QUINCY -- Cannabis-infused lavender-scented bath salts, cannabis-infused lemon-flavored throat lozenges, cannabis-infused grape soda and cannabis-infused marshmallow treats are just some of the items that Quincy area residents will soon be able to purchase from the city's cannabis dispensaries, which are set to open on Jan. 1 when the purchase and recreational use of cannabis by adults over the age of 21 is legalized in Illinois.
Officials with both Rise Quincy, 2703 Broadway, and Herbal Remedies, 4440 Broadway, and the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois say large crowds of shoppers and browsers are expected that opening day, though the industry association is encouraging its member businesses to have a "soft rollout of adult use sales."
"There will be lines, but don't expect visions of Black Friday with pre-sales the evening before or at midnight," wrote the state association said in a press release. "Think of this like the grown-in-the-ground new iPhone: there will be great anticipation and many people trying to be among the first to get their hands on legal cannabis here. We foresee long lines, limited inventory and significant wait times.
Derrick Levy, a district manager with Green Thumb Industries, which is the parent company for Rise Quincy, said he expects Jan. 1 to mirror his experiences of opening a dispensary in Colorado, which was one of the first states to legalize the sale and purchase of cannabis.
"We are expecting a little bit of controlled chaos that first day," Levy said. "In 2014 in Colorado, we saw lines out the door and around the block for the first couple of days. We still had long lines really for the first several months. Quincy is a unique location because you have a fairly good size city with so many close other communities, so because of that we are expecting to see a lot of people in the dispensary who are not from Quincy."
Under the state law, Illinois residents over the age of 21 may legally possess 30 grams of cannabis flower, 500 milligrams of THC in a cannabis-infused product and 5 grams of cannabis concentrate. Non-Illinois residents may possess up to 15 grams of cannabis flower, 250 milligrams of THC in a cannabis-infused product and 2.5 grams of cannabis concentrate. The new law does not allow for the use of cannabis or cannabis-infused products in public. It also remains illegal for cannabis or cannabis-infused products to be transported across state lines.
Per this new law, the purchase of cannabis and cannabis-related products can only be done at state-licensed dispensary. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is the state agency responsible for issuing the licenses. To date, the state has issued 37 licenses to dispensaries throughout the state, including Herbal Remedies. The state has not announced a license for Rise Quincy, but officials with the company say they have been told by the state an announcement regarding their approval for a license is pending.
Earlier this year, the Quincy City Council approved a special sales tax that will be applied to all cannabis related purchases made in the city. In addition to the city's existing 8% sales tax, those purchases will be taxed an additional 3%, which is the highest percentage allowed under the state law. City officials say it remains unclear how much revenue the marijuana sales tax will generate for the city, with some estimates ranging from $60,000 to $150,000.
The Adams County Board also voted in September to create a new 3% sales tax on any dispensary operating in the city limits of a home-rule city, such as Quincy. If the dispensary opened in an unincorporated area of the county, the sales tax would be 3.75%.
In addition to creating new sales tax revenue, the legalization of cannabis also is credited with creating new employment opportunities as workers find jobs in dispensaries, cultivation centers and other facilities related to cannabis production.
In Barry, Ascend Illinois continues to hire new employees for the cultivation and processing center the company owns in that community. To date, nearly 100 employees have been hired in 2019.
According to spokesperson Chris McCloud, Ascend Illinois looks for employees who have some background in engineering, chemistry, botany and horticulture.
Back in Quincy, Herbal Remedies has 40 employees, which is double the amount of employees the company just last year.
At Rise Quincy, the dispensary will employ between 20 to 25 full-time employees, known as patient care specialists.
Both dispensary representatives said their facilities continue to be renovated in preparation for opening to the public.
Herbal Remedies is opening its recreational use dispensary in a vacant storefront that is next to its medical use dispensary. Herbal Remedies Chief Operating Officer Christine "Chris" Wildrick said last month that the remodeled storefront was nearly complete.
The company has also said they are looking to potentially open a 6,000-square foot dispensary in downtown Quincy, but a site for this dispensary has not been announced.
Rise Quincy and Green Thumb Industries converted the former Outdoor Power dealership into its dispensary with 6,618 total square feet including 1,840 square feet of retail space.
Both Levy and Wildrick say they expect a lot of first-time cannabis buyers and users in their dispensaries next month.
"A lot of people don't know what to expect when they walk into a dispensary," Levy said. "I think we are all preparing for a lot of surprised people who are going to come in and be surprised by how many different types of products we have in the dispensary."
Products sold at both Herbal Remedies and Rise Quincy will be packaged in a sealed, odorless and child-resistant container as dictated by both state law and city ordinances. The display of loose products is prohibited.
Products at the dispensaries range from CBD oils, capsules, tinctures, shatter, or a cannabis concentrate that packs up to 80% of cannabinoid content; live resin, which is another cannabis concentrate that gets its name from the freshness of the cannabis plant; budder, which has a soft, solid consistency similar to a stick of butter; crumbles, which is sometimes called honeycomb wax, because when dried the product looks porous like a honeycomb; and the traditional loose buds, which are dried cannabis flowers.
For more information about Rise Quincy, visit the company's website at iheartjane.com. For additional information about Herbal Remedies, visit herbalremediesil.com.