Only a few dozen dispensaries are expected to have recreational weed for sale when Illinois’ prohibition on pot is lifted on Jan. 1.
Thirty-seven of the state’s 55 existing medical dispensaries have been awarded licenses to also start selling recreational cannabis at the start of 2020, including 10 of Chicago’s 11 current medical shops. (That number is subject to change as the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation processes more applications.)
Some stores are planning to open as soon as sales kick off at 6 a.m. that day, including MedMar Lakeview at 3812 N. Clark St., which is being rebranded as one of Cresco Labs’ consumer-friendly Sunnyside dispensaries ahead of Jan. 1.
“Our plan is that the first sale in the state takes place at Sunnyside in LakeView,” said Cresco spokesman Jason Erkes.
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Enthusiastic cannabis users hoping to ring in the new year by indulging in the newly legalized drug could face long lines at the limited number of pot shops — something Gov. J.B. Prtizker acknowledged last week before signing a bill that tied up some of the pot law’s loose ends.
“We expect a lot of demand,” Pritzker said. “At the very beginning, that might mean long lines or long waits.”
Customers queueing up at Sunnyside will be able to wait inside Uncommon Ground, a neighboring restaurant located at 3800 N. Clark St., where they can select products before picking up orders and paying at the dispensary.
Abigail Watkins, spokeswoman for Dispensary 33 at 5001 N. Clark St., said the store plans to use a paging system to keep track of the expected overflow when doors open at 9 a.m. Customers are being encouraged to patronize neighboring businesses like Dark Matter Coffee and The SoFo Tap while they wait.
“Having people standing outside for hours on a day like Jan. 1 is kind of crazy,” noted Watkins, who said the dispensary also expects an influx of new customers in the ensuing days.