11 Things To Know About Legal Recreational Marijuana In Illinois | St. Louis Public Radio

11 Things To Know About Legal Recreational Marijuana In Illinois

Dec 31, 2019

COLLINSVILLE — Legal recreational cannabis in Illinois goes on sale on Jan. 1, with at least one dispensary in the Metro East set to offer the product to both medical patients and recreational users.

Here are a few things you should know about buying and consuming Illinois’ recreational marijuana in 2020 and beyond.

Who can get it?

Anyone 21 and older can legally purchase recreational cannabis from a dispensary in Illinois. Even those from outside Illinois can buy it when they’re in the state.

Where can I buy it?

Recreational cannabis is only sold from state-approved dispensaries. Right now, there are 34 throughout the state, including Illinois Supply and Provisions at 1014 Eastport Plaza Drive in Collinsville. 

The dispensary in Collinsville is the only Metro East dispensary that will offer recreational sales on Jan. 1.

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What will I need to bring to a dispensary? 

Bring a valid government-issued ID that shows your age and home address. Dispensaries will scan IDs, as other weed-legal states do, to ensure they’re legitimate, but they’re not allowed to keep records of who goes to the shop and how often. Lawmakers wrote portions of the cannabis law to protect consumers’ privacy.

The rules don’t change for medical patients, who will still need to bring their program registry ID card. 

Bring payment. Right now, that’s going to be cash or, in limited cases, debit cards. Credit cards or checks cannot be used to purchase cannabis yet. Most dispensaries will have ATMs inside their stores. Illinois Supply and Provisions in Collinsville will also be able to accept debit cards.

How much can I get and how much will it cost?

That depends on whether you’re an Illinois resident or not. Illinois residents can purchase:

  • Up to 30 grams of cannabis flower.
  • Up to 500 milligrams of THC contained in a cannabis-infused product — like an edible. 
  • Up to 5 grams of cannabis concentrate. 

Out-of-state residents can buy half those amounts.

According to the law, these numbers are possession limits. For example, it’s illegal for someone to hop from dispensary to dispensary buying 30 grams of flower at each one. The totals are also cumulative, so someone can have up to the limit in each category of product. 

Kathleen Olivastro, Illinois Supply and Provisions Regional director, would not disclose how much individual products would cost at the Collinsville location because prices will fluctuate as supply and demand in the Illinois cannabis market begins to take shape. She did suggest first-time dispensary goers budget $150 to $200.  

Can I try before I buy?

No, not yet. Some dispensaries may add “on-site consumption lounges” in the future. These would require licensing and approval from local governments.

Will there be more dispensaries in the Metro East? When?

Yes. The Green Solution, a medical dispensary in Sauget, has applied for a “dual use” license that would allow it to sell recreational marijuana along with medical marijuana, but the state has not approved it yet. 

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act also lets any current medical dispensary apply for a license to open a secondary location in the same region. Ascend Illinois, which owns Illinois Supply and Provisions in Collinsville, wants to open an additional location in Fairview Heights by the end of March. The Green Solution also plans to open another shop, but is still looking for a secondary location. 

Illinois will also grant 75 dispensary licenses for applicants that don’t have an existing medical dispensary, but those won’t be awarded until May 1. The Metro East will see up to four of those new licenses. 

Where can I consume my products?

In private, for now. That means residences, apartments or other private property. Renters should know that landlords can prohibit cannabis use in their properties. It’s best to check with your landlord before smoking inside your home.

What about my job? Can my boss still fire me even though marijuana is legal?

Yes. The state cannabis law gives Illinois employers a lot of room to keep drug-free policies if they want them. Not every employer will decide to limit marijuana use among its workers. It’s best to check what your company’s specific drug policies are with your boss or human resources department before consuming in the new year.

The rules for Missouri employers don’t change because recreational cannabis isn’t legal in the state.

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Will there be enough cannabis?

At first, probably not, but this is normal for a new recreational market. The entire state of Illinois is currently experiencing a shortage of cannabis flower, Olivastro said. In the first months of 2020, dispensaries will likely run out of some products as cannabis production catches up.

Dispensaries also have to keep enough product on hand to serve existing medical patients in the state. If they start to run low, recreational supplies will be cut off first. Any new marijuana Illinois Supply and Provisions receives goes directly to medical patients first, Olivastro said. 

What if I live in Missouri? Can I take my marijuana back across the river? 

You must be in the state of Illinois to legally consume its marijuana. Transporting cannabis across state lines is illegal, even if it was purchased legally. 

People caught in Missouri with marijuana legally purchased in Illinois could face up to $2,000 in fines and possible jail time, depending on the amount of marijuana. 

I plan to go to Collinsville on Jan. 1 to buy legal marijuana. What else do I need to know?

The dispensary is located at 1014 Eastport Plaza Drive in Collinsville and will open at 7 a.m. Marijuana will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, and medical patients will be able to skip any lines. 

And there will be lines. Olivastro said the dispensary expects to see lots of people in the first few days of 2020. The dispensary will have pamphlets and staff working outside to answer customers' questions, she said, to streamline the buying process.

Eric Schmid covers the Metro East for St. Louis Public Radio as part of the journalism grant program Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. Follow Eric on Twitter: @EricDSchmid 

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