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Medicinal marijuana battles stigmas and state bureaucracy

  • Written by Joe Boyle

When marijuana was discussed several years ago as a means to alleviate pain for people who are suffering a variety of debilitating illnesses, there were a few snickers. The use of marijuana is nothing new although many of us link it to the 1960s when many people began to try it.

I attended a workshop back in September to inform the residents of Worth about the misconceptions of medicinal marijuana. Obviously, the community was at least interested in hearing from the representatives of Windy City Cannabis, which was going to manage the medicinal marijuana dispensary in the village.

Worth Mayor Mary Werner and other officials spent nearly two years to convince residents that the future employees of the dispensary are going to be good neighbors. Of course, Worth officials also believed that having the medicinal marijuana dispensary would eventually be profitable.

I believe that is still the case. Residents once thought that the building would attract drugs and an increase in crime would occur. The dispensary has been open for just over three months and no problems with the community have occurred.

But while Worth has accepted the fact that medicinal marijuana is available to treat ailments, apparently preconceived beliefs are hampering the treatments. Werner touched on this during a Chicago Ridge Worth Chamber of Commerce luncheon in which she is concerned that the facility will not remain open unless Gov. Rauner can help loosen the restrictions on what illnesses can be treated.

Illinois has some of the strictest regulations on what can be described for medication. Werner even put in a call to Rauner’s office to see what he can do. She is still awaiting a return phone call. Werner said that 5,000 people have signed up to receive medicinal marijuana. The goal at this point was 10,000. Steve Weisman, the CEO of Windy City Cannabis, said the figures are below where they should be.

However, in a story that appeared in our April 7 edition, Weisman said that in his mind the program is still a success. He mentioned of talking to people who had tears in their eyes because the pain they had been suffering had been alleviated after taking a prescription. Weisman talked about a quadriplegic, who after treatments, could actually move his toes.

Weisman points out that medicinal marijuana is not a cure for these ailments. But those testimonials have Weisman confident the program will draw more participants. The problem is that previous Gov. Pat Quinn had a different viewpoint than Rauner. I can’t specifically say why Rauner seems less than enthusiastic about the program. Perhaps he does not see the project as bringing in lots of money. I also believe it was another way for Rauner to stick it to Quinn, who approved of the program.

Illinois law already has 39 conditions and diseases that already qualify for medicinal marijuana use with a doctor’s signature. Cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis qualify.

Conditions that have been rejected by Rauner are anorexia nervosa, chronic postoperative pain, Ehler-Danlos syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and migraine headaches.

I realize some people have their doubts about medicinal marijuana. But I cannot understand why Rauner and his mostly hand-picked board would object to something that can help relieve the throbbing pain of migraine headaches, for instance

The other obstacle facing Weisman and Windy City Cannabis employers is that many doctors are resistant to sign for their patients who request medicinal marijuana. Some of these physicians believe that to do so could be interpreted as reckless by critics of medicinal marijuana. Again, the stigma attached to cannabis is still prevalent.

But there is some good news. Illinois medical marijuana shops had their best month yet in February with nearly $1.5 million in sales, bringing total retail sales to more than $4.4 million since the program began Nov. 9.

A program director said that registered dispensaries served 3,042 patients during February. Marijuana wholesalers pay a seven percent tax to the state. The wholesale sales reported indicate growers paid roughly $83,000 in taxes in sales for February. Concentrates and edibles became more widely available, contributing more than $362,000 to total February sales.

I think that prescription rates will pick up in Worth as well. The one suggestion I have is that perhaps through their website or by advertising, it should be noted that Windy City Cannabis is located at 11425 S. Harlem Ave. in Worth. More information can be obtained at WindyCityCannabis.com.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Learning life’s lessons and value of dollars and ‘sense’

  • Written by Claudia Parker

Claudia-NEW

 

 

I’ve been working on teaching my 8-year-old daughter, Donae, fiscal responsibility. She’s developed a liking to saving money, which had just about filled her baby-bottle shaped, bank. I felt it was time we take a field trip over to the ole’ brick and mortar bank so she could make her first savings deposit.

Together, Donae and I tallied every penny, nickel, dime and quarter and packaged them into the appropriate coin wrapper. “Wow, I’m rich,” she said. “If you need to borrow money for the taxes, I can help.” This statement came as a result of her eavesdropping on me telling my husband, Don, it's almost becoming too expensive for us to continue living in Illinois. “Mommy doesn’t need your money. That’s for you,” I explained. “C’mon, I’m taking you to the bank so your money will be more secure.”

