Welcome To The Future: Romeoville Residents Ready For Cannabis – Romeoville, IL Patch

ROMEOVILLE, IL — There were hundreds of people. The line stretched around the block. Some of them had been waiting for hours, waiting to buy legal cannabis products from the Romeoville Verilife dispensary at 1335 Lakeside Drive. After years of legal battles and months of anticipation, the day had finally come that people could enjoy their weed openly and without fear of repercussion: Jan. 1, 2020, 9 a.m.

From somewhere in the long line, one call rang out that seemed to capture everyone’s mood:

„Welcome to the future!”

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By 9 a.m., the line contained hundreds of people stretching for blocks – and it was still growing. (Dave Byrnes / Patch)

Verilife Midwest District Manager Clay Wynn said the dispensary team had been preparing for this day for a long time. Verilife, a nationwide chain of medical — and now recreational — dispensaries operated by parent company PharmaCann, has several locations scattered throughout Illinois, and Wynn is charge of all of them.

„I oversee Illinois and Ohio,” he said. „Right now we’ve got four [dispensaries] in Illinois and one in Ohio.”

He said the Romeoville location would have no problem accommodating the hundreds of people lined up to buy product, but that it may take several hours to serve everyone. To keep things orderly, both Romeoville police and private security firms were on the scene and directing traffic.

„It’s a brand new industry, I personally didn’t know what to expect,” he said. „but I knew it would be a popular spot today. … We’re going to bring people over in sets of probably about five to 10, we’re expecting a pretty quick turnaround.”

Additionally, due to concerns over shortages, Wynn said all customers would be limited to only purchasing up to 3.5 grams of cannabis flower. This was done, in part, to ensure medical users could have all the products they needed to treat their conditions. For other products, such as edibles and concentrates, there were no limits on sales except the legal ones.

„We’ve probably got product for at least a couple weeks,” he said.

These restrictions were fine with most people Patch spoke with in the long line, and many said they weren’t even all that excited for smokable bud. Instead, it seemed the most sought-after products were vape cartridges and extracts.

„I’m looking to buy cartridges,” said Elliot Cruz, who was waiting at the back of the line. „Something discreet, something nobody can say too much about. … Flowers, not so much, because I’m trying to keep it discreet.”

Cruz and some of his friends said they were surprised to see such a large crowd so early in the morning — they had arrived around 8:45 a.m. and were almost two city blocks back from the dispensary. Despite the crowd, he and his friends said they were fine with waiting.

„I’ll stay,” he said. „I’m already here, it’s a day off, I’ve been planning this for a long time. … I mean, I didn’t even celebrate [New Year’s Eve] that much because I went to sleep early so I could wake up for this.”

At the front of the line was someone who already had been waiting several hours. A young man named Dylan Schloemer said he arrived at the dispensary at 4 a.m.

„I knew there would be a line eventually,” he said, adding that the long wait was definitely worth it. „Oh yeah. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.”

For his patience, Schloemer was the first person to actually enter the dispensary around 9:30 a.m., after Verilife staff delayed opening due to technical issues with their point-of-sale software. Like others in the line, Schloemer said he was most excited to buy vape cartridges.

„That’s all what I want, pretty much,” he said.

Schloemer, along with other people Patch spoke to in the line, almost universally said they were longtime marijuana consumers already; former clients of the weed black market. Most said they planned to make the switch to the legal market for future purchases. They said the higher costs associated with legal marijuana products — including Romeoville’s 3 percent cannabis sales tax — were outweighed by the variety and quality of items that legal dispensaries could offer.

„The dealers don’t have variety,” Gerardo Aguado said. „They’ve got 'good’ and 'not-good.’ It’s the same shit all the time.”

Another man in line, who asked to only be called 'Matt,’ said he was more interested in the increased safety of legal purchases.

„Yeah you pay a little bit less on the black market now,” she said. „But just buying it legally makes me feel better as a man with a mortgage, a wife and a kid. … You know where it’s coming from and what’s in it, and that’s really important.”

„[I’ve been using weed] for 45 years,” a woman in line named Wendy Miller said. „Now I totally will come here.”

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This was where the line was at its thinnest. People were still arriving after 9 a.m. (Dave Byrnes / Patch)

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