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A budding business: Milan's first recreational weed dispensary is nearing completion

A budding business: Milan's first recreational weed dispensary is nearing completion

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MILAN – Nature’s Treatment of Illinois expects to have its license to offer recreational marijuana sales come Jan. 1.

Shannon Ballegeer, manager of the current medical marijuana dispensary in Milan, said construction should wrap up in the next two weeks or so. A state walk-through would follow, a last step needed before any license is awarded.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has already distributed 23 adult-use same-site recreational dispensary licenses, which have come in three batches. Operators of existing medical marijuana dispensaries, like NTI, have exclusive access to the first round of licenses.

The dispensary will open at 6 a.m. Jan. 1 — the state prohibits a midnight opening. There will be heated tents for those waiting outside, with at least one food truck, outside seating and portable bathrooms. A grassy area between NTI and a Village of Milan sign may also be used for those awaiting the green rush, and there may be a shuttle to a larger parking lot somewhere in the community, such as a larger department store or grocery store.

“We know it’s going to be cold and a long wait so we’re going to do what we can to help people while they wait,” Ballegeer said.

Ballegeer has hired eight additional employees in anticipation of the opening. They'll be trained after construction is done.

The medical and recreational facilities will look similar, though the medical dispensary is beige and the recreational one will be silver. Both sides will maintain separate entrances and exits and with parking on both sides of the building at 973 Tech Drive, Milan.

Inside, things will be different — the recreational site is sort of like a deli counter. There is no bulletproof glass, like on the medical side.

Consumers will take a number as they enter, because their age and state of residence must be verified. The legal age is 21-plus, and while Illinois residents can legally possess up to 30 grams of marijuana flower, non-Illinois residents can only possess up to 15 grams of marijuana flower.

The waiting area is bigger and there will be “as many chairs as we can fit in here,” Ballegeer said.

A case and display boards will list what's available for sale. Customers will not see the product until after they purchase.

NTI officials plan to meet with Village of Milan officials and police to discuss logistical concerns, such as vehicle traffic. Among the items to discuss are traffic patterns and likely congestion.

Tech Drive features commercial truck traffic and does not currently have parking restrictions, which will likely be part of the overall discussion, said Steve Seiver, Milan Village administrator.

Seiver said the village allowed NTI to begin to add recreational marijuana sales earlier this summer, and has enacted a local 3% sales tax on marijuana sales.

Milan hasn’t set a budget estimate for the new revenue stream, but are hopeful ballpark figures from NTI will be available by February or March. The Village’s fiscal year is May 1 to April 30 so early sales figures should allow local officials a good estimate before budget season begins.

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