Marijuana Dispensaries Prepare For First Day of Legalization

For the first few months, cannabis will only be available at existing medical marijuana facilities

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With recreational marijuana set to become legal in Illinois on Jan. 1, members of the state's cannabis industry are encouraging new customers to be prepared and patient.

For the first few months of legalization, cannabis will only be available at existing medical marijuana facilities including Sunnyside in Wrigleyville.

The dispensary, which only has a small lobby and a few registers, has even come up with a plan for massive crowds by creating an "overfill space" at the nearby Uncommon Ground coffee shop, “where dispensary staff will answer questions about products and allow consumers to preorder product.” 

Once Wednesday rolls around, the dispensary's staff will be standing ready to educate first-time buyers.

"We'll have runners going back and forth, so [by] the time they'll get inside, they'll really just [be] presenting their number and spending minimal time inside the dispensary," said Jason Erkes, a spokesman for Cresco Labs, the parent company of Sunnyside.

Dispensaries especially want to remind users that they need to be at least 21 years old and show a valid ID.

"It's been a long road," said Erkes. "This is history in the making, and we want to make sure it's a good experience for everyone."

Dispensary employees aren't the only ones getting ready for legalization; medical marijuana users are preparing, too.

Many people said they hope to avoid the crowds by stocking up on supplies before the rush.

"I actually purchased enough to get by for the next two to three weeks to make sure I avoid any complications," said medical marijuana user Marc Fischer.

Medical marijuana users also want to remind first-time users to be smart.

"If someone is new to it, there's a lot they have to learn about products anyway, so they should take it slow," said medical marijuana user Luke Cowie.

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