Illinois has recently legalized the sale of recreational and medicinal marijuana. Already, there are many different companies being approved to sell cannabis — but this doesn’t mean that they can set up shop in all parts of the state.

Certain areas of Illinois, such as Chicago and Elmwood Park, have legalized and agreed upon recreational dispensaries being set up. Other localities, such as Arlington Heights, have agreed only to have medicinal dispensaries (making recreational ones illegal in this given area). We’ll discuss more on where you can buy weed (and where you can’t below).

There’s still a lot to learn about the upcoming legalization in Illinois. What can you expect to find in stores? How many cannabis companies have already been legally allowed to set up shop? How will this potentially affect life and business in Illinois? Below, you’ll learn everything you need to know about buying weed in Illinois once it becomes legal on January 1, 2020. 

Which parts of Illinois are selling recreational or medicinal marijuana?

First, let’s discuss the parts of Illinois that are selling recreational or medicinal marijuana. At the moment, 32 dispensaries have been legally approved to start selling products on Jan 1. Nine of these dispensaries are located in Chicago, where it is legal to buy recreational cannabis. However, you can legally buy recreational marijuana around Illinois, not just in Chicago city limits. 

There are parts of Illinois that have illegalized recreational sales of marijuana, yet have agreed to medicinal sales. These areas of the state include Arlington Heights and Naperville. View abc7Chicago for a detailed list of every Illinois county and city that will and will not allow the sale of recreational marijuana.

We should also talk about those parts of the state that have yet to locally decide what they will allow to be sold in their locality limits. For example, Homewood and Deefield are currently only able to sell medicinal marijuana, though they still need local and state approval. Mount Prospect is seeking to sell recreational marijuana, though they still need local approval. Check out Chicago Tribune’s interactive map to see every single location’s legal status.

What to expect inside cannabis stores

For those who have been to dispensary stores in other states like Colorado, Nevada, and California, you may know what to expect. However, for those who have never before been in a dispensary, the first time you step inside may be quite surprising.

Marijuana dispensaries (both recreational and medicinal) have gone the route of what Apple stores look like. They have a clean and minimalist design, they have great packaging, and they have workers on the floor able to help you find out what strain would best fit your personality and lifestyle. While not every dispensary looks as minimalist as an Apple store, this tends to be the preferred method of dispensaries at the moment.

In terms of buying products at these dispensaries, you can expect a lot of variety. First of all, there are many different strains to choose from. You can also decide if you want to purchase flower, edibles, or concentrates. For the most part, flower is the most popular product to buy, and they expect flower to make up about 55 percent of all sales at the beginning of the year for Illinois.  

You can also find edibles in the form of candy and gum, while cannabis-infused drinks have also become quite popular in recent years. Every dispensary is different on the products they provide, so some may focus less on edibles, while some may focus more on them.

Expect to see a lot of CBD products available for purchase, too. CBD products have become the next best thing for the cannabis industry, and the public approval of these products doesn’t seem to be dying down anytime soon.

The legality of it all

First of all, to buy marijuana you have to be 21 years old. Before even entering the store, you have to show your ID. 

You can also only buy the legal amount of grams per transaction (30 grams of flower, 5 grams of concentrate, and 500 milligrams of cannabis-infused products). Of course, this doesn’t stop customers from going to other dispensaries and buying above the legal limit that they can own at one time. It’s up to individuals to keep track of how much they have with them at all times.

Expect lines to be long and product to be low the first few weeks of the new year. Often, once recreational cannabis becomes legal, product runs low as everyone is buying the first few weeks. Because of this, individual dispensaries may lower the number of grams that you can buy at once. 

You cannot see or evaluate the marijuana prior to purchase, as the dispensaries keep it behind closed doors. It’s not just out on tables when you walk in. After you buy, you will receive the cannabis in a closed container that may not be opened when you drive. 

If you’re buying marijuana and you come from out of state, you can only purchase 15 grams. It’s illegal to bring cannabis across state lines. 

Paying for marijuana

At the moment, most dispensaries will only accept cash for purchases. This is because cannabis is still illegal on the federal level. Therefore, most national banks will not recognize or work with cannabis businesses.

However, these dispensaries will have ATMs on-site (or should), where you can get cash out if you forget or don’t have cash on you. Some dispensaries will have the option where you can order online, and then pay when you pick up your order instore. 

Dispensaries open in Illinois

As we anticipate January 1st, 2020, here is a list of cannabis dispensaries that will be allowed to sell recreational marijuana in the state of Illinois.


It’s important to remember that not every area of Illinois has decided to locally legalize recreational marijuana. While Chicago has, other areas haven’t.

As the new year begins, you can expect that the dispensaries around the state will be busy. Be prepared for long lines as workers educate other customers, as well as a potential low stock of products for the first few weeks. And, of course, make sure you follow all laws associated with the legalization of marijuana as the new year begins. 

For more marijuana news, check back with MaryJane’s Post daily.

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