Talking Weed with Ryne Sandberg from a Dispensary (EXCLUSIVE)

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How strange is 2021? It’s weird enough that Chicago Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg, one of the greatest second basemen of all time, is now an endorser of cannabis products. The first ballot hall-of-famer is truly the genuine article, so when he’s a pitchman for a product or service, it’s something he authentically believes in.

Sandberg is as wholesome, clean-cut, All-American as it gets, and that has not changed with his now working for Verilife, a Chicago based company and division of Pharmacann. Sandberg made a public appearance at the Gold Coast dispensary on May 23rd, in which the store was running a 23% off sale in conjuction with the immortal #23’s appearance.

The whole vibe was very chill, just as one would expect for an event held at a marijuana dispensary. It was a beautiful summer day, perfect time for an exclusive conversation with a 10 time All-Star, nine time Gold Glove, seven time Silver Slugger and 1984 NL MVP.

The outdoor meet-and-greet was the right opportunity to hear a first ballot hall-of-famer discuss how the legalization of marijuana has changed his outlook completely. The 61-year-old is originally from Spokane, Washington, a state that was well ahead of the national curve when it comes to the issue of legal weed.

Life after baseball (Sandberg also works for the Cubs owned, in partnership with Sinclair Broadcasting, television apparatus, Marquee Network) provided Ryno the opportunity to meet the right people in this booming industry, and get involved in its growth.

With legalization, dispensaries are popping up all over the place these days, and it’s the educational aspect where Ryne Sandberg comes in.

He said that he’s striving to tell the public what these products are all about, what they do and what they don’t do, so that they aren’t just randomly going in and buying things without having the requisite knowledge.

Sandberg became knowledgeable and aware of the good weed later in life and from this vantage point, he said that the responsibility side of it is what he’s most focused on.

As he emphasized, a couple times during our conversation, the legality aspect had everything to do with his later in life awakening on cannabis substances.

With Ryne Sandberg that interest comes off as the genuine article, completely different from Jim Belushi, another Chicago superstar who “discovered” the pot business in middle-age.

With Belushi, it all seems a bit overdone, like he’s trying too hard (just like in some of his film and tv roles). Sandberg comes off more down to Earth, grassroots, if you will.

Like the rest of us, he said he was offered it throughout high school and his youth/young adult years, but he consistently abstained. I asked him if pot was big in Major League Baseball when he played, and he said no, or least not that he was aware of. He said there was so much drug testing that guys who were on the ball and focused stayed clear of it all.

He then brought up how during the last few years of his career, there was heightened testing, and a shift in the focus of that testing. I assume he meant Performance Enhancing Drugs.

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Marijuana is certainly not a PED, unless the individual performance you’re seeking to enhance is binge-watching the comedy of Jim Breuer or consumption of Funyans.

With legalization, we’re in a brave new world now, and Ryne Sandberg will certainly not be the last 1980s and 1990s superstar athlete to plant himself in the pot trade. I’ve interviewed Ryne Sandberg before Sunday, a few times, but doing so at a fan event was a much better vibe, and certainly more fun, than at a press conference.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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