Nicollette Rodriguez (left) and Tom Gliszewski co-own Chicago Cannabis Company with Drew Schneider (not pictured). Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago

LINCOLN PARK — When Nicollette Rodriguez founded Chicago Cannabis Company with co-owner Tom Gliszewski in 2018, she was working as a bilingual high school teacher and started using CBD to help with stress.

“It really improved my quality of life,” Rodriguez said. “With teaching being a stressful job, CBD helped me sleep better at night and organize my thoughts and planning. It revolutionized my life.”

Now, Rodriguez and Gliszewski hope to help others discover the same uses for CBD and other cannabis products through Chicago Cannabis Company‘s first brick-and-mortar store, which opened in April at 2501 N. Halsted St.

“I realized this is something so many people can benefit from — not just teachers,” Rodriguez said. “It became my personal mission for me to share the [properties of CBD and other cannabis products] with more people.”

Chicago Cannabis Company offers everything from cannabinoid-infused tinctures to treats like gummies. Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago

Chicago Cannabis Company specializes in CBD cannabis extracts and other cannabinoid-infused products, ranging from gummies to seltzers and other drinks, Rodriguez said.

The infused beverages are made through a partnership with locally owned Marz Community Brewing Company, Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez and Gliszewski started infusing cannabinoids — the compounds found in cannabis that cause the plant’s desired effects — in 2018 after the passage of the Farm Bill, which federally legalized cannabis containing less than .3 percent THC.

At the same time, Gliszewski’s parents had moved to Colorado, the first state to legalize cannabis consumption and sales, so he saw firsthand the potential for the cannabis industry if it were to expand to other states.

Since then, the two have opened a manufacturing plant on the West Side and have infused everything from hot sauce to chocolate to honey.

“We’re really open to collaborating and working with other small business owners,” Rodriguez said.

The duo has brought on Drew Schneider as a third co-owner to help them as they expand in the cannabis market. The company is operated as a co-op, meaning Chicago Cannabis Company’s workers also serve as its owners.

“We come from humble beginnings, so it took a lot of ingenuity and creativity to operate within the cannabis industry,” Rodriguez said. “Opening a co-op made sense for us; and the principals in which co-ops operate, like accountability and cooperation, have been fundamental to our growth.”

In addition to finding infused products, visitors can shop from a variety of oils, vapes and flowers containing cannabinoids, including CBD, CBG, CBN and THC.

“Something we’re really focused on is highlighting the cannabis plant in its entirety,” Rodriguez said. “And we offer products for every level of cannabis consumption, from connoisseur to people trying cannabis for the first time.”

Cannabis education is “at the forefront” of Chicago Cannabis Company’s mission, Rodriguez said. In 2019, the team organized Hemp Summit that brought in cannabis experts from across the state for courses like Cannabis 101, infusion workshops and grow-your-own lessons.

More classes will be rolled out soon, Gliszewski said.

“We’re really excited to have a shop now where we can continue to offer those classes for people in the cannabis community and beyond,” Rodriguez said.

Chicago Cannabis Company is open noon-8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Customers order at the Chicago Cannabis Company counter, and staff prepare their items in the back room. Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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