Illinois cities, businesses prepare for legal recreational marijuana sales in 1 month

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The demand for pot is about to explode on January 1 as Illinois rings in the new year with legalized recreational adult marijuana use.

With time ticking, questions about the new law grow.

Certain dispensaries will open their doors on New Year's Day.

RELATED: Illinois Weed Legalization Guide

Illinois new cannabis czar Toi Hutchinson said the state's 55 medical operators are the first to get recreational licenses. Many will be up and running as dual purpose operators on January 1.

"The first ones that we will be operating will be the existing medical operators that will already be servicing patients," Hutchinson said.

Your recreational use dispensary experience will mirror that of a medical use one, although with a bit less security. Currently, medical patients have to pass through several locked doors before entering the sales room.

When FloraMedex in Elmwood Park reopens as Sunnyside to include recreational use, layers of security will be removed. All customers will enter through the front door with a state ID to prove they are 21 and older. They will then proceed directly to the sales room.

"We do have monitors here so you can scroll our live menu on what we have in stock, you can also work with a wellness adviser to go over different options," said Gabriel Vale, who works as a wellness adviser.

RELATED: Illinois Weed Legalization Guide: Will your city or town sell marijuana?

There are cannabis options for sleep, relaxation or energy. It comes in different consumption forms and prices. Oils and concentrated products are at the top of the price range.

Because it is a cash business, most dispensaries also have ATM machines.

"They'll be no consumption inside the dispensaries. Everything is prepackaged. We don't even touch the product," Vale said.

If there is more demand than supply, medical marijuana customers have priority. They are also taxed differently.

If buying a $50 dollar flower product and $50 edible product, it will cost medical patients $104.75, which includes state and local tax.

Recreational users will pay 20% tax on the edible product, which is THC-infused, and 25% tax on the flower product, making the total cost $132.50.

According to the law, any cannabis product except infused products with a THC level below 35% will be subject to a 10% tax, any cannabis product except infused products with a THC level above 35% will be taxed 25%, and cannabis-infused products will be taxed at 20%.

Illinois' cannabis czar is reminding residents that you cannot use legal marijuana in public places.

"There is no public consumption, you cannot drive with this anymore than you could with alcohol, you can't show up for work inebriated, you can't show up high," Hutchinson said.
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