Welcoming Weed With a Winding Wait

Montgomery Blair, Writer

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On Jan. 1, recreational cannabis sales opened to all those of age 21 and over. Lines were long, sales bountiful, taxes high and the flower of the day, marijuana, was scarce. Out of a sense of curiosity conjoined with the hope that enough people would be too hungover to travel out that morning, I impulsively traveled that morning to Columbia Care Chicago Dispensary located at 4758 N. Milwaukee Ave..  

My brother, a close family friend and I arrived to an already formed line between 200 and 300 people long at 9:30 a.m., 30 minutes before the dispensary opened.  The three of us immediately ran into a few friends who had coincidentally chose to visit the same spot at the same time. Their company helped pass the time until the dispensary opened.  Once the dispensary opened, the line began to creep forward a few feet every several minutes. It was a sluggish pace because they would only let a few people in at a time.  

At this time the security guard manning the front door came down the line to ensure that the crowd wasn’t blocking the sidewalk before informing a disappointed crowd that the dispensary would only be selling concentrates and no marijuana would be sold. After discovering this information, the group we had ran into wished us luck and decided to bail on the line, a decision I somewhat envy them for making.  Luck would not come our way and within minutes the entire line was cast in the shadow of the buildings we stood along, exacerbating an already cold morning.

My brother, wearing sneakers, told the two of us that he had no socks on and took off across the street to CVS and purchased a pair for himself.  Much of the wait in line was uneventful, boredom with occasional remarks and cursing the cold. After over an hour in line, I took a moment to walk back to my car and update my parking. I was thankful for the chance to take a walk as it gave me both time in the sunlight and to move, which warmed me up a bit. At 11 a.m., I added another hour to my parking, we had already waited an hour and a half, it couldn’t be much longer now; in 50 minutes we were at the door. 

After being reminded on several occasions to approach the door with our IDs ready, we were let through and checked a second security door. As tedious as the waiting was, their seats were heated and there were printouts of the products that were available along with their prices after tax. At this point, I was reminded that it is a cash only sale because of cannabis being a Schedule I drug at the federal level. 

Finally, after a little over two hours of mostly frigid waiting, I was with the sales clerk picking out my purchases and the process itself was very quick. With the trio of the shaded and bitter cold of the morning, the lack of marijuana and highly-taxed products (taxed at between 20-25%) in mind, the trip to the dispensary on the first morning of cannabis being legal in Illinois, was boring and painstaking, yet a success nonetheless.