I grinned elatedly. I pulled the deposit slip from its slot in the bank lobby. It was one of those “Mommy moments.” I felt I was doing well. “Write your name here,” I instructed. “Once you’re done, you’ll need to fill in your account number and deposit amount.” She filled out the form as requested and we stood in line. A smiling bank teller requested we step forward and Donae hoisted her loot onto the counter, pushing the deposit slip behind it. I stroked her long pigtails as the teller counted the loose change, rolled coin and paper money totaling $74.36. “And here you go,” said the teller, as she handed Donae her deposit receipt.

Donae's reaction caught me by surprise. Stiff as a statue she stood, with not a peep. I was a bit embarrassed that she wasn’t reciprocating the teller’s expression, which beamed, just as I, knowing this was her first ever bank transaction.    

“Well? What do you think about your first ‘real’ banking experience?” I asked, completely puzzled.

She bit her bottom lip and raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know how to feel?” she questioned. She handed the deposit receipt to me as if she’d just been duped. “I gave her ALL my money and all she gave me is this piece of paper?”

When I was growing up, the finances I understood was that my mom’s money stack was much shorter than the stack of bills. “Overdue” was stamped across most while others read, “Collections Department.” Just when I’d think our situation couldn’t become more severe, we’d slump into a further state of destitute. I was a little like Donae. I looked at what I saw and felt like I was being duped. Ours was a life of day-to-day struggle. My mom couldn’t provide the bare necessities, let alone luxuries like new clothes and school supplies on the first day of school. I was disappointed and often judged her unfairly for the life she couldn’t provide. My self-righteous judgement began to shift as I matured. I came to realize later in life that my mom gave me something far more valuable than money when she taught me how to have faith. “The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

As told in my memoir, “Becoming a Mother While Losing My Own,” I recall one evening near dinnertime my mom having nothing to feed me and my three siblings. Yet, mom said, “Claudia, go set the table.” I was thinking, “For what? The fridge is clearly empty.” But since I had the type of mother you didn’t talk back to, if you wanted to keep your head on straight, I complied.

But this was no joke. Within an hour a woman from our church came walking up to our door with bags filled with groceries. “Sorry for dropping by unexpectedly, but the Lord laid it on my heart to bring these items to your family,” she said.

That blew my mind. That was the first of several miraculous experiences I witnessed firsthand as a result of my mother having the audacity to believe her circumstance would change.

Is Donae’s logic really that uncommon?

Don’t most of us believe more in what we can see than that of which we cannot? In time, she will learn that keeping her money in the bank isn’t only a better option because it’s more secure, it will also accrue interest, thus putting her at a financial advantage. A simple lesson, but sometime I suppose it can be difficult to understand the benefit that comes with trusting another source.

Are you giving life everything you’ve got and finding the reality you hold in your hands to be less than a fair exchange? What would happen if you dared to believe more in what you hoped for rather than what you were experiencing? I wonder who might come strolling up to your doorstep, “figuratively or literally,” to share what the Lord laid on their hearts to do for you?

If you’ve experienced a faith manifestation, I’d love to hear about it. Connect with me at www.ClaudiaParker.net and click “Contact the Author” tab.

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.  

 

Experiencing all the seasons in one day

  • Written by Joe Boyle

If you don’t like the weather in Chicago, just wait a while. We have all heard that old saying. But the longer I live here, the more I realize that old saying really does apply.

The weather on Saturday had to be the strangest I have ever encountered. I woke up in the morning and began preparing my breakfast as the coffee brewed. I saw that the sun was out so I figured the temperatures were not that bad.

But as I took a few sips of my first cup of coffee, I noticed that the sky suddenly grew dark as the clouds rolled in. A few minutes later, it was apparent that some snow flurries were falling. Now, that is not unusual In the Chicago area. Hey, just a couple of weeks ago I dedicated a column to the city’s eccentric weather patterns.

But while the wind whipped up and the snow fell, suddenly the sun came out. The temperatures got a little warmer as I drifted outside for a few minutes. At this point I’m thinking that the weather is going to clear up. I was wrong again.

By the time I finished my breakfast and had a couple cups of coffee, the dark clouds rolled in again. More snow flurries were coming down once more. I may not have noticed this odd weather so vividly but since I was helping moving items from a nearby condominium, I could not help but notice. During the early afternoon, I arrived at my destination only to notice that the dark clouds again swooped in and was quickly followed by snow. But this time it was much heavier. It was a combination of hail and snow.

The snow was coming down much harder. Within about 10 minutes, there was about an inch of snow on the ground. Entering and leaving the condo I was greeted by high winds as well. And the amazing thing was that within 20 minutes, the sun again came out as the dark clouds rush past. The one inch of snow that had fallen melted away.

