this plant. Period.”

But it’s not a point taken well by allies and opponents of marijuana reform, who’ve widely condemned the claim.

“All I’m saying is that the immune system will kill the coronavirus if you give your immune system cannabis. It will boost it to its levels where it will kill the coronavirus,” Turley said. “In return, it is very feasible and logical for me to back my statements and say CBD will cure and prevent the coronavirus. Why wouldn’t it?”

Turley is promoting a line of CBD products from his company, NEURO XPF, with an ad using the slogan “Crush Corona” along with artistic renditions of the virus. FDA would likely take issue with that kind of advertising, as it’s made clear it will take enforcement action against cannabis companies that make unsubstantiated claims about the therapeutic potential of their products.

The agency has sent several warning letters to such companies over the last year, imploring them to cease making therapeutic claims that aren’e backed up by research.

But as far as Turley is concerned, FDA action would represent an opportunity.

“I welcome it,” he said. “Please shut my company down so I can have another blockbuster press release on how the FDA and the United States government is suppressing truth and information when we have study after study now being driven by major cannabis companies in getting clinical trials to prove what I’m saying is true.”

Several people have commented on Turley’s Twitter posts, encouraging him to stop spreading misinformation about the therapeutic potential of cannabis when it comes to the virus.

In another tweet, Turley appeared to claim that cannabis products are “the cure for cancer.”

The former NFL player also said on Sunday that he would mail free CBD to individuals who reach out with documentation showing that they’ve tested positive for COVID-19. So far, he said, only one person has reached out with a positive test, and that that Louisiana-based individual will receive a full month’s supply of CBD from his company NEURO XPF.

Advocates have been loud and clear that businesses should not promote misleading claims about marijuana in the midst of this pandemic. They’ve further recommended avoiding combustable marijuana products, as the virus targets the respiratory system.

Turley had a simple message for advocates who have rejected his claims: “Cowards. Cowards.”

“I’ve been putting in work on my own dime, on my own time, taking away from my family, to move this conversation forward. And that’s what I’ve done,” he said, adding that they’re “scared to say too much because we don’t want the government, we don’t want the man, to start coming down on us.”

“Well guess what? I was a first round draft pick, I made millions of dollars, god saved my life through this plant and I live in America. So get used to it,” he said. “And I’m going to continue to spread his word.”

DC Activists Have A New Plan To Get Psychedelics Decriminalization On The Ballot Despite Coronavirus

Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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State Of Montana Launches Online Hemp Marketplace To Connect Buyers And Sellers

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Say you’re a Montana farmer who has planted acres of industrial hemp. As harvest nears, you’re looking to offload it. Where do you go to find a buyer?

Montana’s Department of Agriculture says it has the answer.

The state this week announced the launch of an online “Hemp Marketplace,” unveiling an online portal meant to connect the hemp farmers with buyers in search of seeds, fiber and derivatives such as cannabidiol, or CBD.

“The Hemp Marketplace concept originated from the same idea as the department’s Hay Hotline,” the Agriculture Department says on its website, “only instead of hay and pasture, the online tool connects buyers and sellers of hemp and hemp derivatives.”

Listings are free of charge.

Montana online Hemp Marketplace screenshot

Montana Department of Agriculture

Montana farmers have embraced industrial hemp since the state legalized its production under a federal pilot program. The first legal crop was planted in 2017, and in recent years the state has led the country in terms of space dedicated to the plant. In 2018, for example, licensed farmers in Montana grew more acreage of hemp than any other U.S. state. While other states have since eclipsed the state’s hemp production—the crop became broadly federally legal through the 2018 Farm Bill—Montana remains an industry leader.

But to make revenue, farmers have to be able to sell their crop. That’s where the new hemp marketplace comes in. The online portal is essentially a sophisticated bulletin board for buyers and sellers, split into “Hemp for Sale” and “Hemp to Buy” categories.

“With hemp being a relatively new crop grown in Montana, the department recognizes that these markets are still developing,” Department of Agriculture Director Ben Thomas said in a statement. “The Hemp Marketplace was designed to help facilitate connections between buyers and sellers. I’m looking forward to seeing how the marketplace will continue to advance the industry.”

Listings include what type of products are on offer (or being sought), whether a given crop is organic and even whether laboratory testing data is available. The portal also organizes products into one of four varieties based on whether the hemp seeds have been certified by regulators. None of the products may contain more than 0.3 percent THC—the upper limit for what qualifies as hemp under both state and federal law.

Meanwhile, Montana voters are set to decide on Tuesday whether the state will legalize hemp’s more infamous cousin, high-THC marijuana. According to a poll released this week, passage looks likely: The survey, conducted by Montana State University at Billings, found that 54 percent of likely voters plan to support legal cannabis on the ballot. Another 38 percent said they were opposed, while 7 percent remained undecided.

