The Hall of Famer is an accidental pitchman for cannabis. He said he didn’t start using marijuana products until late last year, after someone from PharmaCann invited him to the company’s cultivation facility in Dwight, about an hour south of Chicago.
“I had some interest in the booming industry, but I had no knowledge about cannabis,” Sandberg said. “I went to see the product being made and started talking to the scientists, and then I went to a dispensary. I compare it to the first time I went to a Napa Valley and went to a winery.”
As a beloved sports hero in Chicago, Sandberg’s endorsement of weed marks a turning point for the industry in its continued evolution from criminal enterprise to mainstream business as more states legalize recreational marijuana.
As a 61-year-old grandfather, Sandberg is a perfect pitchman for an industry that’s moving from longtime dope smokers to suburban soccer moms.
“He’s not that different from the majority of people who have haven’t used cannabis and are a little apprehensive,” said Mehul Patel, chief operating officer. He declined to say how much the company is paying Sandberg. “The experience he went through, a lot of people can relate to. He’s seen as a trusted figure.”
Sandberg, who lives in Lake Bluff, says he uses cannabis-infused gummies and tinctures — not smokable marijuana — that carry a low dose of THC, the chemical that creates the high associated with weed.
“It agrees with me,” he says. “My goals were to have better focus and energy throughout the day and wind down at the end of the day.”
Sandberg also will do a handful of appearances, starting May 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Verilife store at 60 W. Superior St. in River North.