The Reefer

Thursday, July 7, 2016

How to make a cocktail using both legal and illegal varieties of grass

Posted By on 07.07.16 at 07:00 AM

After being challenged by Sammy Faze of the Drinkingbird and Billy Sunday to make a cocktail using grass, Brett Lichnerowicz of Luxbar did some urban foraging in people's yards "with or without their permission" to find some for his experiments. "There's so many varieties of grass—there's ryegrass, fescue grass, sweetgrass, bluegrass." Once he'd retrieved some samples, he says, "I steeped, I cooked, I pulverized, I muddled, I chewed. They all kind of taste like a green tea." He ended up using several in a simple syrup—lemongrass, ryegrass, and fescue grass, along with coriander, dandelion root, and burdock root—that "has a very strange flavor, like a green tea-lemon-poppyseed taste."

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Illinois set to expand its medical marijuana pilot program

Posted By on 06.02.16 at 05:01 PM

DUSTIN PARK / CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
  • Dustin Park / Chicago Sun-Times

Obtaining medical marijuana in Illinois has been anything but easy in the two and a half years since the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program was put in place. But a bill that would expand the program and address many of its current shortcomings is making its way to Governor Bruce Rauner, who has indicated that he intends to sign it.

Rauner and Illinois deputy house majority leader Lou Lang reached an agreement on the pilot expansion before the holiday weekend; the bill was officially voted through by the house and the senate Tuesday.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

The highs and lows of a marijuana 'trimmigrant': 'We'd roll blunts and roll joints and hit the bong and work all day'

Posted By on 04.11.16 at 02:20 PM

"It's tedious, and it's hard, but it's also fun caring for a plant and making a living,"  Gina Monique says of working as a marijuana trimmer. - MYKAEL LEIGH
  • Mykael Leigh
  • "It's tedious, and it's hard, but it's also fun caring for a plant and making a living," Gina Monique says of working as a marijuana trimmer.

Chicagoans is a first-person account from off the beaten track, as told to Anne Ford. This week's Chicagoan is Gina Monique, marijuana trimmer and advocate for the compassionate use of cannabis.

"I started smoking weed when I was a sophomore in high school. It made the day go by in a really interesting way. Then I started watching documentaries on the pot industry and learning about legal pot in California and Colorado, and I started to develop an interest in medical marijuana.  

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Security is tight at Modern Cannabis, Logan Square's first medical marijuana dispensary

Posted By on 02.23.16 at 09:00 AM

Modern Cannabis co-owner Doug Marks - KATIE CAMPBELL
  • Katie Campbell
  • Modern Cannabis co-owner Doug Marks

Just two minutes before the Monday grand opening of Logan Square's first medical marijuana dispensary, co-owner Doug Marks steps out of the space's Milwaukee Avenue entrance. The entryway is easy to miss—the word "moca," short for Modern Cannabis, is stamped on the door in bright yellow, pink, and blue, but the words nearly blend in with the mass of posters and graffiti that dominates the adjacent wall.

A slow trickle of people would follow, but it was hard to tell from the outside: anyone without a medical marijuana card—including the media—were barred from entering the dispensary's main floor.

"We don't want it to feel like it's a prison when you're inside, but. . . it does require a couple of steps to make sure you can be in there," Marks said. "It's more secure than a bank, essentially—anyone can walk into a bank."

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Andersonville's Dispensary 33 is officially licensed

Posted By on 11.20.15 at 01:50 PM

In two weeks, anyone with a medical cannabis card can come and get it! - BRIANNA WELLEN
  • Brianna Wellen
  • In two weeks, anyone with a medical cannabis card can come and get it!

After two years of preparation and jumping through multiple legislative hoops, Dispensary 33 received its official license to sell medical cannabis Friday. It's a big step for the dispensary—which opened its doors to the public last weekend—but there's still a lot to do before patients can start picking up their own supply: all staff members still need to be certified by the state, and patients need to fill out a "dispensary selection form" to register Dispensary 33 as their official dispensary as well as a boatload of other forms (like new patient registration).

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What a cancer survivor learned from Chicago's first medical marijuana dispensary

Posted By on 11.17.15 at 06:00 AM

Make and Company designed murals for Dispensary 33's clean, open space. - BRIANNA WELLEN
  • Brianna Wellen
  • Make and Company designed murals for Dispensary 33's clean, open space.

