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Logan Square pot pop-up offers CBD-infused cocktails, 420-friendly lectures

Bartenders making CBD-infused cocktails Saturday at the Yes We Cann pop-up in Logan Square. | Tom Schuba/Sun-Times

Bartenders making CBD-infused cocktails Saturday at the Yes We Cann pop-up in Logan Square. | Tom Schuba/Sun-Times

Hordes of marijuana industry insiders and others flocked to a Logan Square pop-up bar earlier this month to sip CBD-infused cocktails and hear presentations about all things pot.

The Yes We Cann event ran from Oct 5-7 at Emporium Popups, 2367 N. Milwaukee Avenue. The festivities were hosted by the neighboring Modern Cannabis dispensary, which is run by the same owners.

Before the event, bartender Dario Arcos had never made cocktails laced with CBD, or cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating chemical found in cannabis that’s used to treat everything from epileptic seizures to sleep problems.

The cannabis-based concoctions turned out be such a hit that it was often difficult for Arcos and his co-workers to keep up with the demand. On Friday, the staff ran through all their pre-made cocktails, which were named after various weed strains like Pineapple Express and Sour Diesel.

“Last night was crazy,” Arcos said on Saturday afternoon. “It was packed.”

Peyton Brennock — an account executive with River North-based Cresco Labs, the state’s largest pot cultivator — said it was crucial for people in the medical pot industry to attend events like this weekend’s pop-up.

“A lot of it is not only letting people know that the program exists, which you’d be surprised how many people don’t know that, but also letting people know that medical cannabis isn’t just a joint,” Brennock said.

Throughout the weekend, Modern Cannabis employees were on hand to educate people about the state’s pilot program and help them apply for pot cards. However, many attendees were already enrolled in the state’s program.

Andrew Linton served in the Marines before taking a job at a Mundelein dispensary that’s operated by GTI, another leading medical cannabis company headquartered in River North.

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Linton’s time playing safety at the University of Arizona and fixing helicopters in Iraq left him with an injured back and, in effect, a growing dependence on prescription opioids like Vicodin. After he started dealing with anxiety and depression that stemmed from his painkiller use, Linton switched to cannabis.

“And now I’m on absolutely nothing but cannabis, for the most part” he said.

Jennifer Clark, Cresco’s senior vice president of operational excellence, spoke Saturday afternoon about ways cannabis can help people like Linton kick opioids. Clark, who previously worked for pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories, discussed a bill Gov. Bruce Rauner signed in August that will give opioid patients temporary access to medical pot in Illinois.

The new law could mark a massive expansion to the state’s medical program, which is already growing at a rapid clip. A new report from the Illinois Department of Public Health found that medical marijuana use in the state has jumped by 80 percent, with more than 46,000 people using legal pot this year.

Other presentations over the weekend weren’t quite as weighty as Clark’s. Jesse Diaz and Aaron Campos of West Town-based Dark Matter Coffee talked about infusing food with pot, while Elmhurst-based Revolution Cannabis discussed what goes into making “craft” marijuana products.

A lot of people were clearly just at the pop-up to have some fun, though. Drinks in hand, many folks navigated an art installation that was made to look like a marijuana grow operation in a Colombian jungle. The designers, Anarchitype Productions, previously transformed the same space into The Upside Down, a pop-up bar inspired by the wildly popular Netflix show Stranger Things.

“That was really interesting,” cannabis chef Rocio Vargas said of the “hippy passageway.”

“I really liked the immersion of being in a forest,” she added.

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