Illinois’ first marijuana lounge gets approved, hours away from Chicago. ‘It’s going to be an experience.’
A Springfield marijuana dispensary is the first in the state to get approval to open a spot for people to smoke weed.
Illinois Supply and Provisions plans to connect the space to its marijuana shop in downtown Springfield. The company is still working on the concept and has not set an opening date.
“It’s going to be more than just a big open room where people can smoke cannabis,” said spokesman Chris McCloud. “It’s going to be well done, it’s going to be tastefully done, and it’s going to be an experience.”
Springfield’s city council approved the company’s request Monday night to open the space.
Recreational marijuana went on sale in Illinois Jan. 1, but state law bans smoking in streets, parks or other public areas. Condominium associations and landlords also can prohibit marijuana use. Municipalities can regulate public consumption areas.
Springfield Alderwoman Erin Conley said the space will help clear up issues for renters whose landlords have banned marijuana use, and travelers.
“We do have a lot of tourists, we’ve already seen a fair amount of out-of-town visitors coming to our dispensary, and we have a lot of hotels downtown where people cannot consume," she said. “I thought it was better to have a place ... for people to reasonably partake in something that’s legal in Illinois.”
In Chicago, people are allowed to use marijuana in their backyards or on their balconies. There is no plan in place to establish public spaces for weed use in Chicago.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot was pushing a plan that would have allowed smoke shops to buy licenses allowing on-site weed consumption, but it stalled earlier this month.
Besides the Springfield location, Illinois Supply and Provisions operates a dispensary in Collinsville. It plans to open two more recreational-only marijuana stores in Springfield and Fairview Heights this year.
Kathleen Olivastro, regional director of the dispensaries, said in a statement that with such stringent consumption laws in place, it is important to have designated areas where people can consume.
"We’ve already started to redefine the cannabis retail experience with our customers and know an experience like this will be greatly anticipated,” she said in the statement.