Kyle Turley believes cannabis can cure COVID-19.

Others, like the folks at the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission, aren’t convinced. Late last month, the agencies sent a letter to the former All-Pro offensive lineman’s company, Neuro XPF, telling it to stop promoting CBD products as a way of stopping the coronavirus pandemic.

Turley seems to have found a way to comply with the order without backing down from his claims. As of this weekend, he says, Neuro XPF is no longer his company. Neither is the Shango chain of dispensaries, which has locations in Moreno Valley as well as Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Michigan.

“In the recent days many of you have witnessed the resentment and backlash of individuals and agencies who wish to silence my message and demand I stand down at the risk of losing all,” Turley wrote in a statement he posted Saturday on Twitter.

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“After meeting extensively with my team and partners due to the coronavirus and demand by our government leaders for all to do what we can to win this war on COVID-19, it is with a heavy heart I have decided to relieve myself of my capital approach, duties and direct involvement and associations to the companies I’ve helped build and create out of respect for the life-saving work they do and the risk of jobs at stake because of threats to my personal advocacy.”

He added: “I will now be strictly operating as a private citizen without restriction of speech to continue my dedication to the ongoing fight against COVID-19 and informing the people of these unwavering truths shown to me in the science of the endogenous cannabinoid system that must be exposed at this time through the dropping of Schedule 1 status on cannabis.”

Turley played in the NFL from 1998-2007, including one season with the St. Louis Rams. After retiring, he faced lingering physical pain from his playing days, as well of bouts of depression and rage. He tried cannabis and saw rapid improvement, leading to his advocacy for the league to lift its ban on marijuana use by players.

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“Everyone knows this game is brutal,” he told The Times’ David Wharton last year. “Cannabis saved my life, period, and it could help a lot of other players.”

According to the FDA and FTC’s March 31 letter to Neuro XPF, the company included such messages on its website as “We want everyone to take CBD and take advantage of its potential to help prepare your body to fight a coronavirus infection” and “Crush Corona! Your best defense against the COVID-19 blitz starts with a strong immune system.”

The letter states: “We advise you to review your websites, product labels, and other labeling and promotional materials to ensure that you are not misleadingly representing your products as safe and effective for a COVID-19-related use for which they have not been approved by FDA and that you do not make claims that misbrand the products in violation of the FD&C Act. …

“Failure to immediately correct the violations cited in this letter may result in legal action, including, without limitation, seizure and injunction.”

The company’s website appears to no longer mention COVID-19 or the coronavirus. But private citizen Turley continues to speak and tweet freely about the curing powers of cannabis.

“Trust in God and his great medicine and what he put inside of your body to help you heal yourself,” Turley said in a video clip (warning: contains profanity) posted Saturday on Twitter.

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State and local lawmakers are urging Santa Clara County officials to reverse a decision made last week to ban the sale of recreational cannabis in stores.

When Bay Area officials first instituted a stay-at-home order in mid-March, Santa Clara County deemed cannabis dispensaries were essential businesses, and as such, permitted to remain open.

But just two weeks later, when it was announced last week that the region’s shelter-at-home order would be extended to May 3, the county added a new stipulation that only allowed dispensaries to sell medicinal marijuana in stores and required that recreational cannabis be sold through deliveries.

Santa Clara County appeared to be the only Bay Area county to introduce this new distinction, as spelled out in an FAQ page on its website.

The decision not only sparked backlash from owners and operators of dispensaries but has also raised concerns for some local and state officials that represent the county’s residents.

San Jose council members Pam Foley, Magdalena Carrasco and Maya Esparza penned a letter to Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Sara Cody on Monday requesting that she “reconsider only allowing medicinal cannabis to be purchased within a store, curbside, or by delivery.”

“Today, a resident can walk out of a grocery store with a bottle of Tylenol, but that same person is unable to pull up curbside for pain relief from CBD oil. These individuals in need of relief should not be denied safe access to cannabis during this critical time,” the council members wrote in their letter.

Instead of barring dispensaries from selling recreational marijuana in stores, the officials are asking the county to implement “manageable requirements,” such as the new social distancing protocols that all other essential businesses that have been permitted to stay open must adopt. Those protocols include limiting the number of customers allowed in a store at a time, setting up work stations at least six feet apart and conducting routine sanitation schedules.

State lawmakers Assemblyman Ash Kalra and Senator Jim Beall followed in the San Jose council members’ footsteps and also wrote a letter to the county on Monday addressing their issues with the changes to the order.

