Zen Leaf marijuana dispensary opens in Aurora

  • Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin pumps his fist with excitement after the ribbon cutting at the opening of a new Zen Leaf marijuana dispensary Tuesday.

      Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin pumps his fist with excitement after the ribbon cutting at the opening of a new Zen Leaf marijuana dispensary Tuesday. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Recreational marijuana sales began Tuesday in Aurora with the grand opening of a new Zen Leaf dispensary at 740 S. Route 59.

      Recreational marijuana sales began Tuesday in Aurora with the grand opening of a new Zen Leaf dispensary at 740 S. Route 59. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin tours the new Zen Leaf marijuana dispensary, which opened Tuesday along Route 59.

      Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin tours the new Zen Leaf marijuana dispensary, which opened Tuesday along Route 59. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • "Premium products and an elevated aesthetic" are offered at the new Zen Leaf dispensary in Aurora, said George Archos, founder and CEO of Verano.

      "Premium products and an elevated aesthetic" are offered at the new Zen Leaf dispensary in Aurora, said George Archos, founder and CEO of Verano. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • The new Zen Leaf marijuana dispensary opened Tuesday along Route 59 in Aurora.

      The new Zen Leaf marijuana dispensary opened Tuesday along Route 59 in Aurora. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/20/2020 1:13 PM

Recreational marijuana sales kicked off Tuesday in Aurora with the opening of the city's first adult-use dispensary.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorated the launch of Zen Leaf Aurora at 740 S. Route 59, along a high-traffic commercial corridor bordering Naperville. Company and city leaders say the facility has created new jobs and is expected to generate substantial tax revenue for Aurora, where up to four dispensaries are allowed as a special use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Social responsibility was a goal of the zoning regulations passed nearly a year ago in a community "disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs," Mayor Richard Irvin said. Zen Leaf operator Verano shared the same commitment, Irvin said, and was the first to address city officials about opening a dispensary in town.

"The company kept all of its promises," Irvin said in a statement. "Through Zen Leaf's investment in Aurora, residents and visitors now have safe, legal access to regulated cannabis products sold at a contemporary dispensary that provides jobs for residents and new tax revenue for our community."

About half the dispensary's 38 employees live in Aurora, according to a news release from the company. Staff members have spent the last several months training at a Zen Leaf location in St. Charles.

The Aurora site is the 12th operational Zen Leaf dispensary in the country, officials said, with another location slated to open in the coming months at 1516 Naper Boulevard in Naperville. Verano plans to expand into other parts of the suburbs in 2021.

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"It is an honor to help open Aurora's first adult-use dispensary," said Katie Vaughn, general manager of the Aurora site. "We've hired a great team of passionate and knowledgeable team members to guide and assist customers with their cannabis experience."

The new dispensary offers convenient access and parking, as well as "premium products and an elevated aesthetic" for new or experienced patrons, Verano and Zen Leaf founder and CEO George Archos said. Customers ages 21 and older can view and reserve products online, or visit the facility for an in-person consultation.

Zen Leaf Aurora is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

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