Spirits high despite long lines on first day of legal recreational marijuana

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CHICAGO — Some Chicagoans lined up bright and early on New Year's Day to be the firsts to legally purchase recreational marijuana.

Recreational pot became legal in the state on Jan. 1, making Illinois the 11th state to do so.

The Sunnyside dispensary opened its doors at 6 a.m. and customers were lined up around the corner to make their purchases and make history. Jackie Ryan was the first customer at the dispensary to make a purchase.

Customers must be 21 years or old to purchase marijuana and must bring cash — credit cards will not be accepted.

At 5 a.m., 200 people were already in line at Dispensary 33 in Andersonville.

"But I mean, it is 20 degrees out. People are standing outside for hours talking about it," David Samo said. "Celebrating out in the open. The cops are all around. It’s really nice, it’s showing progress.

Hannah Houde waited in line and finally got her chance to purchase legal recreational marijuana four hours later. She was happy she got there early.

"The staff kept reassuring us in the line that we would be fine," Houde said. "But they said the people at the end of the line may not be able to get anything today, so that would be too bad."

Workers at the Dispensary 33 were prepared for the large crowds, but explained it’s not a quick in-and-out process.

"What you do is you go around and shop with somebody and they go ahead and take your order down," manager Paul Lee said. "You pay and then there’s a fulfillment team that will actually take your order, fulfill it for you, and then give it to you."

At Herbal Care Dispensary on South Western Ave, all flower products are available to medicinal users only, but oils and edibles are available to recreational users.

By the end of the day, Herbal Care served 1,700 customers.

Not everyone is excited about the legalization. Zach Levin of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, which specializes in addiction recovery, believes it sends the wrong message to younger people.

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"Legalizing recreational cannabis use means that it is then safe to consume,” Levin said. "I think we are at a similar place to where we were with nicotine."

Illinois residents can purchase up to 30 grams of flower, 5 grams of concentrate and 500 milligrams of THC-infused products (edibles). Out-of-state visitors will be able to buy half those amounts. Dispensaries will determine residency based on your state-issued ID or driver's license.

For more information about Illinois' new pot laws CLICK HERE.

On Tuesday, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker granted over 11,000 pardons for people who had low-level cannabis convictions.

The expungement of thousands of records applied to all low-level pot possession convictions dating back decades — that means possession of 30 grams or less. However, state’s attorneys throughout Illinois can consider filings to vacate cases involving up to 500 grams of marijuana.

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