There were two things everyone asked me when I was first diagnosed with cancer: "Will you lose your hair?" and "Can you get medicinal marijuana?" The short answer to both of those questions was "yes." But when it comes to the issue of medical cannabis in Illinois, nothing is as simple as a one-word answer. The application alone requires three forms of ID, a current photo, fingerprints, a background check, a five-page physician approval form, and a $150 fee ($100 for the application, $50 for the fingerprints). While I recently finished treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, the symptoms of the disease and the chemotherapy continue for at least six months posttreatment. Here's hoping my application gets approved, because lucky for me, Chicago's first medical marijuana dispensary, Dispensary 33, is four blocks away from my house.

The Andersonville location (5001 N. Clark) held an open house over the weekend, the only time members of the public were able to explore the space. When it's fully operational, only patients with a medical marijuana card will be allowed in the dispensary. They will be required to sign in at the front desk and will then be buzzed into the main room, where product and accessories will be available. There won't be any marijuana available for about two more weeks, and edibles won't be available until January, but in the meantime the staff is available to help with the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program application. And the staff knows a thing or two about the application process; Dispensary 33 plans to hire staff members who are also patients, so they can legally try the product and properly inform customers.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

American Ultra is a real downer of an action comedy

Posted By on 09.03.15 at 01:30 PM

Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg in American Ultra
  • Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg in American Ultra

The trailer for American Ultra promised something like The Bourne Identity by way of Pineapple Express, with an aimless stoner (Jesse Eisenberg) discovering that he’s really a CIA-programmed killing machine with amnesia. That is in fact the plot, but the mood is far more melancholy than the trailer conveyed. American Ultra isn’t an exuberant action comedy like Pineapple, but rather a downbeat suspense film with jokey elements. (Screenwriter Max Landis is the son of director John Landis, and his ambitious, if unsuccessful, mix of tones suggests an update of his father’s noble failure Into the Night.) This could explain why the movie isn’t a hit—viewers might have felt deceived by the advertisements and told others to stay away. Also the film’s anti-pot message is likely a turnoff to all those stoners who went to see Pineapple in droves.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

State budget showdown puts criminal justice reforms on hold

Posted By on 07.16.15 at 07:30 AM

Governor Bruce Rauner has yet to act on a number of bills to reduce the incarcerated population. - CHARLES REX ARBOGAST/AP PHOTO
  • Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo
  • Governor Bruce Rauner has yet to act on a number of bills to reduce the incarcerated population.

Soon after Governor Bruce Rauner took office last winter, he sat down for a meeting with state rep Kelly Cassidy. She says Rauner asked if she would support his "turnaround agenda," a series of probusiness proposals that would, among other things, restrict union organizing and worker's compensation. Cassidy is one of the most liberal members of the General Assembly, and she says she explained to the Republican governor that her far-north-side district wouldn't support his "turnaround" plans.

But Cassidy noted that the two were of like minds on another issue: criminal justice reform. Cassidy wanted to ease penalties for marijuana possession, which lands thousands of African-American men in jail and prison each year, and Rauner had campaigned on his own promise to reduce the prison population.

"I had a very good conversation with him" about criminal justice, Cassidy says. "I told him, 'That's our sweet spot.'"

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Is state's attorney Anita Alvarez protecting public safety—or an obstacle to justice?

Posted By on 06.15.15 at 08:16 AM

Cook County board president Toni Preckwinkle (left) says states attorney Anita Alvarez (right) has a narrow and punitive approach to justice.
  • Al Podgorski / Chicago Sun-Times
  • Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle (left) says state's attorney Anita Alvarez (right) has a "narrow" and "punitive" approach to justice.
Not so long ago politicians were afraid of appearing soft on crime, and in many places they still are. But the landscape is shifting rapidly—to the point that everyone who wants to be Cook County's top prosecutor is promising to keep more people out of jail.

That was clear to me when I sat down the other day with Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle, who brought along a couple of aides, including her chief of staff, Kim Foxx.

Preckwinkle wanted to get the word out that Cook County officials have worked together to reform the jail and criminal justice system, which she often calls "the intersection of racism and poverty."

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Cook County state's attorney: Time to lay off the pot prosecutions

Posted By on 04.20.15 at 03:00 PM

Cook County states attorney Anita Alvarez says her office will start dropping charges against people caught with less than an ounce of pot.
  • Scott Olson / Getty Images
  • Cook County state's attorney Anita Alvarez says her office will start dropping charges against people caught with less than an ounce of pot.
Cook County state's attorney Anita Alvarez says she's not encouraging anyone to toke up.

But she also doesn't want to waste any precious green—that is, money—to target people caught with small amounts of marijuana. Plus, she can't afford to be left out as the politics of pot blow past her less than a year before she faces a potential reelection fight.

And so it was that the county's top law enforcement official announced Monday that her office will stop prosecuting people picked up with an ounce or less of cannabis.

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