Long lines on first day of legal sale of marijuana

By Jack McCarthy Chronicle Media

North Aurora’s Verilife was already a dispenser of medical marijuana and added sales for recreational use this week. (Photo by Jack McCarthy/Chronicle Media)

The lines quickly formed and lengthened on New Year’s Day at a far west suburban dispensary as recreational marijuana became legal in Illinois.

First-day customers at Verilife, 161 S. Lincolnway, began to gather prior to the scheduled 9 a.m. opening and by 9:30 a.m. a line had extended several hundred yards north on Illinois Route 31.

The dispensary, previously in operation to distribute medical marijuana, also qualified for sales for recreational use effective Jan. 1.

Illinois is now the 11th state to legalize recreational use of marijuana and the first to legalize recreational use through legislative action rather than a ballot initiative and voter approval.

Verilife is among of a handful of suburban dispensaries to open on New Year’s Day, the first day of legal recreational sales.

The newly opened North Aurora dispensary was the closest to the Aurora/Naperville population centers. Naperville has turned down marijuana sales inside its boundaries, while Aurora is considering a potential location on the busy shopping stretch on Illinois Route 59, bordering Naperville.

Although people in line included a variety of ages, the majority of marijuana buyers appeared to be mostly millennial and baby boomer white males.

In the run up to this week’s legalization, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Dec. 31 announced 11,017 pardons for individuals with low-level cannabis convictions. The misdemeanor expungements represented residents from 92 Illinois counties.

The General Assembly voted to legalize recreational marijuana in May and Pritzker signed the legislation in late June.

Verilife is open most days from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Tuesday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday.