Store marks city’s first recreational dispensary
By Julie Gerke
Note: Kush21 did not pass inspection Friday, Jan. 27 and must adjust five areas before a repeat visit (date not set). The article has been edited to reflect this news. Soft opening date delayed until after approval.
Jacksonville is going green.
Kush21 Premium Cannabis is preparing to open at 1112 Veterans Dr., Jacksonville. Once the store has passed state licensing requirements, it will be the city’s first recreational dispensary since recreational marijuana sales were legalized in January 2020.
Co-owned by Michale Beraki of Washington state and an equity partner, the local store will be the eighth in the company and the first outside Washington. Daily hours will be 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; an opening date has not been set.
Beraki must address five items, such as signage display, before the next inspection, he said.
Once the store opens, visitors must be 21 or older to enter and valid ID will be required. Sales are cash only; the store will have an ATM on site. Customers can order online, but must pick up and pay for them at the store.
Prices will vary depending on the amount and type purchased. Kush21 will have flowers (dried buds) to smoke, but also will offer pre-rolled cigarettes, vaporizers, concentrates (waxes), edibles and tinctures. “Budtenders,” or salespeople, will explain what’s available and guide customers to what’s right for their need and lifestyle.
On a late Thursday in January, the sales room was lined with big-screen monitors that outline what will available, provide some definitions and even offer the opportunity for outside businesses to place ads. Lines of glass cabinets created lanes to route customers toward sales counters; state and shop rules were prominently displayed on several walls.
Video camera feeds will be monitored by the state in real time as well as by on-site security.
Beraki anticipates serving up to 500 customers a day, with an eventual salesforce of 30 full-time and 10 part-time employees. He has just under 20 people hired so far.
Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard said the city is looking forward to new money generated by the store’s sales tax proceeds, and said an indication of numbers might be available after the first three months of operation.
In the meantime, “Kush21 has been a good partner, easy to deal with,” he said. “They’ve checked the boxes” on working with the city.
Kush21 buys from processors, choosing from more than 3,000 strains of cannabis available. Beraki said the cannabis is lab tested and “I can tell you everything” about a particular product, unlike street weed whose strength and quality may be anecdotal at best.
Although some customers simply want to get high, Beraki said others may find that cannabis helps with various aches and pains or sleep problems. He offered examples of a Washington retiree who switched to a type of cannabis for pain relief, and to his sister, who found relief from cancer treatment side effects.
Illinois approved medical marijuana dispensaries in 2013; recreational dispensaries have been open only since January 2020. State records show adult use cannabis sales brought $445 million in taxes to Illinois in fiscal year 2022, with overall sales of $1.5 billion.
Beraki wanted to expand into a state with marijuana laws similar to Washington, and hoped to open a store in Chicago. When Kush21 received the west-central Illinois license through a state lottery, Beraki and a business partner realized Jacksonville would be a good site since other recreational dispensaries are a minimum of 45 minutes away.
The City Council approved rezoning for the site by an 8-1 vote. Police Chief Adam Mefford said his department would respond to any immediate need, but oversight and regulations fall to the state of Illinois.
If you go:
Kush21 Premium Cannabis
1112 Veterans Drive, Jacksonville
Rules: 21 and older; valid ID required
Cash only purchases; ATM on site
On the Web: Kush21.com