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River North, Gold Coast, Near North Side

City’s First Downtown Weed Dispensary Opens Thursday In River North

Customers at Cresco Lab's Sunnyside dispensary will be required to order online and check in at a different location to promote social distancing.

A rendering of Crespo Labs' new Sunnyside Dispensary in River North.
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DOWNTOWN — Chicago’s first Downtown pot shop will open in River North Thursday morning.

After a fight to be the first, Cresco Labs will open its Sunnyside dispensary at 436 N. Clark St. at 10 a.m. with a subdued “pop-up” experience that will require online pre-orders and a separate check-in location around the corner to limit large crowds because of coronavirus.

The store will be open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.

The dispensary is the first in Chicago to exclusively sell recreational weed. All others sell to both medical patients and recreational customers. Cresco Labs won the right to open in the Central Cannabis District at a lottery in November.

“We are thrilled to be opening the first adult use store in Chicago under the state’s new legislation and to provide an example of what normalized and professionalized cannabis looks like with a location in a traditional business district, a local and diverse operating team and a tremendous amount of community input and support,” said Charlie Bachtell, Cresco Labs’ CEO and co-founder.

Customers must order online and will receive a message to pick up their weed in a three-hour window. Before heading to the dispensary, customers must check in at 22 W. Hubbard St., where the company has leased space to help limit lines.

The state surprised the industry by awarding a license to both Cresco Labs and MOCA Modern Cannabis, at 216 W. Ohio St., despite the two locations being within 1,500 feet of one another. State officials determined that because no existing dispensary was present, neither were blocked by state law that requires no dispensary open within 1,500 feet of an existing pot shop.

RELATED: Cresco Labs, MOCA Score Coveted Licenses To Open Weed Shops In River North

MOCA co-owner Danny Marks told Block Club they hope to open in River North in mid-June, as they prepare “for the extra challenges with social distancing in such a high density area.”

““COVID presents some unique challenges in staffing up a store our size,” Marks said.

The River North dispensary is Cresco Labs’ seventh Sunnyside location to open in Illinois, including Sunnyside Lakeview, 3812 N. Clark St. in Chicago, and another in downstate Danville that opened Wednesday.

The company’s desire to move the Wrigleyville pot shop to a bigger location down the road took a hit over the weekend when state lawmakers failed to pass an amendment that would have fixed language in the state’s cannabis law preventing existing medical dispensaries from relocating.

While the state’s existing medical dispensaries were able to convert to dual-use sales and open second, standalone recreational only shops, Gov. JB Pritzker issued an executive order in April that indefinitely delayed the awarding of 75 new dispensary licenses aimed to expand minority-ownership in the industry.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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