4/20, the ‘high’ holiday, offers dank deals and pot-friendly parties for Chicagoans

The annual celebration of all things weed, a longstanding countercultural tradition, has now become the biggest day for legal sales.

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A man wearing a marijuana leaf costume hangs out at the Waldos Forever Fest outside Dispensary 33, 5001 N. Clark St., on April 20, 2019.

A man wearing a marijuana leaf costume hangs out at the Waldos Forever Fest outside Dispensary 33, 5001 N. Clark St., on April 20, 2019.

Dispensary 33/Provided

Weed lovers have long observed April 20, or 4/20, as the high holiday for getting high.

But in 2020, there was added cause for celebration for those in Illinois after weed was fully legalized at the start of the year. Then the pandemic hit, prompting a stay-at-home order that brought life to a screeching halt exactly a month before the planned festivities.

Fast forward two years and coronavirus cases have stabilized with the help of widely-available vaccines, meaning the party can finally get started. Barring any new restrictions, events are planned across the Chicago area throughout the week of 4/20, which falls on a Wednesday.

Licensed dispensaries across the state are also offering rare deals for the holiday, which is historically the biggest day for legal weed sales nationwide. This year, the cannabis analytics firm Headset predicts they’re going to double compared to last year.

“Although a lot has changed in the cannabis industry since [the last] 4/20, we know one thing for sure: cannabis consumers will want to celebrate the occasion this year and they are expecting some deals,” the company said in a report last month.


Cannabis consultant Mike Malcolm smokes a joint in a North Side home as he explains what customers could expect at dispensaries after recreational marijuana became legal in Illinois, Jan. 8, 2020.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file photo

Consumers who stock up on cheap weed won’t be able to get stoned at some of the events around Chicago because local public consumption rules haven’t been set, but there are some opportunities to indulge in and around the city.

On the morning of April 20, Green Thumb Industries is hosting the grand opening of a consumption lounge housed in its Rise dispensary in Mundelein, 1325 Armour Blvd., where guests can get stoned, catch a DJ set, grab food and enter a Mario Kart tournament. In addition to the sales GTI is running sales at its 10 dispensaries across the state, “exclusive deals and raffle prizes” will also be offered at the party, according to a news release.

Under state law, public consumption is only allowed at pot shops and tobacco stores that have earned local approval. While some promoters have claimed there’s a loophole for throwing private consumption parties, state and city officials haven’t confirmed whether those events are actually legal.

On April 20, the award-winning poet Black Ice is slated to host one of these consumption pop-ups at a “private location” in West Town that features live entertainment, food and drinks, games and giveaways. Tickets range from $50-$180.

GTI will also host an event April 22 at the Wiener’s Circle, 2622 N Clark St., with a live DJ, deals on drinks and food and a “mobile VIP lounge” offering onsite consumption and “complimentary munchies,” according to a release.

Dispensary 33 is offering sales deals from April 20-23, when its much-beloved Waldos Forever Fest is set to return. Hosted outside the firm’s flagship store at 5001 N. Clark St., the street fest doesn’t allow consumption but there will be food and music throughout the day.


White Mystery performs at the Waldos Forever Fest outside Dispensary 33, 5001 N. Clark St., on April 20, 2019.

Dispensary 33/Provided

On April 20, Dispensary 33 is also sponsoring a screening of the movie “Clueless” at the Davis theater, a “Jokes for Stoners” show at Zanies, “Stoner Trivia” at Redline VR and the production debut of “Spliff, Laugh, Love” at the Annoyance Theatre. The events, which are all weed-free, wrap up April 24 with a daytime performance at City Winery by the electronic musician Dan Deacon.

Also on April 20, Chicago rapper and noted weed enthusiast Rich Jones is headlining a “Puff Puff Patio Party” at The Native, 2417 N. Milwaukee Ave., although pot-smoking is prohibited. Herbivore, the Logan Square vegan hotspot, will be dishing out food, according to a flyer.

Meanwhile, other events across the city celebrate the push for equitable ownership in the white-dominated cannabis space, a movement that has been stymied by lawsuits challenging the state’s troubled efforts to diversify the industry.

Chicago rappers Vic Mensa and Towkio are hosting an April 20 event at Soho House, 113-125 N. Green St., to launch 93boyz, which is touted in a news release as “Illinois’ first minority-led cannabis brand.” Product samples will be doled at the event. And before playing a DJ set, Mensa is scheduled to host a panel with a group of Black cannabis entrepreneurs.

The Cannabis Equity Illinois Coalition, an influential advocacy group, will then hold a third anniversary party April 22 at a secret “speakeasy” in the South Loop “for those who like to show up, show out, smoke up and vibe out,” according to an online advisory. Tickets for the event, which includes live entertainment and a silent auction, range in price from $90-$120, with 20% of the proceeds going directly to the coalition.

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