sunnyside

Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette Craig Padgett, an employee of Ascher Brothers Paint Company, Chicago, paints the soffit at the Sunnyside* cannabis shop, formerly Phoenix Botanical, in Champaign on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019.Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette Craig Padgett, an employee of Ascher Brothers Paint Company, Chicago, paints the soffit at the Sunnyside* cannabis shop, formerly Phoenix Botanical, in Champaign on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019.

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CHAMPAIGN — After the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, you’ll have just six more hours to wait for a historic moment in Illinois:

Legal recreational marijuana sales will begin at several dispensaries around the state at 6 a.m. New Year’s Day, including NuMed Urbana and Sunnyside in Champaign.

Both local dispensaries are preparing for a crowd and lines at the door.

“I’ve been told that people plan on camping out,” said Brendan Jolly, an employee at NuMed, 105 E. University Ave., U.

If you’re a later riser, Sunnyside, the new name for Phoenix Botanical at 1704 S. Neil St., C, will remain open until 10 p.m. on New Year’s Day. NuMed Urbana will stay open until 6 p.m.

Purchases at both dispensaries will be on a cash-only basis, their owners said. And medical marijuana customers will have first priority for the available supply.

NuMed Principal Officer Keith McGinnis said NuMed will be imposing some limits on purchases to start, in anticipation of shortages.

“We’re not afraid to say we’re going to have a shortage,” he said.

Sunnyside said it plans to monitor sales and quantities in each of its stores and make whatever decisions are necessary to accommodate customers during the launch.

While growers have been gearing up to supply the beginning of recreational sales, medical marijuana sales have also been steadily growing over the year, McGinnis said.

Total retail medical marijuana sales in the state this year through the end of November were $223.8 million, compared to $122.6 million for about the same period last year, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Both Champaign-Urbana dispensaries will be ushering in the start of recreational sales Jan. 1 with festivities.

NuMed plans to hold a ribbon cutting at 9 a.m., a few hours after sales begin, McGinnis said.

Sunnyside plans to make a full historic day of it with local elected officials and representatives from its owner, Cresco Labs, on hand at the Champaign dispensary. Cresco Labs has also invited the media to the Champaign dispensary to come watch day one unfold.

Two parking lots on either side of the building housing Sunnyside — along with one large lot across the street — have been reserved for the day in anticipation of long lines, the company said.

Sunnyside is also preparing to help inexperienced buyers with their selections by making on-site wellness advisors available, according to Emma Ross with the media firm Havas Formula.

“This is the first time we’re going to be seeing a lot of people,” she said.

Sunnyside doesn’t plan to separate the existing Champaign dispensary into separate areas for recreational and medical marijuana purchases, Ross said.

At NuMed, medical cannabis patients will be permitted to go to the head of the line after they show their credentials, and they’ll check out on one side of the counter while recreational purchasers will check out on the other side, McGinnis said.

NuMed is projecting shortages largely in marijuana flower (to smoke), he said.

“Everything else, we should have plenty,” McGinnis said.

Two more things to know when recreational pot sales begin in Illinois:

— Regardless of any limits imposed by dispensaries on early buyers, under Illinois law in-state purchasers can legally possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, 500 milligrams of THC in products and 5 grams of concentrates. Out of state purchasers can possess up to half that much, and they can’t transport it over state lines.

— You must show a legal ID at the dispensary door to verify that you’re 21 or older.

News-Gazette