Zen Leaf marijuana dispensary opens in Prospect Heights

  • Assistant General Manager Sandy Fudal, right, helps Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer make the first purchase at Zen Leaf Prospect Heights just after the new recreational marijuana dispensary's ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning.

    Assistant General Manager Sandy Fudal, right, helps Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer make the first purchase at Zen Leaf Prospect Heights just after the new recreational marijuana dispensary's ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning. Courtesy of Zen Leaf

  • Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer presides over the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Zen Leaf Prospect Heights just before the new recreational marijuana dispensary in the city opened its doors Wednesday morning.

    Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer presides over the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Zen Leaf Prospect Heights just before the new recreational marijuana dispensary in the city opened its doors Wednesday morning. Courtesy of Zen Leaf

 
 
Updated 12/30/2020 12:55 PM

Prospect Heights Mayor Nick Helmer presided over the ribbon-cutting of the city's first -- and by ordinance, only -- recreational marijuana dispensary Wednesday before proceeding inside to become the official first customer of Zen Leaf Prospect Heights.

The business at 1434 E. Rand Road takes over the former First Midwest Bank building. It was unanimously approved by aldermen in July over some residents' criticisms of its proximity to Hersey High School and Thomas Middle School in neighboring Arlington Heights.

 

"Filling a long-vacant retail space formerly held by a local bank, we expect the dispensary to be an economic catalyst here," Helmer said. "While many retail industries and operators have faced incredibly steep challenges over the last year, the cannabis industry has provided a steady source of revenue for municipalities across the state."

The new dispensary is operated by Verano, a multistate cannabis company, and is the fifth of its kind in Illinois.

Verano founder, chairman and CEO George Archos released a statement in conjunction with the Prospect Heights grand opening.

"We are thrilled to continue expanding the inimitable Zen Leaf dispensary brand and experience, bringing it to the desirable community of Prospect Heights" he said.

Company officials defended the location choice during the approval process last summer, saying that the free-standing building would be easier to monitor than a leased space in one of the few strip malls in the largely residential city.

At that time, Helmer also expressed confidence that no one under the age of 21 would obtain marijuana from the dispensary, saying its owners knew they would have no second chances if they were to break the law.

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