Recreational marijuana sales begin at Naperville dispensary
Operators of Naperville's only medical marijuana dispensary didn't waste any time after being granted permission to sell recreational cannabis.
They got to work tearing down walls, expanding the sales floor, adding kiosks and remodeling the exterior of the existing shop at 1700 Quincy Ave., said Derrick Levy, Illinois district manager for Green Thumb Industries. Twenty new employees were hired, and a virtual waitlist was created to accommodate an anticipated influx in customers.
The Chicago-based company's swift preparations paid off Thursday when Rise Naperville became the city's first dispensary to sell adult-use cannabis.
Company and community leaders, including Mayor Steve Chirico, kicked off the facility's grand reopening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Profits from the first day of recreational sales are going toward the Loaves & Fishes Community Services nonprofit.
Rise Naperville, formerly 3C Compassionate Care Center, has been serving patients with medical marijuana cards since 2016. A state variance permitting curbside medical cannabis sales amid the COVID-19 crisis allowed Rise to continue serving those clients during facility renovations, Levy said.
Expanding the business model to also sell recreational pot gives Rise an opportunity to broaden its customer base, he said. That includes those who suffer from anxiety or chronic pain, but may not have a medical cannabis card.
"At the end of the day, we're really just about improving quality of life," Levy said. "We believe cannabis does that."
Green Thumb Industries was one of three recreational pot companies for which Naperville reserved occupancy permits last month, filling the city's cap weeks after the city council lifted a ban on adult-use sales. The new ordinance approved in August permits up to three dispensaries by right in certain zoning areas, as long as they meet various parking regulations, distance requirements and other provisions.
The city council's approval of recreational pot sales was the culmination of more than a year of heated debates, public input and an advisory referendum question in which 53.25% of 28,968 voters supported the use in town.
The other two operations seeking occupancy in Naperville include Sunnyside Dispensary at 2740 W. 75th St. and Zen Leaf at 1516 N. Naper Blvd.