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Now that Illinois has joined the ranks of states with recreational cannabis laws, cannabis tour buses have arrived in Chicago. Illinois’ massive success in sales during the first month of sales is indicative of the feverish demand for marijuana products and experiences in the state. As a result, many new cannabis businesses are sprouting up.
Cannabis tour buses give new and experienced users an informative and entertaining experience. Marijuana tour buses are a common phenomenon in major cannabis markets. They give guests a chance to take a behind-the-scenes look into dispensary and cultivation operations to gain a better appreciation of the cannabis plant.
Marijuana Tour Buses And Lounges In Illinois
So far, Illinois has only approved one marijuana lounge, hours away from Chicago, in Springfield. In Chicago, however, city officials haven’t come up with a plan to set-up public spaces for marijuana consumption yet. Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed a plan to allow smoke shops to get licenses for on-site consumption, but the plan was stalled.
Despite the lack of clarity on marijuana lounge regulations, Chicago is seeing a blossoming of marijuana tour bus action. Loopr, a mobile cannabis lounge company with operations in Denver and Los Angeles, gave its first tour on Jan. 25. Loopr’s Chicago tour plans to incorporate more visits to grow houses, dispensaries, food joints, and other attractions in the city.
Currently, however, dispensary lines can be long and unpredictable and a few dispensaries are facing some product shortages. State regulators have also given people very little access to cultivation centers. In spite of these obstacles, Loopr offers customers a short bus ride to a condominium on the Near West Side and a local arcade bar.
Inside the lounge, guests can enjoy plush and comfortable seating, beverages (no alcohol or weed), and cannabis smoking utensils. While no marijuana is provided, guests can bring their own marijuana to consume. Illinois law prohibits smoking in a motor vehicle. While guests are imbibing in marijuana, tour guides teach guests everything from how to use a bong to how to roll a joint, as well as other local facts pertaining to cannabis.
Many of the guests are locals who want to learn more about the plant. The three-hour-tour takes guests through the smoking lounge and the nearby Emporium Arcade Bar in Fulton Market to round off the night. Guests can stay for a few drinks or leave immediately if they’d like back to the starting point. For interested locals and visitors, Loopr’s tour runs you $55 per person.
Chicago is also host to a competing marijuana tour bus company, Pain and Puff Class. Paint and Puff offer guests marijuana tours and painting lessons. Guests can bring their own cannabis. Art supplies are provided in the cost of the class. Their marijuana bus tour takes guests through an immersive downtown architecture tour and they get to visit two cannabis dispensaries.
On The Struggle Bus
Not everyone is so keen on embracing marijuana culture and marijuana buses in Chicago. Kevin Sabet, former White House drug adviser and current president of Smart Approaches Marijuana, told the Chicago Tribune via email, “The bus tours and smoking lounges are all part of the industry’s playbook to normalize a substance they want to make money from. It’s Big Tobacco all over again.”
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Jennifer Taylor, the spokeswoman for Opt Out in Naperville, said, “You’re creating this party culture. Our kids have so many issues and vices facing them. This is another one.” She fears marijuana bus tours will have the same issue that has affected alcohol party buses such as minor violations and violence.
Marijuana tour buses in Chicago are also treading into a grey legal area. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation noted that Loopr’s smoking lounge set-up may not be entirely legal. Currently, smoking lounges can only be approved for dispensaries and tobacco stores.
Smoking Lounges In Chicago
One cannabis retailer in Springfield has been approved to have a marijuana consumption area. Illinois Supply and Provisions has been approved to connect a consumption area to its marijuana shop in downtown Springfield. Plans to open smoking lounges and provide safe spaces for consumption are also being considered in Chicago.
City of Chicago spokesman Patrick Mullane told the Chicago Tribune, “The city continues to work with the local elected officials, community members, and industry experts to develop smart and effective regulations as cannabis expands in Chicago. As apart of this process, we are committed to building more opportunities for new entrepreneurs while educating consumers and ensuring businesses follow the rules.”
Illinois marijuana tourism market is on the rise. Locals can learn more about the plant and their city with marijuana tour buses. Visitors can book a stay in one of about 20 cannabis-friendly bed and breakfast listings in the Chicago area alone. In such a short time, Illinois’ recreational market has seen considerable promise and lawmakers will continue to work toward improving both medical and recreational cannabis programs with public safety in mind.
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