Kalra and Beall raised a number of concerns, including a possibility of pushing customers to the black market, long-term impacts on the viability of dispensaries to meet medicinal cannabis needs and a lack of clarity for enforcement of the county’s overall shelter-in-place order.

“The current order has unintentionally led to confusion and places additional requirements on already thinly deployed law enforcement and licensing enforcement personnel,” they wrote in their letter.

Hirsh Jain, director of government affairs for the San Jose dispensary Caliva, called the lack of clarity “unfortunate”, adding that it “puts both dispensaries and those that rely on them for their medicine in a difficult position.”

The county’s order states that only “medical cannabis” can be purchased in-store, but does not define what a “medical cannabis” purchase is.

Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams said in an email Monday evening that the order does not state that people are required to have medical marijuana cards to purchase cannabis products at a dispensary. But, he said, some law enforcement agencies are “choosing to use [the card] as a proxy for whether a person is seeking access for medical purposes.”

Williams did not say whether the county supports the decision by some law enforcement agencies to ask for a medical marijuana card upon entry to a dispensary.

But he defended the stipulation by saying that its purpose — in alignment with the overall goals of the shelter-in-place order — is to reduce the number of people gathering in a certain location.

“Of note, many letters note the large numbers of people who may be seeking in-person access to dispensaries,” Williams wrote in an email. “Even for essential services, everyone is strongly urged to stay at home as much as possible and to reduce and consolidate trips in order to minimize contacts to the greatest degree possible.”

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As marijuana companies have jockeyed for new locations, particularly downtown, the biggest concern was navigating the state’s rule that no retail shops would be allowed within 1,500 feet of each other.

So everyone in the industry was watching the first two applications — some 1,300 feet apart in River North — Cresco Labs planned shop at 436 N. Clark St. and MOCA Modern Cannabis’s application for 214-232 W. Ohio St.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, like the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals before it, surprised everyone in approving both on Friday.

“There were no such dispensaries within 1,500 feet of either applicant when the final inspections were completed, and each secondary site dispensary was approved for licensure on Friday,” the department, which regulates cannabis dispensaries, said in a statement today.
 
Throughout the scramble by existing marijuana retailers to add new sites, especially in downtown Chicago, where much of the area is off-limits by city ordinance, the cannabis companies were operating under the belief that it was a race to win approval quickly, and the winner would set the marker for the 1,500-foot rule.

Weed companies spent time and money trying to lock up multiple properties in case a rival got approval before them for a site within 1,500 feet of their first choice.

The 1,500-foot requirement was part of the controversial state law signed in late June that allowed recreational weed sales and gave existing pot companies the right open a secondary site for each medical-marijuana license they held.

IDFPR sent out notice Aug. 15 about how it planned to referee competing applications. “We are aware that potential conflicts may arise between applicants if they seek locations for their second-site dispensaries that are within 1,500 feet of each other. In the event of such a conflict, the applicant who receives a license first will be the one permitted to operate.

“IDFPR will not grant a license for a secondary site until the applicant’s facility has passed final inspection, which will occur after receipt of the necessary zoning approval,” the letter continued. “IDFPR will also not grant a license if it has granted another dispensing organization a license at a location within 1,500 feet of the applicant’s proposed location.

“In this situation, IDFPR will require the applicant to amend its application with a different location, and if the applicant does not do so, it will deny the application. One way to minimize the possibility of such conflicts is for potential applicants to make themselves aware of the proposed locations of other applicants.”

Now that the state has issued licenses to Cresco and MOCA, however, presumably others will have to take their marks from them.

But it will be interesting to see how IDFPR handles two other locations granted approval from Chicago’s Zoning Board of Appeals are within about 550 feet: Windy City Cannabis won approval for a dispensary at 923 W. Weed St., and MedMen received a permit for 1001 W. North Ave.

“This doesn’t make any sense,” said Josh Kahan, a cannabis-industry real estate consultant. “What’s the point of the rule? That’s what all the companies were using for their benchmark. It’s an interesting cop-out.”

It’s not the first time that IDFPR has flummoxed cannabis companies. The law said existing medical marijuana dispensaries would be allowed to sell recreational marijuana. But when companies sought to relocate existing facilities to larger or more accessible locations, or to move of out of jurisdictions that rejected recreational sales, IDFPR interpreted the language to mean only the physical address in operation when the law took effect July 1 would be eligible to begin selling recreational marijuana — and they were not movable.

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