Cannabis lounges are making a successful start in Illinois, with one location already turning over $750,000 in its first month. The industry is still waiting on the green light from state lawmakers to allow cannabis consumption at other locations.
Cannabis smoking lounges, which have been sluggish to open in Illinois since the legalization of marijuana last year, are now getting off the ground, with two already operating and more planned throughout the state.
There are plans to establish facilities in West Peoria and Carbondale, in addition to the bring-your-own marijuana consumption sites that are already operational in DeKalb and Sesser.
Smoking marijuana in public, such as on the street or in parks, in public buildings, and on private property, such as hotels or apartments, is still prohibited. The lounges provide people 21 and above a legal location to smoke or vape, as well as social events where they may enjoy the experience with friends or acquaintances. Because the lounges that have opened thus far are unable to sell cannabis, customers must bring their own.
Investors in West Peoria are hoping to establish a cannabis club before the end of the year. On the location of the old Sky Harbor Steak House, it would be named High Harbor. After the renovations are finished, organizers intend to provide comedy nights, music, educational and business events, and yoga sessions, according to real estate agent Christina Patellaro.
The City Council approved zoning for the idea this summer. Ronald DiGiacomo, the founder and vice president of Trinity Compassionate Care Centers, which has two cannabis shops in Peoria, is one of the investors.
On the 10th and 11th of September, High Harbor and Trinity will host an outdoor festival on the West Peoria site, with vendors, craftsmen, live art and music, and no on-site cannabis sales, just bring-your-own use.
“We want to create a space where individuals can consume cannabis while still being creative,” Patellaro added.
A recreational cannabis shop in Carbondale has proposed establishing what would seem to be the state’s first dispensary with a consumption area. Consume Cannabis is planning to construct the facility, which would require consumers to purchase their product there, after the City Council decided to legalize such lounges this summer.
Economic Development Director Steven Mitchell said, “The City Council is fully supportive of cannabis businesses.” “Cannabis has existed since the beginning of time. In the 1960s and 1970s, Southern Illinois University had a reputation as a hippie haven. A new culture was brought to the region by many people from the Chicago area, and it has remained.”
Although Southern Illinois University in Carbondale has a new cannabis research facility, cannabis is usually prohibited on campus, thus the lounge may serve as a substitute. Dr. Christine Heck, the manager of Consume Cannabis and the CEO of Progressive Treatment Solutions, which is permitted to cultivate cannabis in East St. Louis, did not respond to a request for comment.
Holly Roeder anticipated some young stoner clients when she launched the Luna Lounge in rural Sesser in July. As she found, the majority of the customers were over 40 and up to 90 years old, and they were all medical marijuana users.
She said, “We have 60- and 70-year-old guys coming in with their tie dye.” “I adore it.”
The Luna Lounge is flourishing more than a month after opening, attracting audiences of up to 70 people on Saturday evenings to hear musicians. Customers may bring their own marijuana and rent or purchase pipes or bongs to smoke since it isn’t licensed to sell cannabis or alcohol. There have been no issues, according to officials.
Aroma’s Hookah Bar in DeKalb, another college town, sells tobacco as well as allowing clients to bring their own marijuana. Since launching in June, the shop has run promos such as a $12 charge for unlimited time in its lounge smoking cannabis, or $5 on Wednesdays with free arcade games. Customers may order food and nonalcoholic beverages, as well as play board games.
Co-owner Cameron Dye said the summer was slower than he had anticipated, but that now that Northern Illinois University is starting autumn courses, he expects more students to come in. However, Northern Illinois University does not allow cannabis on campus. Last weekend, he intended to be at Corn Fest, handing out advertising flyers with back-to-school discounts.
He said, “It’s so fresh that people don’t believe it’s genuine.” “They couldn’t believe it, particularly because it happened just across the street from the police station. When we tell them everything’s OK, they’re blown away.”
Customer Carla Curry claimed she can’t smoke at home because she lives in publicly subsidized housing in Sesser, Illinois, which has a population of 1,900 people and is a five-hour trip from Chicago.
Curry, a 55-year-old grandmother who used to work in a boat manufacturing, had three back operations and a medical marijuana license.
Customers, she claims, have a connection since they all have the same pain and anxiety therapy. Cannabis is generally seen as innocuous or helpful in a region plagued by methamphetamine addiction, according to users.
The Percocet, Xanax, and muscle relaxants “nearly killed me,” she claimed. She claims that cannabis has enabled her to stop using all of those medications. She said, “It altered my life.”
“It’s like family,” she remarked of her fellow consumers. “Everyone is delighted to see you.”
In his free time, Chris Duke, an IESO professional licensed cannabis grower, works in the lounge’s converted bank vault, teaching clients how to use water pipes, bongs, and other paraphernalia.
“People are shocked at how relaxed the atmosphere is,” he added. “Everyone seems to be having a wonderful time, laughing and conversing….” ‘Hey, what are you smoking?’ people ask. Everyone contributes. People really interact and converse with one another.”
In Chicago, there are still roadblocks to the establishment of smoking establishments. The City Council has yet to act on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to authorize consumption sites, while state legislation to expand consumption sites and cannabis tours failed to pass last session but is expected to be revisited.