This weather pattern continued throughout the day. On several occasions I felt warm in my coat, especially when I was driving in my car and the sun was shining. It was time to put on my sunglasses to take away the glare. And then it happened again. The sun disappeared behind some dark clouds. Now I was familiar with the drill. A few minutes later, the snow began to fall once more. I didn’t need my sunglasses anymore. Well, at least for 20 minutes or so.

This weather pattern continued through the late afternoon. I have never seen anything like it. The weather finally settled on just being cold at night.

In my previous column, I mentioned that I don’t put my scraper in my car trunk until May. I actually had to wipe some snow off my car windshield on Saturday. If I was 

patient, the sun would have come out and melted the snow. Temperatures were still cold on Monday. While I was working, I noticed snow flurries were falling again.

Well, it did not snow on Tuesday but I did have to scrape ice from the front and back windshields of my car during the morning. So, I bring my coat and even gloves to work even though we are in April. We have had snow in April before and we will again.

I can recall watching baseball games when it snowed. I remember one game in particular at old Comiskey Park in the early 1970s as Terry Forster pitched for the White Sox in an extra-inning game. I don’t remember the details, just Forster throwing from the stretch as snow was falling and blowing around the field.

Another time I can recall either in eighth grade or freshman year snow falling lightly to the ground as I hung out with friends near 95th and Loomis in Chicago. I do recall that the grass was covered with snow, enough to make some small snowballs.

Since experiencing this odd weather the past few days, I thought I would look up some information. O’Hare Airport has more snowy days, 28.5 days a year, according to Weather and Science Facts. Midway Airport averages 26.7 snowy days. However, Midway Airport has more snowfall, about 37.1 inches annually.

We know that better weather is on the way. I mean it can’t snow in May, right? Well, the latest the Chicago area has experienced accumulating snow was May 3, 1907. One inch of snow fell.

I don’t have my shovel on the porch anymore. However, it’s close by in the garage.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Cubs look for more magic while Sox look to surprise

  • Written by Joe Boyle

 

April begins tomorrow and that is no joke. Baseball is just around the corner for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.

And in the spirit of opening day (or in the case of the Cubs and White Sox, opening nights this Monday), I have two quiz questions for you.

We all know about Kyle Schwarber’s massive home run in game four of the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. But who did Schwarber hit the home run off of?

The White Sox broke an 88-year drought with a sweep of the Houston Astros in the 2005 World Series. Sox fans know that Geoff Blum hit a pinch-hit homer in the 14th inning to lead them to victory at Minute Maid Park in game three. But who was the winning pitcher of this five hour, 41 minute marathon that lasted 14 innings? And who got the save?

The answers to the quiz questions will come at the end of this column.

The Cubs have created a buzz since their amazing finish in 2015. The Cubs finished third with a 97-65 record behind Pittsburgh (98-64) and St. Louis (100-62). All three teams had outstanding seasons. But the Cubs were the most amazing, defeating the Pirates in a Wild Card showdown. The Cubs then toppled the Cardinals in the National League Division Series.

Yes, the dominant starting pitching of the New York Mets and the hot bat of second baseman Danny Murphy ended the Cubs season in the NL championship series. But the Cubs had a long list of highlights, including Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta and Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant. But maybe the most valuable commodity is Joe Maddon as manager. The Manager of the Year dug deep into his bag of tricks that included magicians and animals in an attempt to keep the Cubs loose. He did this frequently as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.

However, when you haven’t won a World Series in over 100 years and counting, the expectations become greater. After five years of last-place finishes, the future is now for the Cubs. To solidify the starting staff, the Cubs signed gritty veteran righty John Lackey, who was with St. Louis last season. Lackey has won World Series titles with Boston and the then Anaheim Angels. He is a hard worker who enjoyed a strong season with the Cards.

Add Jason Heyward to the Cubs outfield. Dexter Fowler surprisingly resigned with the Cubs to give them a strong outfield. Arrieta, John Lester and John Lackey will anchor the staff. Kyle Hendricks has also been outstanding this spring on the hill. The bullpen appears solid as long as Hector Rodon continues to do well as the closer.

Starlin Castro has been sent to the Yankees for starter and reliever Adam Warren. Schwarber will split time in left with Jorge Soler, for now. Fowler will patrol center and Heyward in right. This team has depth at several positions. All-purpose Ben Zobrist, who won a World Series with Kansas City, will mostly play second. Addison Russell is the shortstop, Bryant is at third and Anthony Rizzo at first.

One concern for this team is the hype. Many magazines are not only predicting the Cubs to win the division, they expect them to win the World Series. That can be a heavy burden to bear. Injuries can occur and players can have slumps. It will be up to Maddon to spread some more magic.

The Chicago White Sox are hardly receiving the same fanfare, but that’s OK with Robin Ventura, the team’s skipper. Actually, USA Today predicted the Sox would win the American League Central. That seems a little surprising since the Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 2015.

