Zen Leaf moves to larger location in St. Charles to keep up with demand

To say that Zen Leaf's medical and recreational marijuana dispensary in St. Charles has been experiencing a growth spurt is an understatement.

Zen Leaf has seen a 639% growth in patients from June 2018 to June 2021, resulting in the dispensary having the second most patients per dispensary - 5,048 - in the state as of June 30, according to the 2021 annual report for the medical cannabis patient program.

The dispensary in the state with the most number of patients had 5,662 as of June 30 and is located in Mundelein. Zen Leaf has been in operation in St. Charles since 2015.

Last year, Zen Leaf began selling recreational marijuana at its dispensary at 3714 Illinois Ave. after St. Charles aldermen gave them the green light to do so. To accommodate Zen Leaf's growth, the dispensary has moved into the former Jared Jewelry store in the Main Street Commons shopping center in St. Charles.

Zen Leaf St. Charles is the first marijuana dispensary to relocate after a recent change in state law. Zen Leaf's new building is approximately 60% larger than its previous building in an industrial park on Illinois Avenue in St. Charles - approximately 1,000 feet away from its new location.

It also is in a more prominent location and provides more parking than at its previous location. During a Friday ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new location, St. Charles Mayor Lora Vitek said Zen Leaf's new facility is helping contribute to the revitalization of the city's east side.

"We've been trying to grow and rejuvenate the east side of St. Charles," Vitek said. "And so we're appreciative that you not only kept your business here but moved it and also renovated a building that's been vacant."

She also thanked Zen Leaf for helping to increase the city's sales tax base and "that helps us to be able to do the things we need to do in the city for all of our residents."

And she noted how Zen Leaf has helped those medical patients who visit the St. Charles facility.

"I know that for patients who come here, this is something that improves their quality of life," Vitek said. "So I think that's wonderful."

Zen Leaf had a soft opening Monday at its new location and grand opening festivities and specials will continue all weekend.

Anthony Marsico, executive vice president of retail for Zen Leaf, thanked city and state officials for allowing the dispensary to move.

"I think we've seen the cannabis industry evolve into traditional retail," he said. "Our commitment to the city was always that when we had the ability to relocate, we would. So when we did get the green light from the state and saw that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, we were proactive about construction and we're excited to be the first adult-use store to relocate in Illinois."

As Marsico noted, Zen Leaf started out as a medical marijuana STcompany.

"So our focus and loyalty has always been to medical patients," he said. "And we really prioritize them and make sure that even though we're selling adult-use, they were where we started. So we have a strong patient outreach program and we continue to build that today. There's still a lot of folks with ailments that we're helping and we're giving them a level of wellness that they're maybe not getting from other avenues."

The new location for Zen Leaf medical and recreational marijuana dispensary in St. Charles is bigger and offers more parking. Sandy Bressner/Shaw Media
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