At the federal level, officials at the Drug Enforcement Administration are still working to revise rules around marijuana and hemp to reflect Congress’s move to legalize hemp broadly in 2018. While the public comment on the proposals closed earlier this month, nine members of Congress cautioned the agency against adopting its proposed changes, warning some could put hemp producers at risk of criminal liability. Already a number of arrests and seizures have been made by law enforcement officers confused whether products were legal hemp or illicit marijuana.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), meanwhile, has faced separate criticism over its own proposed hemp rules, though it has been more proactive in addressing them. Following significant pushback from the industry over certain regulations it views as excessively restrictive, the agency reopened a public comment period, which closed again this month.

USDA is also planning to distribute a national survey to gain insights from thousands of hemp businesses that could inform its approach to regulating the market.

Montana Marijuana Legalization Ballot Measure Has Solid Lead In New Poll

Photo courtesy of Brendan Cleak

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Missouri Launches Medical Marijuana Sales At State’s First Dispensaries

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Less than two years after Missouri voters approved a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana, dispensaries made the state’s first cannabis sales to patients on Saturday.

N’Bliss Cannabis opened the doors of two separate St. Louis County locations, in Ellisville and Manchester.

“Missouri patients have always been our north star as we work to implement the state’s medical marijuana program,” Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said in a press release. “We greatly appreciate how hard everyone has worked so that patients can begin accessing a safe and well-regulated program.”

Officials have touted the speed with which they have gotten the voter-approved cannabis program off the ground, saying it is “one of the fastest implementations of a medical marijuana program in the United States.”

Via Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

“A tremendous amount of work has occurred by the licensed facilities and our team to get us to this point, and we continue to hear from more facilities that they are ready or almost ready for their commencement inspection,” Lyndall Fraker, director of the Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation, said in a press release. “We look forward to seeing these facilities open their doors to serve patients and caregivers.”

The impending launch of sales on Saturday was first announced by the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association on Friday and reported by The Springfield News-Leader.

The state, which has so far licensed 192 dispensaries and expects most of them to open their doors by the end of the year, posted an interactive map that tracks the status of approved medical marijuana businesses.

For months, regulators have been caught up in lawsuits and appeals challenging their licensing decisions, with revenues that would otherwise go to supporting veteran services instead being allocated to covering legal costs.

Missouri isn’t the only state to see medical cannabis sales launch this weekend. Virginia’s first medical marijuana dispensary also held its grand opening on Saturday.

Meanwhile, recreational sales of marijuana rolled out in Maine last week—four years after voters there approved a legalization ballot measure.

Another New Jersey Poll Shows Marijuana Legalization Passing By A Huge Margin

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Illinois Continues Record-Breaking Marijuana Sales Streak, New State Data For September Shows

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For the fifth month in a row, Illinois is again reporting record-breaking marijuana sales, the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced on Monday.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois has seen escalating cannabis sales month-over-month. In September, consumers purchased more than 1.4 million marijuana products worth a total of nearly $67 million. Almost $18 million of those sales came from out-of-state visitors.

In August, the total sales reached about $64 million—the previous monthly record. The new adult-use sales figures don’t include data about purchases made through the state’s medical cannabis program.

This latest data seems to support the notion that the state’s marijuana market is “recession-proof” and “pandemic-proof,” as a top regulator said in August.

Via IDFPR.

State officials have emphasized that while the strong sales trend is positive economic news, they’re primarily interested in using tax revenue to reinvest in communities most impacted by the drug war. Illinois brought in $52 million in cannabis tax revenue in the first six months since retail sales started in January, the state announced in July, 25 percent of which will go toward a social equity program.

“We were not doing this to make as much money as fast as we possibly could,” Toi Hutchinson, senior cannabis advisor to Gov. J.B Pritzker (D), said. “We were actually doing this for people,” with a focus on supporting communities most impacted by the drug war.

In May, the state also announced that it was making available $31.5 million in restorative justice grants funded by marijuana tax revenue.

That said, ensuring an equitable market as promised hasn’t been easy. Regulators have recently faced lawsuits after dozens of would-be social equity licensees were denied an opportunity to participate in a licensing lottery over alleged problems with their applications. The state said it would approve 75, but only 21 ultimately qualified—and critics complain that the resources it takes to submit an acceptable application creates barriers for the exact people the special licenses are supposed to help.

The governor announced last month that new procedures would be implemented allowing rejected applicants to submit corrected forms. But on Monday, three investors who are finalists from the initial round filed a lawsuit against the state, alleging that the administration’s decision to permit resubmissions was politically motivated and illegal.

For now, the out-of-state sales data seems to support Pritzker’s prediction during his State of the State address in January that cannabis tourism would bolster the state’s coffers.

Prior to implementation, the pardoned more than 11,000 people with prior marijuana convictions.

Over in Oregon, officials have been witnessing a similar sales trend amid the global health crisis. Data released in August reveals that the state saw about $106 million in medical and recreational cannabis sales, marking the third month in a row that sales exceeded $100 million.

Vote For Marijuana Legalization Referendum To Promote Social Justice, New Jersey Governor Says

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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