Chicago resident Renzo Mejia spent the last hour of 2019 standing in line. But by the time the sun rose on the first day of 2020, Mejia made history as the first person to legally purchase adult-use weed in the state of Illinois.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Midwest’s newest legal weed market made its first sale at 6:08am on January 1st, finally ending decades of prohibition and persecution in the Prairie State. To celebrate the momentous occasion, cannabis users across Illinois waited in long lines through the early morning hours of New Year's Day to get their hands on the state’s first batch of legal bud.
“To be able to have [recreational marijuana] here is just mind-boggling,” Mejia, who purchased an eighth of Motorbreath flower, told the Sun-Times. “To be able to now make the first purchase in Chicago… it’s just surreal.”
Along with Mejia and hordes of other cannabis lovers, Illinois Lieutenant Governor Julianna Stratton was also on hand at Chicago’s Sunnyside Lakeview dispensary to make her own purchase — a pack of clementine-flavored THC-infused gummies. In an interview after her pot shop visit, Lt. Gov. Stratton told reporters that she was proud to see the state’s social-equity focused legalization program reach fruition.
“We believe the social equity aspects of this legislation should be a model for the entire country,” Stratton said outside of the cannabis shop. “Yesterday, Governor Pritzker pardoned 11,017 low-level cannabis arrests and convictions. That’s just the beginning. We have hundreds of thousands more who will be eligible for having their records expunged. That’s a big deal.”
Another shop, another line. This one is at The Herbal Care Center at 1301 S. Western. They also have some warming tens set up and they’re handing out free coffee. pic.twitter.com/DjUm0qwYJT— Tom Schuba (@TomSchuba) January 1, 2020
But amidst the long lines and New Year’s cheer, Illinois first day of legalization came with its own share of concerns and complications.
For starters, Illinois weed immediately became some of the most expensive in the nation, with eighth ounce packages of flower selling for as much as $80. And since the recreational supply was limited across the state, a number of dispensaries set customer purchase limits. By the end of the day, a number of Chicago dispensaries had already run out of product and had to refuse service to hopeful customers.
For dispensary owners and employees, though, the first day of sales was a huge success, and hopefully signifies a bright green future for Illinois.
“To see this many people be able to come and purchase cannabis legally in a store that we’ve taken a lot of pride in building… For them to be able to be here and buy cannabis here with no stigma, no fear of arrest, this is what we’ve been working towards,” Mission dispensary president Kris Krane told the Sun-Times.
You can find a full map of all of the dispensaries currently open for adult-use sales in the state here. A big congratulations to Illinois — we’ll be visiting in the very near future.
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