Pot sales spike at some shops in Chicago, nationally as coronavirus spreads

“We’re seeing people worried about having to leave their house and wanting to buy more than they generally would,” a pot shop operator told the Sun-Times. “Everyone is concerned. Everyone is just fearful.”

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A customer makes a purchase at Rise Joliet, a cannabis dispensary in southwest suburban Joliet.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

As many businesses take a hit amid the rising coronavirus crisis, the high times continued at some Chicago marijuana dispensaries.

Representatives for three pot shops in the city confirmed that sales have spiked as the coronavirus spread across the state in recent weeks. Meanwhile, a similar trend has played out in other states that have legalized weed.

Kris Krane, president of 4Front Ventures, a multi-state pot firm that operates the Mission dispensary in South Chicago, said Wednesday that “sales have been up everywhere.” Krane said daily sales at some of the company’s medical stores in other states had even eclipsed those of April 20, an unofficial weed holiday that typically serves as “the highest volume sales day of the year.”

Krane said sales at the Chicago dispensary peaked on Monday before dipping slightly the following day when state regulators announced new guidelines for weed stores. To comply with those new rules and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mission started limiting the number of people allowed inside at once and reduced how many registers employees can operate.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some Chicago shops have suspended recreational weed sales in order to prioritize medical patients. What’s more, GreenGate Chicago, a medical-only store in Rogers Park, announced Wednesday it was closing for two weeks, while The Herbal Care Center on the Near West Side shut down Thursday for cleaning.

Before closing their doors to recreational customers on Monday, Dispensary 33 in Uptown also saw sales jump.

“There was a bit of a spike,” said Dispensary 33 owner Bryan Zises. “We’re seeing people worried about having to leave their house and wanting to buy more than they generally would. Everyone is concerned. Everyone is just fearful.”

In terms of medical sales, Zises said a smaller number of patients are now buying more weed than they usually would. Zises noted that those folks are concerned about the state’s marijuana supply chain, which has been strained since recreational sales came online at the start of the year.

Jason Erkes, spokesman for Loop-based Cresco Labs, said the company’s store in Lake View has seen an uptick in customers in recent weeks — though it’s unclear whether the limited options have simply pushed more people to the few shops that are still selling recreational pot.

“It’s hard to gauge if we’re just picking up the people that would’ve shopped there or if they’re new people,” said Erkes

“We definitely have more customers, but we really don’t know where they’re coming from. That doesn’t necessarily mean more people are buying cannabis.”

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