Illinois sees first legal sales of recreational marijuana

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A long line of people brave the cold as they wait to be the first in Illinois to purchase recreational marijuana at Sunnyside dispensary Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

CHICAGO (AP) — The sale of marijuana for recreational purposes became legal Wednesday in Illinois were many people began lining up hours early at dispensaries.

About 500 people were outside Dispensary 33 in Chicago.One customer Renzo Mejia, made the first legal purchase shortly after 6 a.m., the earliest that Illinois’ new law allowed sales.

“To be able to have (recreational marijuana) here is just mind-boggling,” Mejia told the Chicago Sun-Times after buying an eighth of an ounce called “Motorbreath.”

The law approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker allows people 21 or older to have up to 30 grams (1.06 ounces) of cannabis flower and up to 5 grams (0.17 ounces) of cannabis concentrate.

Pamela Althoff, executive director of the Springfield-based Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, told The Associated Press that she spent much of Wednesday morning in Chicago and the city’s northwestern suburbs. She said wait times of up to three hours were getting shorter as the day progressed.

Police were on-hand at most shops mostly to control traffic.

Althoff cautioned that recreational marijuana may not be consumed in public and added that like all new products, it may be a little expensive.

Cannabis sales could generate $250 million for Illinois by 2022, according to estimates by state officials.

Neighboring Michigan made recreational marijuana legal starting Dec. 1. Missouri voters made medical marijuana legal in 2018, but the state is still working on licensing businesses. The sale and use of weed for any reason still are illegal in Indiana and Wisconsin.

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(This story was originally published on Jan. 2, 2020)

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