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One year later: Illinois businesses find opportunity from legalization of recreational marijuana

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 11:35 PM CST
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QUAD CITIES, Ill. (KWQC) - Recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois just over a year ago, and the change has opened new opportunities for businesses in the state.

Since Jan. 1, 2020, when Nature’s Treatment of Illinois opened its doors, demand and popularity for the business have only increased.

“From the minute we open to the minute we close, there’s always a customer or patient here,” Patrick Adamson, an agent in charge at Nature’s Treatment of Illinois, said, “Every day we have customers who come in with stories like ‘I never thought I’d be here, I can’t believe this day has come,’ or ‘last time I’ve ever seen any of this stuff was 1962.’”

The business continues to see both frequent and new customers at their doors in Milan and Galesburg. Adamson said their goal is to make all types of customers feel comfortable.

“We kind of want to be shepherds into that experience for first-time users or for users who are finding out how the new system works. And to be able to do that in a safe a welcoming environment,” he said.

Adamson believes the growth of the business and popularity in recreational marijuana is partly because of a culture shift in American society.

“We’re seeing from lawmakers and we’re seeing from healthcare professionals that there can be acceptance and inclusion of cannabis and cannabis users into our mainstream culture,” he said.

To the north, in tourist destination town Galena, that culture shift is growing. The town’s first cannabis store is set to open at the end of February. But Galena is also home to the Aldrich Guest House, which became the state’s first cannabis-friendly inn last year.

“We wanted someplace that was going to be a responsible and legal place for guests to consume, without potentially bothering others,” Robert Mahan, who owns the bed and breakfast with his husband, said.

With the legalization of recreational marijuana came the appropriately named Potting Shed. It’s a building on the Inn’s property decided for guests to relax in while they consume cannabis outside.

“We got a lot of new guests because of the potting shed, but it’s also kind of deepened the relationship with previous guests who it’s kind of an extra amenity that they really love and think is really cool,” Douglas Mahan said.

According to the couple, the space has been well received and helped their business, especially in 2020 when fewer people were traveling. But they also believe it has helped break down a stigma and makes guests who do consume cannabis feel more comfortable.

“A lot of people that come out here are people in their 50s, 60s, 70s that have been using it medically and now can use it and not feel like they have to hide,” Douglas said.

“We didn’t want people to feel uncomfortable while they’re here because if you’re having to sneak, you’re not relaxing. You’re not having a good time. You’re not on vacation,” Robert said.

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