Updated at 11:30 a.m., March 3, with comments from Erich Mauff, president of Jushi Holdings Inc., which now owns the dispensary in Sauget.
Editor's Note: This story was originally published in the Belleville News-Democrat.
SAUGET — The Green Solution dispensary in Sauget started selling adult-use cannabis on Monday morning. The dispensary is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and accepts cash only.
The dispensary, located at 2021 Goose Lake Road, is the second to begin adult-use sales to the Metro East since recreational marijuana became legal in Illinois on Jan. 1.
Anticipating the kind of demand that has brought crowds to the Illinois Supply & Provisions dispensary in Collinsville, the Green Solution roped off lines and established overflow parking at surrounding sites, including GCS Ballpark, home of the Gateway Grizzlies minor league baseball team.
By noon, however, customers filtered in and out of the store, with the lines never extending beyond the building’s exit.
Jeff Adams, who was buying recreational for the first time in Illinois, said the lines were short inside as well. He was in and out of the dispensary in a few minutes, he said.
“I don’t think people really know about it,” Adams said. “That’s what we were talking about inside — I know there’s still two-hour lines at Collinsville.”
Adams said he and his friends had driven past the Collinsville location a few times but didn’t stop to stand in line.
Illinois Supply & Provision began recreational sales Jan. 1, the first day that adult-use sales were legal in Illinois. Since January, lines have stretched outside of the building and often into nearby streets. The wait is often more than an hour long.
In the first 31 days of legal sales of recreational cannabis in Illinois, roughly $39.2 million in sales were recorded, according to the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
The Green Solution received the go-ahead to start sales in January, The Green Solution received the go-ahead to start sales in January, but did not immediately start selling to adults because it was in the middle of an acquisition, said Erich Mauff, president of Jushi Holdings Inc., which now owns the dispensary.
“Once we got the [acquisition] approval, we needed to get the space set up so it could accommodate both medical and recreational customers,” he said. “We had to get staffed up. You can't rush these things.” but representatives with the dispensary said there was still work to do before recreational sales could actually start.
The dispensary will continue to operate as “The Green Solution,” before transitioning to Jushi’s “BEYOND/HELLO” dispensary brand later this year, Mauff said.
“Part of the reason that we’ve done what we’re calling a soft launch is for us to get staff trained and point of sales systems up and running so people can move through relatively quickly,” he explained.
Illinois’ new recreational market is attractive to Jushi because the state had a well-regulated medical market before transitioning, Mauff said.
“It’s not like the wild wild west,” he said. “[Illinois has] good regulators; you know how many stores, growers and processors there are. You know how to get the product tested.”
The 8,000-square-foot Green Solution facility has been open since 2016, when it was licensed for medical cannabis sales.
Richard Melching Sr., a regular medical cannabis customer, said he didn’t know the Green Solution had gone recreational until he pulled into the parking lot with two of his friends Monday.
He said while it’s exciting for some, the news is bittersweet for patients like himself.
“I was kind of bumming,” he said. “I’m all for recreational, but as a patient, it’s a big pain in our butt as far as product goes. Product just isn’t available, and when it is, they limit it to a certain amount.”
He said he and other medical cannabis users are struggling to find their product due to legalized recreational sales, and he’s concerned that the supply can’t keep up with demand in both markets. Demand may level out once the excitement of legalization subsides, he added.
Kavahn Mansouri is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio. This article includes additional reporting from St. Louis Public Radio's Metro East reporter, Eric Schmid.
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