Downtown’s first pot dispensary opens: ‘This is a great addition to our neighborhood’

Sunnyside dispensary, located at 436 N. Clark St. in River North, also became the first store in the city to exclusively sell recreational weed.

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Susan Morrow, 53, of River North, is the first customer to make a purchase at Cresco Labs’ seventh Sunnyside dispensary at 436 N. Clark St. on the store’s opening day in River North, Thursday morning, May 28, 2020. Morrow spent $238 and purchased two packages of indica gummies, a package of hybrid shake and two packages of sativa espresso coffee beans.

Susan Morrow, 53, of River North, is the first customer to make a purchase at Cresco Labs’ seventh Sunnyside dispensary at 436 N. Clark St. on the store’s opening day in River North, Thursday morning, May 28, 2020. Morrow spent $238 and purchased two packages of indica gummies, a package of hybrid shake and two packages of sativa espresso coffee beans.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

After months of jockeying for city and state approval, Cresco Labs on Thursday opened Chicago’s first downtown pot shop.

Cresco’s latest Sunnyside dispensary, located at 436 N. Clark St. in River North, also became the first store in the city to exclusively sell recreational weed.

“We’re happy to help set an example here in River North of what normalized cannabis looks like with a store on a main corridor where people shop, live and work and we couldn’t be happier to provide everyday wellness products to the River North neighborhood,” Cresco spokesman Jason Erkes told the Sun-Times.

Susan Morrow, who serves as the land use development director of the River North Residents Association, was the shop’s first customer. She bought a few packs of infused gummies and coffee beans and some pre-ground marijuana to make her own edibles.

“I am the person that grew up and never touched it,” said Morrow. “As it’s become legal, it’s become a fun thing to dabble with as opposed to drinking. Now, in this time that everybody’s under so much stress, it’s been a great way to get some sleep.”

Both the residents association and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) backed Cresco’s bid to set up shop in the neighborhood, where the major, multi-state pot firm is already headquartered.

“Cresco views this neighborhood as their neighborhood and I know their business plan is one that both embraces and respects the local community,” said Reilly. “I get really excited when companies like Cresco make the wise choice to invest in downtown Chicago and my office stands ready to offer any assistance we can to support this new business as it opens during the global pandemic.”

To streamline sales and promote social distancing amid the public health crisis, Sunnyside is only accepting online orders. Once customers receive a text notification that their order is ready, they can check in at a designated waiting area to get in line to pick up their pot products.

In March, Cresco was among the five pot firms that earned special-use zoning permits to open recreational stores in the city. MOCA, which currently operates a dual-use dispensary in Logan Square, was also granted local zoning approval and issued a state license to open a nearby shop at 216 W. Ohio despite receiving pushback from Reilly and the residents association.

Nevertheless, Morrow believes the cannabis retailers will give the neighborhood an economic boost.

“So many of the neighbors were not looking forward to it, but we worked with all the dispensaries to really show that this is a great addition to our neighborhood.”

Jordan Davis, a wellness advisor, puts hand sanitizer on her rubber gloves at Cresco Labs’ seventh Sunnyside dispensary at 436 N. Clark St. on the store’s opening day in River North, Thursday morning, May 28, 2020. The location represents the first cannabis retail shop to open near downtown Chicago and the first recreational-use only dispensary in the city.

Jordan Davis, a wellness advisor, puts hand sanitizer on her rubber gloves at Cresco Labs’ seventh Sunnyside dispensary at 436 N. Clark St. on the store’s opening day in River North, Thursday morning, May 28, 2020. The location represents the first cannabis retail shop to open near downtown Chicago and the first recreational-use only dispensary in the city.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

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