What suburban dispensaries expect when recreational marijuana sales start Jan. 1
Stores that will begin selling marijuana for recreational adult use Wednesday know they'll be part of history, so they're setting a festive mood.
Dispensary operators and industry experts are predicting long lines and plenty of excitement as customers converge on places like EarthMed in Addison, Rise Mundelein and Verilife in North Aurora -- the three dispensaries in the Northwest and West suburbs that are set to begin recreational sales on the first day allowed under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.
EarthMed opens at 10 a.m. and Verilife at 9 a.m., making Rise Mundelein the first in the region, poised to start sales at 6 a.m.
"I wanted 6 a.m. to be our game plan," said Mike Perez, chief operating officer of EarthMed, reflecting on how his dispensary was among the first in the state to start medical sales in November 2015.
The zoning ordinance Addison approved this month, which permits EarthMed's expansion into the recreational market, does not allow sales to begin until 10 a.m.
So after a midmorning opening, Perez said, EarthMed will remain open for recreational customers "until we run out of product."
Rise Mundelein stopped short of predicting a sellout on the first day, but officials with parent company Green Thumb Industries are expecting long lines and eventual product shortages, said Dina Rollman, senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs. The store will pitch tents and set up heat lamps before its opening, and will offer food and beverages to waiting customers.
"Because Chicago weather is unpredictable, we are putting plans in place to try to keep everybody comfortable," Rollman said. "We anticipate that because Jan. 1 is a day that many people have off work and there is this excitement that has built up around this day, we do think we may see people lining up before 6 a.m."
Rise Mundelein has made arrangements with neighboring businesses in a light industrial district just south of Townline Road to accommodate increased traffic and customer parking.
The business also is offering online ordering for customers familiar with the store's range of cannabis products. Rollman said those who order in advance can go to a pickup window inside the store to prove they're 21 or older, then pay and be on their way. For those who don't know what they want, staff members can talk them through the options, she said.
Consumers, by law, can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower; up to 500 mg of THC in cannabis-infused products; and up to 5 grams of a cannabis concentrate. Most products Rise sells are in smaller increments, Rollman said, such as a gram of flower or a tin of pre-rolled joints.
As dispensaries prepare for a party atmosphere and a rush of sales Jan. 1, they're also warning customers about the use provisions of the law, rules that say public consumption is not allowed, nor is consumption on dispensary premises; products can't be resold or shared with minors; and driving impaired remains illegal.
"This is a new phase for Illinois," Rollman said. "We want to work together with our customers to make sure everybody carries this out responsibly."
Where pot sales will start in the suburbsThree stores, called dispensaries, in the Northwest and West suburbs will be open Jan. 1 selling -- to people 21 and older -- cannabis flower (the green, leafy substance many people associate with marijuana), as well as extracted or infused items, including vaping products, concentrates, capsules, tinctures and edibles.
These stores have state licenses and local zoning to begin selling for recreational use from the same sites where they are established sellers in the state's medical marijuana program. Here is where to find the stores:
• Rise Mundelein
Address: 1325 Armour Blvd., Mundelein
Jan. 1 hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Phone number: (847) 616-8966
Address: 852 S. Westgate St., Addison
Jan. 1 hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Phone number: (630) 607-0796
• Verilife North Aurora
Address: 161 S. Lincolnway St., suite 301, North Aurora
Jan. 1 hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Phone number: (630) 264-0890