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Keeping it local: Chicago-based cannabis brand to sponsor hometown professional hockey team

Nov 21, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
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Verilife to gain presence at Chicago Wolves home arena and website

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Verilife Cannabis Dispensary has inked a one-year sponsorship deal with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.

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Chicago-based Verilife calls the agreement a first between a cannabis company and a hometown sports team.

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With a mix of recreational and medicinal cannabis dispensaries, Chicago-based Verilife currently has operations in Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Illinois, where Verilife’s website shows there are eight locations, both recreational and medicinal marijuana are legal.

Chicago Wolves affiliated with Carolina Hurricanes

The National Hockey League’s (NHL) Carolina Hurricanes, which has one Stanley Cup win to its credit and two final appearances, partnered with the Chicago Wolves in 2020, per the NHL. The Wolves, for their part, captured both the International Hockey Leagues Turner Cup and the AHL’s Calder Cup twice, including this past season in 2022.

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The GrowthOp reported in late 2020 the NHL still tested players for prohibited substances — including THC, but not CBD — its approach to use revolved around treatment, not punishment. That means a positive test for “abnormally high levels” of THC is treated as a health matter, adds Axios.

As for the AHL, the Pro Hockey Players Association, which represents players in both the AHL and the East Coast Hockey League, partnered with therapeutic cannabis company Tidal Health Solutions last year.

The players union wrote in a tweet at the time that the teaming was meant to educate both members and alumni PHPA “on the potential therapeutic effects of cannabis and cannabis-derived products.”

Wolves estimated to attract almost a million views every season

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With regard to the recently announced Chicago Wolves and Verilife pairing, Ad Week points out the brand will have a game-day presence at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, including the Jumbotron above the ice, scoreboard, digital banners, dashboards, LED screens that encircle the arena, televisions throughout the venue, as well as on the team’s website. That presence will potentially attract the eyes of the 900,000-plus fans who watch the AHL team every season.

But it’s not solely about visibility at the arena, though, with Forbes reporting the partnership enables in-store promotional opportunities at Verilife’s licensed cannabis dispensary in Rosemont, not far from the O’Hare International Airport.

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“The close proximity of our Verilife Rosemont location to the games makes this sponsorship a natural fit,” says Erika Salgado Guerra, chief marketing officer of Verilife’s parent company, PharmaCann Inc. “We have so many customers who follow the team, and we cannot wait to introduce Verilife to the rest of the team’s fans. We’re looking forward to being a part of each exhilarating game.”

Beyond sports and athletes is the community element. “The partnership also includes a charitable component benefiting one of the Chicago Wolves Charities, Facing Forward to End Homelessness, a Chicago non-profit organization dedicated to ending homelessness in the Windy City,” PharmaCann Inc., Verilife’s parent company, notes in a company statement.

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Donations will be made to the charity throughout the 2022-23 season “determined by on-ice performances,” the company reports. “It’s going to be fantastic to see how much money we can raise together for Facing Forward. Go Wolves,” adds Chris Friederich, senior executive of corporate partnerships with the Chicago Wolves.

Professional sports leagues seem to be warming to CBD and cannabis

It’s not the first time Verilife has partnered with a local athlete. The publication reports it previously announced a partnership with Chicago Cubs legend and Major League Baseball (MLB) Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, a move that “opened the door” for its sponsorship with sports teams and players.

The publication further reports the partnership idea was initiated by the team.

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It’s also not the first time a sports team or league has partnered with a cannabis company. In October, MLB and Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. announced an “exclusive, multi-year strategic partnership that opens increased CBD visibility to their professional athletes, millions of fans and communities,” per the company.

“As a leader in the CBD category, with products that provide health and wellness benefits, Charlotte’s Web is a welcome addition to the MLB family, representing a landmark partnership in baseball and sports,” Noah Garden, MLB chief revenue officer, noted in a statement, adding the products “have met the highest safety standards and can be promoted across MLB events and media platforms.”

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The deal followed the MLB appearing to have widened its sponsorship horizons, reported in June, by allowing CBD companies to throw their hats into the ring.

Other pairings cover different types of sports, including the following: United Soccer League (USL) and CBD hemp brand Synchronicity reaching a new four-year sponsorship deal; Toronto Wolfpack announcing it planned to release a line of CBD-infused topical creams; NuWu Cannabis Marketplace, owned and operated by the Las Vegas Paiute tribe, reporting it has an advertising partnership with the Las Vegas Lights; Colorado’s first professional ultimate disc team green lighting local dispensary Star Buds having its logo featured on the team’s jersey; Big3, a three-on-three basketball league co-founded by Ice Cube, signing a sponsorship deal with cbdMD; and the Ultimate Fighting Championship announcing a five-year pact with U.K.-based Love Hemp Group PLC, making the company the official global CBD partner of the UFC.

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