Illinois Marijuana | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois Marijuana

The Green Solution in Sauget will now be able to sell marijuana to recreational users. The dispensary has not said when it will start recreational sales.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

SAUGET — There are now two places in the Metro East where people can legally purchase recreational marijuana.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation awarded the Green Solution in Sauget a “same-site” license Wednesday, which allows the dispensary to open its doors to recreational users in addition to the medical marijuana patients it already serves. The department also awarded a license for a recreational-only site in Quincy.  

Officials from the Green Solution did not respond to requests for comment before our deadline.

Mondays Are For Medical: Collinsville Dispensary Cuts Back On Recreational Sales

Jan 15, 2020
A long line formed early New Year's Day at Illinois Supply & Provisions in Collinsville, the only legal place to purchase recreational marijuana in the St. Louis region. The company has announced that only medical marijuana will be sold on Mondays.
Derik Holtmann | Belleville News-Democrat

The Metro East’s sole recreational cannabis dispensary has announced it will only sell products to medical marijuana customers on Mondays.

Starting Monday, Jan. 20, Illinois Supply & Provisions will only sell cannabis to medical marijuana customers on Mondays for the remainder of 2020 in an effort to better serve its medical customer base and help preserve its inventory.

Have a question about legal marijuana in Illinois or medical marijuana in Missouri? Ask here, and we'll update this guide with answers as we report them out.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 15 with more answers to reader questions —

2020 will be a year of new marijuana laws. Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana on Jan. 1, six years after Colorado first started recreational sales. Missouri begins medical marijuana sales later in the year — likely this spring — and thousands of residents have already received certification cards.

With totally different laws in the neighboring states, there’s an understandable level of confusion among residents: Why is it easier to get medical marijuana in Missouri than in Illinois? Where can you consume cannabis products legally? How much will marijuana cost at dispensaries? And with the ease of traveling between Missouri and Illinois in the St. Louis region, what are the rules about bringing weed across state lines?

Shoppers browse products inside a Collinsville recreational marijuana dispensary owned by Ascend Wellness Holdings. The store is at 1014 Eastport Plaza Dr.
Ascend Wellness Holdings

As dispensaries across the state keep a close eye not only on the supply of their marijuana products but also their workforce to meet the demand from recreational weed customers, they may begin looking for new “budtenders” to apply.

Some dispensaries in the state, including in Chicago and Champaign, had to close for a day this week to give their staff a break because of a shortage of state-approved employees available to handle transactions.

People line up at Illinois Supply and Provisions in Collinsville on Jan. 2, 2020 to purchase recreational cannabis products.
Lexi Cortes | Belleville News-Democrat

The biggest party in town on New Year’s Day may well have been outside Illinois Supply & Provisions. Metro area residents stood in line for hours outside the Collinsville shop with the goal of purchasing legal marijuana products. Illinois just became the 11th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. 

St. Louis Public Radio reporter Eric Schmid was at the shop on New Year's Day, and on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, he joined host Sarah Fenske to discuss what people should know about buying and consuming Illinois’ recreational marijuana in 2020 and beyond.

Illinois’ recreational cannabis dispensaries made around $3.2 million in sales on New Year’s Day, according to early estimates from a state agency overseeing the now-legal industry.

Legal Marijuana Sales Start In Collinsville And Across Illinois

Jan 1, 2020
Long lines at the Collinsville dispensary greeted the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in Illinois.
Belleville News-Democrat

COLLINSVILLE — The first day of 2020 has been highly anticipated for many — from baby boomers who remember smoking pot before the government declared the drug wasn’t safe to Medicaid patients who have waited to use cannabis for pain management in place of pills.

It is the first time anyone 21 years old or older can legally buy marijuana in Illinois, the 11th state to legalize weed for people other than medical cannabis patients.

Cannabis flower grows at a recreational grow facility in Illinois. Sales of recreational marijuana started Illinois Jan 1.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

Cannabis plants grow inside Ascend Illinois indoor facility in Barry, IL. Ascend owns two existing medical dispensaries and plans to open two additional recreational dispensaries early next year.
File Photo | Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

BELLEVILLE — Supplies of recreational marijuana in Illinois will likely be tight when the drug is fully legalized on Jan 1. A group of state lawmakers wrote a joint letter this month expressing their concerns.

“Each state that has implemented an adult-use cannabis program has had issues related to supply shortages,” wrote the group, including state Sens. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, and Laura Fine, D-Glenview, and state Reps. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago; Bob Morgan, D-Highwood; Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria; Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, and David Welter, R-Morris.

Cannabis flower grows at a recreational grow facility in Illinois. Sales of recreational marijuana started Illinois Jan 1.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

Employers in Missouri may face many of the same challenges surrounding legal recreational marijuana as their Illinois counterparts.