The Sox appeared ready for an overhaul before management again decided to plug some holes and compete. The White Sox traded for third baseman Todd Frazier, who brings some swagger, a good glove and power to third base. This meant recently acquired Brett Laurie moves to second base. Both players bring an attitude that was missing from the laid back Sox. Shortstop Alexis Ramirez and his inconsistencies have left town to be replaced by veteran Jimmy Rollins and Tyler Saladino. Both shortstops will get playing time. After all, Rollins is 37 but has had a great spring. Jose Abreu is back at first and will continue to put up great numbers.

Travis Ishikawa, a playoff batting star for the Giants in 2014, can play first and outfield. The outfield now has reliable Austin Jackson in center, which pushes Adam Eaton mostly to left. Melky Cabrera will play left, right and DH. Avisail Garcia looks more alive this season and may tap that potential in his second full year. With the departure of Adam LaRoche and his son, the DH spot can be split between these outfielders.

The White Sox have solid starters in Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon. Jon Danks and Mat Latos are question marks. The bullpen is deep and potentially great.

The White Sox will contend but we still like the Royals. The Cubs still have to play the games and defeat the Cardinals. This promises to be an interesting season on both sides of town.

Oh, those quiz questions. Schwarber launched his bomb off Cardinal reliever Kevin Siegrist. Damaso Marte, who got into manager Ozzie Guillen’s doghouse, was the winning pitcher in that World Series game. And Mark Buerhle actually got the save.

It’s time to play ball.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

Spring is here, even if we missed its arrival

  • Written by Joe Boyle

 

Many of us probably missed it on Saturday night, especially if you were out socializing. But come to think of it, even if you were sitting on the couch watching “Saturday Night Live” you may have been unaware that something has occurred.

At 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, spring was officially in the air. Yes, spring is here. It just arrived at a peculiar time. We had a sunny day that saw the temperatures drop to about 37 degrees at night. That sounds about right for our springs.

And what constitutes the beginning of spring? The vernal equinox, or the arrival of spring, essentially means that the sun’s direct rays are crossing over the equator from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere. During the equinox, nearly equal amounts of daylight and darkness are experienced throughout the world.

Equal amounts or light and darkness should be experienced every day in spring. But of course, we live in the Chicago area. Many of those spring days remain dark. A typical spring day here features temperatures in the mid-40’s with rain or a constant drizzle. We were expecting some rain this week. That is not an unusual occurrence in many parts of the country at this time of the year.

The cold, damp temperatures we could do without. Hey, I realize we have gone through a mild winter by our standards. We had a few cold days in January and February. We expect that. We had some snow but not all that much. I believe the largest amount of snow we had was in November. But that melted before we served our Thanksgiving meals.

December was anything but frightening. The weather was pretty mild all month.

Does this mean we will have a spring without snow or freezing rain? I’ve been here all my life so I know there are no guarantees. But the weather pattern would suggest that temperatures will continue to be mild. The sun is out as I bang away at my keyboard. I believe we all feel a lot better when we can see the sun a lot more.

We have not had a cold or snowy winter. Yet, I look forward to spring even if I know it’s not always going to be warm. I still take precautions because of the uncertainty of Chicago area springs. I still have a shovel on my front porch -- just in case. I still have my windshield scraper in the back seat of my car. I have had to use that scraper in April. Why bother putting it in the trunk too soon?

Neighbors tend to hibernate during the winter, it seems. I’m beginning to see more people walking down the block. Some kids were actually playing baseball just the other day. That would indicate that spring has arrived.

We are in late March and what that means to me is even if it does snow, it won’t be around that long. We have had temperatures in the 60’s a few times already this month. I think that means that temperatures in the 70’s can’t be that far behind.

I can’t say I remember spring days when I was a kid. I think we usually choose to remember the good times. During my youth in Roseland, I walked from 100th and Michigan to 102nd and Vernon to St. John De La Salle School. That was just over a mile. I do remember wearing my coat on many of those spring days. The mornings were a little chilly. It became a little easier when our family moved to the city’s Washington Heights neighborhood when I was in the fourth grade. I only had to walk two blocks to school after that. So, even the cold days weren’t so bad.

Spring brings with it a lot of expectations. Even kids can get tired of winter, especially when it continues to drag on. Easter is this Sunday and it symbolizes new life. We know that April is just around the corner. For kids, that means they are getting more anxious because they know the school year will soon be coming to a close.

For us adults, the mornings are not as bleak and cold. We may even be leaving for work and can see the sun.

But don’t put those coats away yet. We have been fooled before. But we do know that winter is gone and spring is here. And baseball is just around the corner. But that’s a column for next week.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .