Suburbs' first cannabis lounge gets the thumbs-up to open in Mundelein

A Mundelein cannabis dispensary has received permission to open the suburbs' first cannabis lounge.

The village board on Monday unanimously granted a request from Rise, 1325 Armour Blvd., to operate an appointment-only space where customers can ingest newly purchased products.

The lounge will be in an adjacent building at 1570 Baskin Road that Rise's parent company, Green Thumb Industries of Chicago, also owns. A hallway will connect the two buildings.

An opening date hasn't been announced.

The state law that legalized selling cannabis for recreational purposes starting in January 2020 also allowed towns to authorize consumption of the drug inside dispensaries and tobacco stores. Few have opened, however.

Under its new agreement with Mundelein, Rise will allow lounge customers to consume only cannabis flower, beverages and concentrates purchased at the shop. Edibles will be forbidden because they are easier to unintentionally overconsume, officials have said.

Alcohol will be banned, too.

Just like employees in bars serving alcohol, lounge employees will be trained to prevent overconsumption of cannabis by patrons.

Once the lounge opens, Mundelein police won't be waiting nearby to pull over customers who've partaken while inside, Village Administrator Eric Guenther said.

"Our officers do not have the time nor the inclination to sit and wait for people to leave in hopes that they will catch an intoxicated driver," Guenther said in an email. "We just do not do that, just like we do not sit outside bars and wait for people to leave."

Two audience members - both executives at businesses in the industrial park where Rise operates - spoke against the lounge proposal during the public comment portion of Monday's meeting. They raised concerns about auto and pedestrian safety in the industrial park as well as Rise customers parking on their properties.

One, Joe Kane of Strausak Inc. and Rollomatic, brought a petition he said was signed by representatives of 18 area businesses. He also questioned the bureaucratic process being used to permit the lounge.

Later in the meeting, Mayor Steve Lentz spoke favorably about the safety measures Rise plans to enact. Even so, he urged the critics to contact village hall if "substantial" problems in the neighborhood arise.

Trustee Tim Wilson said he hopes the parking-related concerns can be addressed.

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  Mundelein's Rise could become the first cannabis dispensary in suburban Chicago to offer a lounge for customers to take the drug. Mark Welsh/, 2020
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