Possession and consumption of the drug without a medical card will still be illegal in Missouri in the new year. But there’s nothing limiting residents from crossing the Mississippi River and consuming marijuana legally in Illinois as of Jan. 1. 

Belleville Clears Way For Pot Sales, But No Companies Have Applied To Open A Dispensary

Dec 23, 2019
Cannabis flower grows at a recreational grow facility in Illinois. Sales of recreational marijuana started Illinois Jan 1.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

BELLEVILLE — Officials here don’t have a proposal from a company that wants to locate a recreational marijuana dispensary in the city, but aldermen have cleared the path for the zoning changes necessary to allow the sales.

If a dispensary opens in the city, it must be in either a commercial or industry zoning district, according to changes unanimously approved by the City Council on Thursday. 

Lawyer Benjamin Wesselschmidt explains the new recreational cannabis law at the St. Clair County Country Club on Nov. 21. Many employers are re-thinking their drug testing policies since recreational marijuana will be legal on Jan. 1, 2020.
Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

BELLEVILLE — Ahead of the new year, local businesses and employers across Illinois are trying to determine how legal recreational marijuana will impact them. 

The law change, which came only six months ago, is forcing many employers to rethink how their workplaces handle drug policy and testing.

A worker trims marijuana plants in Ascend Illinois' growing facility in Barry, IL.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

On the final Politically Speaking roundup show of 2019, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue and Jason Rosenbaum look at some of the headlines that made an impact in the waning days of the year.

O’Donoghue talked with St. Louis Public Radio reporter Eric Schmid about impending legalization of marijuana in Illinois. It’s a move that will have a profound impact on towns in the Metro East — and on neighboring states like Missouri.

Fairview Heights Mayor Mark Kupsky adresses the council on Dec. 17, before they vote to allow cannabis sales in the community. The council voted 7-3 to allow cannabis related businesses to open in the community.
Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — The city council voted 7-3 Tuesday night to allow cannabis-related businesses to come to the city. Aldermen made the decision quickly with almost no debate on the issue.

Fairview Heights joins five other Metro East communities that will allow cannabis sales next year when recreational marijuana use for adults is legal.

Cannabis plants grow inside Ascend Illinois indoor facility in Barry, IL. Ascend owns two existing medical dispensaries and plans to open two additional recreational dispensaries early next year.
File Photo | Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

Updated at 8:15 p.m., Dec. 17:

By a vote of 7-3, the Fairview Heights City Council voted to allow and tax recreational cannabis sales in the city.

Original story from 8:30 a.m., Dec. 17:

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — The city council will decide if it wants to allow and tax recreational cannabis sales in the community at its meeting on Tuesday night. 

Fairview Heights finds itself facing a decision similar to the one other Metro East communities did after Illinois state legislators voted to allow recreational marijuana use for people 21 and older starting Jan. 1.

The Green Solution in Sauget will now be able to sell marijuana to recreational users. The dispensary has not said when it will start recreational sales.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois becomes the 11th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana on Jan. 1, six years after Colorado started to allow recreational sales. The cannabis industry grew rapidly in that time, and so did claims about the plant’s properties and effects.

Joseph DiVerdi doesn’t believe those assertions. He should know. DiVerdi is a cannabis researcher and chemistry professor at Colorado State University.

“The hype totally outstripes knowledge,” he said. “The lack of hard data has permitted opinion to run wild and rampant. There are so many things attributed to the cannabis plant that are far beyond what might be considered reasonable.” 

The Green Solution in Sauget will now be able to sell marijuana to recreational users. The dispensary has not said when it will start recreational sales.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

EDWARDSVILLE — Metro East cities that want to allow cannabis-related businesses are starting to decide where these establishments can set up shop in their communities.

The Edwardsville City Council made its decision Tuesday night when it voted 7-0 to establish new zoning rules and other restrictions for cannabis businesses that may come to the city. 

Recreational marijuana facility in San Francisco, California in Nov. 2018
File photo | Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri has already approved more than 17,000 patients for its yet-to-be-launched medical marijuana program — a stark contrast to neighboring Illinois, which had fewer than 3,000 patients in the first 10 months. 

Licenses for Missouri’s dispensaries are expected to be awarded by January, and cannabis should be available for medical card holders by spring. 

At their core, Missouri and Illinois programs do the same thing: They allow doctors to certify patients to use cannabis if they have a qualifying condition. But there are significant differences in the details of each law, including who has access, how they’re getting access and how the programs can be changed in the future.

An airforce member recieves instructions on a drug test. After January 1st, Illinois employers cannot simply rely on a drug test to ensure drug free work environments.
Ashley Gardner | Shaw Air Force Base

BELLEVILLE — Recreational cannabis will be legal in Illinois in less than two months, and some employers are scrambling to understand what legalization will mean for their drug-free policies. 

