Lake View’s newest pot dispensary is within a home run’s distance of Wrigley Field.
Sunnyside Wrigleyville opened less than 400 feet from the Friendly Confines Monday with the hopes of serving weed-inclined fans, concert-goers and other North Siders.
The dispensary, which is 10,000 square feet in size, sits in a row of bar and restaurants after it took over the space formerly occupied by the shuttered John Barleycorn bar at 3524 N. Clark St. It will sell marijuana vapes, edibles, pre-rolls and more to casual stoners and medical marijuana patients alike. The store also offers the smokable flower, as well as concentrates, infused beverages and a slew of branded merchandise.
“Sunnyside is [dedicated] to normalizing the way that people shop for Cannabis,” said Charlie Bachtell, CEO of Cresco Labs, which operates 10 Sunnyside locations in Illinois, at a Monday ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“There should be no stigma associated with it. The fact that we are here sort of at the intersection of ‘Main’ and ‘Main’ is the future of cannabis.”
The new flagship shop will replace a smaller Sunnyside store two blocks north that originally opened as a medical marijuana dispensary before recreational use was legalized at the start of 2020. The new location is more than 10 times the size of its predecessor and features 21 registers.
“It’s definitely good for the community,” said customer Alec Slapinksi, of Elgin, who was at the opening Monday. “I just feel like it uplifts everyone. It brings everyone in a better mood. It’s legal. It’s nice to be able to buy it.”
State politicians also lined up to celebrate the opening.
“I hope [this] will be an opportunity to give people what they want — and that is a safe place to purchase and a product that they can trust,” said State Rep. La Shawn Ford, who traveled outside his West Side district to attend the opening but who was involved in writing legislation on marijuana legalization.
The old dispensary at 3812 N. Clark St. will be repurposed as the Illinois Cannabis Education Center and will provide cannabis instruction, centered on weed entrepreneurship and the history of the war on drugs, to members of communities adversely impacted by the war on drugs.
“You can’t normalize and professionalize cannabis without bringing social equity into that conversation,” said Chima Enyia, the vice president of social equity and educational development at Cresco Labs.
“We have to lift as we climb. As Cresco makes more money, we need to lift everybody else up as well.”
There’s no doubt the company is making more money in recent months: although sales figures for individual shops are not made public, through the end of last month, recreational pot sales topped $1.12 billion statewide for the year. October saw $123 million in sales, a record.
But the current operators of weed shops in Illinois are almost exclusively white, and the state’s plan to award 185 licenses to owners that meet social equity criteria is stalled in court.
Enyia hopes the center, which will open in early 2022, will help launch the careers of many minority cannabis entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, Ford and state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (6th) touted the economic benefits of legal weed, saying taxes on the cannabis industry have become critical public revenue sources in the last two years.
“This has been a long time coming. I’m very excited about today. I can’t wait to take a tour, and, of course, a sample,” Feigenholtz quipped.