Everything You Need to Know About Illinois’s New Recreational Cannabis Law

Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Dispensary/Facebook

In case you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard the news that recreational cannabis became legal in Illinois on New Year’s Day, making it the 11th state in the nation to have done so. So if your New Year’s resolution was to visit a dispensary, you’re in luck!

The groundbreaking law includes a first-of-its-kind clause that expunges any cannabis-related charges from the record of anyone convicted in Illinois, a huge boon for social rights, considering the African-American community has been unfairly affected by such misdemeanors.

Already it’s clear that Chicagoans especially were clamoring for such legalization, as January 1 saw record-shattering revenue of $3.2 million in recreational cannabis sales. So not only will it help adversely affected minority communities get back on their feet and into more opportunities (jobs, social services, housing, etc.), but the drastic increase in revenue should help the state emerge from its embarrassingly infamous budget struggles. The fact that 100 percent of the cannabis being sold in Illinois is grown in-state is another way the law aims to boost the local economy.

Photo courtesy of Maribis of Chicago/Facebook

If you’re looking to partake this year, here’s what you need to know and where you can stock up (in allotted amounts):

First things first: Recreational cannabis is now treated similarly to alcohol, meaning you must be 21 or older to purchase and consume. However, the main difference right now is that unlike alcohol, cannabis can only be consumed in the comfort of your own home. There currently are no cannabis lounges or bars of any sort, so once you snag your supply from the licensed dispensary, you must bring it home before lighting up or snacking on edibles. You can also only purchase a certain amount, and that means no more than 30g of plant materials, 500mg of edibles, or 5g of cannabis concentrate. Anyone who meets the legal age can buy these amounts in Illinois, whether you’re a resident or otherwise—you just can’t transport it out of state or fly with it.

Now…where to purchase. Since the law is brand-new, it’s not surprising that there are currently only a few dozen-ish licensed dispensaries in the entire state, including 10 in Chicago. If this is your first visit to a dispensary, fear not. There’s nothing to be intimidated or nervous about. As long as you are of age and have ID to prove it, you’re free to peruse these colorful and engaging shops, staffed by friendly and informative employees who are more than able to assist you with recommendations and suggestions. The following is a list of sites where you can purchase recreational cannabis in Chicago currently:

Dispensary33 in Andersonville 
Columbia Care in Portage Park 
The Herbal Care Center in Little Italy 
Maribis of Chicago in Archer Heights 
MedMar/Sunnyside Dispensary in Lakeview 
Midway Dispensary by Midway International Airport 
Mission Illinois in South Chicago 
MOCA Modern Cannabis in Logan Square 
NuMed Chicago in Lincoln Park 
Zen Leaf Chicago in Norwood Park 

You can also visit dispensaries in Mundelein, Mount Prospect, Buffalo Grove, Evanston, Addison, Elmwood Park, Oak Park, North Aurora, Joliet, Morris, Ottawa, Romeoville, Homewood, Posen, Worth, Justice, and beyond. Expect this list to grow enormously as the year progresses, as the state is in the midst of processing new applications and licenses.