Specifically, the new law pits an employee’s right to use marijuana recreationally on their own time against an employer’s ability to enforce drug-free policies under Illinois’ Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act

Legal Marijuana Is Coming To Illinois, But What Will Happen If You Bring It To Missouri?

Nov 3, 2019
The Green Solution in Sauget will now be able to sell marijuana to recreational users. The dispensary has not said when it will start recreational sales.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

While people who are at least 21 will be able to purchase recreational marijuana legally starting on Jan. 1 in Illinois, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to bring the cannabis into Missouri.

However with such ease of travel between the Missouri and Illinois, with multiple bridges connecting the two states in the St. Louis-area, someone is bound to bring legally purchased weed from the Land of Lincoln to the Show Me State.

The Green Solution in Sauget will now be able to sell marijuana to recreational users. The dispensary has not said when it will start recreational sales.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration acknowledges that the war on cannabis disproportionately affects low-income communities of color. 

State officials are now taking steps to ensure those who’ve been negatively impacted have a leg up when Illinois legalizes adult-use cannabis in 2020.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity released a map earlier this week highlighting the parts of the state hardest hit by the criminalization of cannabis. 

Here’s How Much St. Clair County Plans To Tax For Recreational Cannabis Sales

Sep 17, 2019
The Green Solution in Sauget will now be able to sell marijuana to recreational users. The dispensary has not said when it will start recreational sales.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

With recreational cannabis sales set to become legal in Illinois in 2020, St. Clair County officials are setting tax rates and eyeing where the new revenue might go.

The board voted to set tax rates on recreational sales at a special meeting of the county board Monday night with all attending board members voting in favor of the ordinance.

Under the new ordinance, sales can be taxed up to 3.75% in 0.25% increments for sales in unincorporated areas of St. Clair County and up to 3% in 0.25% increments in county municipalities.

Amanda Vinicky is a correspondent for WTTW in Chicago.
Matthew Penning

Earlier this week, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation that will soon make recreational marijuana legal in the state. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, and makes Illinois the 11th state to allow recreational use.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann went behind the headlines on the news with Amanda Vinicky of Chicago public media outlet WTTW.

They discussed the leadup to the legislation, what makes Illinois’ route to legalization distinctive and what it all means for citizens.

Since February, patients in Illinois have been able to swap their opioid prescriptions for marijuana. And many are doing just that.

Illinois has been mulling over the idea of legalizing recreational cannabis for years. While some proponents tout it as a social justice issue, others focus on the additional revenue it could bring in for the cash-strapped state.

With growing support among politicians and the public, Illinois could likely legalize recreational marijuana as soon as next year. But, passing legislation may hinge on where the revenue will go. 

HCI Alternatives in Collinsville is one of 53 medical cannabis dispensaries licensed by the State of Illinois
File Photo | Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Regulators and dispensary operators are taking stock of medical marijuana in Illinois as the state's program hits the two-year mark. The Illinois Department of Public Health says it has approved approximately 31,500 patients for the program, compared to more than 36,000 who have completed the application process. It has also approved more than 50 dispensaries throughout the state, including HCI Alternatives in Collinsville.

Colorful photos hang on the walls at HCI Alternatives in Collinsville. The marijuana dispensary is set up like a typical doctor's office.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A small building nestled off Interstate 70 in Collinsville looks like a typical doctor’s office, until you get inside and look up close at the colorful artwork on the walls. They’re portraits of marijuana plants.

At this dispensary, about 12 miles east of the Missouri border, patients and the medical staff have lively conversations about the various medical marijuana products available, from brownies and blueberry-flavored candies to transdermal patches.

Medical cannabis related products are sold at a medical cannabis outreach clinic in Shelbyville, Ilinois, on April 29, 2017
Jeff Bossert | Illinois Public Media

Medical marijuana has been available in Illinois for about 18 months. But many people around the state, particularly in Southern Illinois, say they can't find a doctor in their area to help them. A few groups have found a way to change that — they're now bringing doctors directly to the patients with qualifying conditions. More than 30 hopeful patients registered for a recent clinic in Shelbyville, held by Medical Cannabis Outreach.

Army Veteran Gabrielle Hyde suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, which often means sleep deprivation and frequent panic attacks. And that means she’s limited in what she and her family can do.

Front of building for HCI Alternatives
(courtesy HCI Alternatives)

The 5,000-square foot facility is the first of its kind in the Metro East.

One of just 23 medical cannabis dispensaries licensed in Illinois, HCI Alternatives opened its doors at noon on Monday in Collinsville.

"It’s been a very long road, and we’re all really excited," said Scott Abbott, director of HCI security and compliance, "and I know a lot of the patients who have been calling us are equally excited."

While former Governor Pat Quinn signed Illinois’ Compassionate Care Act into law in August 2013, legal marijuana sales did not begin until November.