Weed-a-licious

Pot company aims for second Springfield store

Operators of a downtown Springfield medical marijuana dispensary are working on opening a second outlet within city limits.

Chris Stone, CEO of HCI Alternatives, confirmed that the company has identified a second Springfield site where the company hopes to sell recreational marijuana when legal sales are allowed beginning Jan. 1. He declined to identify the site.

State law gives existing medical marijuana dispensaries a head start in selling recreational marijuana, with current operators allowed to open stores before new entrants are allowed. Under the law, each existing medical marijuana dispensary can open a second outlet for recreational pot when legal sales begin, but the new location must be within the region where the existing outlet operates. In the case of HCI, the company could open a second store anyplace in Sangamon County. HCI was recently acquired by Ascend Wellness, a Massachusetts-based marijuana company that also has a deal to operate a cultivation center in Barry, a city in Pike County.

Stone said his company hasn’t yet closed a deal to acquire the second Springfield site. He added that the city needs to approve an ordinance setting out rules for dispensaries, including zoning measures stating where recreational marijuana shops can be located. Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder could not be immediately reached.

Stone discounted predictions of a glut of cannabis shops in Springfield, noting that state law caps the number of dispensaries in any given geographic region. In the case of the Springfield area, he said, just three locations in addition to existing medical marijuana dispensaries in Grandview and downtown will be allowed over the next two or three years.

“It’s not going to be wall-to-wall pot shops,” Stone said.

Dan Linn, general manager of Maribus dispensaries, which has a shop in Grandview and another in Chicago, said that his company also plans to open a second location in the Springfield area and has looked at sites. “We are looking at some in Springfield and also looking at some outside the Springfield area,” he said. The company, he said, is looking to the city to establish zoning and other rules for recreational sales.

“We’re not going to sign a lease for a building and then have Springfield say there can be just one recreational store in town,” Linn said.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com

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