Medical pot dispensary faces backlash after handing out swag during Buffalo Grove Days

A Buffalo Grove medical marijuana dispensary is facing public backlash over handing out hats, stickers and other promotional items to minors during the holiday weekend's Buffalo Grove Days festival.

PDI Medical, a medical marijuana dispensary, passed out the items from its booth on the festival grounds, village officials confirmed. Items included a hat showing the logo of Cresco Labs, which acquired PDI Medical last year, with the "r" in the name shaped like a marijuana leaf. Another hat displayed the Cresco Labs brand Reserve, also featuring a letter resembling a marijuana leaf.

Among those to receive a hat was the 15-year-old daughter of village resident Jorie Ouimet. She said her daughter was told she was "a little young" for more information about the business but then was provided with it.

"I'm definitely concerned as a parent about that being allowed and the marketing of marijuana products to kids in our community," Ouimet said. "That's not necessary. It's normalizing marijuana use for them, and it's going to increase use rates among our teens and our young people."

She shared her concerns with Buffalo Grove police at the fest. An officer approached the booth and asked PDI representatives to use common sense when handing out swag.

"Although not illegal, I did have a conversation with them about the optics of it," police Lt. Michael Rodriguez said. "That perhaps they might be able to use better discretion. They were completely understanding and they actually volunteered and they said we're not going to give out anything to any kids."

Buffalo Grove Village Manager Dane Bragg said he has since been in touch with a Cresco Labs executive and was told the company is reviewing what happened.

"I did verify with police that we don't believe any crime was committed," Bragg said. "But it appears that they did in fact distribute promotional materials like hats, stickers and pins to minors.

"I stated (to the company executive) that we were very disappointed that it happened," he said. "And certainly it doesn't reflect the values of Buffalo Grove Days or our community. And that we do not condone or want any type of use of cannabis by minors under any circumstances. He concurred."

Bragg said the village will follow up with the company to learn what steps it will take to prevent a repeat.

The Cresco executive was unavailable by phone, but a spokesperson for PDI Medical issued a statement saying its mission includes eliminating the stigma of medical cannabis by educating people at public events.

"While we focus our educational efforts primarily on adults, we have many minor patients across the country with debilitating conditions that use cannabis for relief through their caregivers," the statement reads. "We are happy to sponsor local events like Buffalo Grove Days and to be supportive in the community, and we will be discussing our educational tactics with our staff to make sure our outreach continues to be primarily medically and adult-focused."

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