For Illinois, the new year came with the legalization of marijuana throughout the state. The new law, signed in June 2019 and implemented on Jan. 1, made it legal to grow, sell, possess and consume cannabis recreationally for those 21 and over. Use remains prohibited on campus due to it remaining illegal federally.
It is easy to feel intimidated by going to a dispensary for the first time. Sam Beem, senior, visited the Peoria dispensary over break and urges newcomers to not be nervous.
“Most of these dispensaries (in Illinois) have a great deal of experience with this stuff, having worked with medical patients for years prior,” he said.
As far as what it looks like and how it works, Beem thought it was pretty mundane, and compared the entrance waiting room to the DMV. It is important to have a state issued ID with you, or you won’t even be allowed in. Once you show your ID, you are given a number and when you are called you enter the store itself.
“It reminded me a bit of an Apple store, in that it was very minimalist and clean,” Beem said.
One thing that caught Beem off guard was that you don’t actually get to see the products laid out physically in front of you. Rather, there is a tablet and TVs at each counter where you can view products from a screen and decide what you want from that. While Beem didn’t expect this, he thought it worked well as it was organized and easy to find what you want.
At the Peoria dispensary — and possibly others — customers are limited to one purchase only. Another important note is that medical marijuana users take precedent over those buying for recreational use, so be prepared to wait a while if you’re not a patient. In case the dispensary doesn’t have an ATM, and since most are still cash-only, you should also bring enough cash to buy what you want. Keep in mind, the state tax is pretty high, and varies depending on what you’re buying. For just flower, the rate is 10%, edibles or anything else infused with cannabis is 20% and anything that has a THC concentration above 35% has a 25% tax rate.
Product wise, Beem said there were vaporizers, wax or shatter, edibles tinctures, and actual flower marijuana — although the Peoria dispensary was sold out of flower on the day he went.
“I’m sure as the excitement wears off, the demand will go down and (flower will) become more readily available,” Beem said.
There were also accessories such as pipes, bongs, hookahs, grinders, containers, and merchandise for the store itself.
While the Peoria dispensary is one option, the Galesburg dispensary is set for opening in early February at the corner of Main Street and Henderson. Not all dispensaries run the same, but being informed is one of the best ways to ensure things run smoothly.