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Chicago conference highlights medical marijuana

by Will Schutt
May 29, 2014


Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Wellcome Images

The cannabis sativa plant, source of both marijuana and hemp.


Will Schutt/Medill

Some of the materials available at the preliminary press event on the cannabis conference.

Related Links

The Chicago Cannabis Conference website

Cannabis Conference at Navy Pier June 7-8

The Chicago Cannabis Conference will be held from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 7, and from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday, June 8, at Navy Pier. It is open to the public and costs $15 for a day pass and $25 for the weekend. 

What conditions does cannabis treat best? What potential side effects does it have? When and where will you be able to fill a prescription?

The 2014 Chicago Cannabis Conference will answer these questions, featuring experts, advocates, and businesses speaking about issues ranging from the medical uses of marijuana to how to cook and make juice with pot.

The conference, presented by “My Compassion,” a Michigan-based nonprofit advocating the use of medical marijuana, takes place June 7-8 at Navy Pier.

The conference brings together a wide variety of cannabis advocates, related enterprises and experts, including panels on medical cannabis gathering together doctors, attorneys, patients and nonprofits.

At a preliminary press conference about the event, Herman Toney, a doctor and medical cannabis advocate, said “there has been tons of research showing the benefits of medical cannabis.”

At the conference, Toney will be joined by medical and scientific panels including Dr. Rob Streisfold, a doctor in naturapathic medicine, Dr. Robert Hicks, a pediatrician, and Dr. David Ostrow, a cannabis researcher. The conference also includes panels where patients with brain cancer, leukemia, Crohn's disease, epilepsy and other conditions will speak about their experiences with medical cannabis.

In Illinois, these chronic conditions are among the 40 and growing illnesses that can be treated by medical cannabis.

According to My Compassion, there are now new strains of the cannabis plant which contain low amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana use, and higher amounts of the non-psychoactive compounds found in cannabis. “Patients gain all of the benefits of the plant with little or no feeling of the high THC produces.”

According to Denise Macafee, a spokeswoman for the company HempMeds, the conference also will “help dispell a myth about hemp oil.” Hemp oil is legal in all 50 states, and HempMeds' products contain little or no THC.

On Aug. 1, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. The law allows physicians to recommend the medical use of marijuana for any of 40 specified medical conditions; this list may be expanded as groups lobby to include other conditions.

These patients will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana from an authorized dispensary if they apply for and receive a registry identification card.

The Compassionate Use Act went into effect Jan. 1, although dispensaries are still being set up.

The Chicago Cannabis Conference will be held from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday, June 7th, and from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday, June 8. It is open to the public and costs $15 for a day pass and $25 for the weekend.