After two-year legislative fight, Buffalo Grove recreational marijuana dispensary opens

It took two years and some legislative creativity, but Buffalo Grove is finally home to a recreational marijuana dispensary.

Village President Beverly Sussman cut the ribbon Thursday at Sunnyside, 830 Milwaukee Ave., to mark the occasion.

Sunnyside opened at the same location last year as a medical dispensary, but a quirk in state law prevented it from selling recreational pot as well. That changed in July, when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation closing that loophole.

"This is a major milestone both for us and for the state, as this is the final medical dispensary to add adult use, and we couldn't be happier to finally be a dual-purpose dispensary here in the community," said Jason Erkes, spokesman for Sunnyside owner Cresco Labs.

Buffalo Grove officials, who agreed to allow recreational pot sales in late 2019, sent an email to state Rep. Daniel Didech complaining that other dispensaries in the area received the green light while "our dispensary remains mired in a bureaucratic morass."

Didech introduced a bill to resolve the issue but initially didn't have the votes for it to pass. However, state Rep. LaShawn Ford, a Chicago Democrat, added the fix to a marijuana-related bill he was sponsoring that increased opportunities for businesses with majority owners of color.

Both legislators, along with Democratic state Sen. Adriane Johnson of Buffalo Grove and Sen. Julie Morrison of Deerfield. were on hand Thursday for the opening.

Speaking to the bill's social equity aspect, Johnson said, "We have taken major steps to create an industry that reflects our state's diversity." She also praised Sunnyside's efforts on workforce training and social equity and education program.

Didech said the legislation is an example of lawmakers coming together to benefit diverse constituencies.

"This is, above all, a big win for government working," he said. "Adriane, LaShawn, Julie and myself, we worked together and we got it fixed."

  State Rep. Daniel Didech discusses the prolonged legislative process that finally led to Thursday's opening of Sunnyside in Buffalo Grove as a recreational marijuana dispensary. Steve Zalusky/
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