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Illinois hands out first social equity cannabis retail licenses



This article was written by Joana Scopel and was originally published on Benzinga.

Illinois recently issued 185 total adult-use marijuana dispensary licenses to social equity applicants.

“We look forward to getting these businesses up and running, creating jobs in the communities most harmed by the failed drug war, and cementing ownership in Illinois’ cannabis industry as the most diverse in the nation,” said Gov. JB Pritzker.

Now, an ownership group comprised of “wealthy and connected” Chicago entrepreneurs has received one of the first social equity recreational marijuana retail licenses issued by the state’s regulators.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Green Rose Dispensary will open its doors soon in a prominent location in the city’s River North area. The state also issued a permit to a second equity dispensary, Ivy Hall Damen*, in the city’s Wicker Park area, which opened its doors on November 14.

Green Rose qualified for an equity permit by hiring employees who had minor marijuana-related convictions or live in areas with high rates of cannabis arrests or poverty. Its owners include Thomas Wheeler Jr., a former Chicago police detective, and narcotics-unit veteran.

Additionally, the state is offering a total of $8.75 million in forgivable loans to conditionally approved social equity cannabis licensees “in order to provide immediate access to capital” after challenges with a previous loan program.


Will social equity in Illinois live up to the hype?

According to a recent news release from Gov. Pritzker and the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, “pending the completion of a simplified documentation process, forgivable loan amounts between $50,000-$500,000 will be released immediately.”

With retail sales beginning on January 1, 2020, Illinois was the first state to authorize licenses.

However, lawsuits and other delays prevented retailers in the social equity program from opening immediately, with some having to wait nearly three years to obtain a license to operate.

*Editor’s note: Ivy Hall Damen is a minority-owned business with 61% Black ownership.

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Leafly holiday gift guide 2022: Illinois




These curated weed picks will ensure your spirits stay high over the holidays in Illinois.

Eager to give a friend or family member in Illinois a weed gift this holiday season? The winter chill can make an intimate cannabis sesh even sweeter.

Check out these holiday picks fresh from Illinois dispensaries, and let us know if you end up sharing or keeping a few for yourself.

Shop for your friend, sweetheart, or the family member you love to smoke with most during the holidays. Weed always makes an incredible gift. Click the links to shop the strains and products right here on Leafly.

Stay safe and cozy, Illinois.

(93 Boyz/Leafly)

In 2022, we saw the debut of artist Vic Mensa‘s 93 Boyz brand in Illinois. The Black-owned cannabis company with deep ties to the Chicago community offers pre-rolls in three signature strains.

This holiday, we suggest the Pit Stop pre-roll, a 0.75 g joint that makes the perfect stocking stuffer. This hybrid blend pre-roll will help you or someone you love take a moment to relax amidst the busy holiday season without making them want to take a nap.

It’s also great to have in your pocket for a sesh with your friends or cousins.


A sponsored suggestion

The perfect gift for the rambler in your life, Chocolate Chunk is the result of the legendary rock group The Allman Brothers Band teaming up with the matter. crew to deliver a sweet treat this holiday season. 

The potent indica-like strain has Afghani landrace DNA and is primed to become your go-to companion for a relaxing night in with some tasty tunes, courtesy of the Allman Brothers. 

Light up matter.’s premium orange-flecked flower, and you’ll be greeted with a bold chocolate flavor and a slow-building euphoria that, like an excellent concert, crescendos into pure bliss. All you need to do is sit back, light up, and eat a peach.


California-style cannabis makes its way to Illinois in the careful hands of UpNorth Humboldt.

The brand’s small-batch flower operation delivers well-loved strains to consumers, as is the case with their eighth of Durban Poison. The well-priced (for Illinois) 3.5 g jar provides an energetic boost known for relieving stress and anxiety.

Best of all, Durban Poison is dominant in citrusy terpinolene, a terpene you don’t stumble upon easily. The rarity of terpinolene makes the gift of UpNorth Humboldt Durban Poison extra special due to its unique chemistry and uplifting effects.


Weed drinks can be a tasty way to unwind and enjoy holiday flavors, along with the added bonus of waking up hangover free.

We recommend Cann’s Blood Orange Cardamom Hi-Boys for both fun and festivity this holiday season. Grab a 4-pack to share with other cannabis-loving adults, or put a bow on one as a gift to your holiday host.

Each can contains 5 milligrams of THC, taking the evening up a notch with every crack of a tab.


Edible dosage chart

(Good News/Leafly)

What’s more fun than a holiday brunch? The only thing that may be able to compete is the Good News Brunch pen, a 300 mg disposable vape with a citrusy taste that will remind you of orange juice or mimosas.

The discreet vape provides a bright, functional relaxation, making it a smart gift for a friend who usually chooses coffee for their morning buzz or often needs a bump of energy in the afternoon.

The disposable format makes it NBD if it accidentally gets lost.


Baby, it’s cold outside, and not everybody is trying to expose themselves to the elements for too long. That’s why these Kosher Kush Dogwalkers are THE gift for winter in Illinois.

This five-pack of 0.35 g joints provides someone you love with the perfect portion of weed to take a quick walk around the block at the end of the night. They are excellent to give to your friends who are on the go or to share as a nightcap at a party where you aren’t keen on also sharing germs.

Kosher Kush is an ideal evening strain with a delicious earthy flavor thanks to myrcene, its dominant terpene. It also helps with stress, pain, and insomnia.

Janessa Bailey's Bio Image

Janessa Bailey

Janessa Bailey was born and raised in the Midwest and serves as Leafly’s culture editor. She enjoys exploring the many ways that weed can tie into everyday life and rarely turns down an edible.

Janessa is the creator of Lumen and Seeds of Change.

View Janessa Bailey’s articles

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Stock up for the season with holiday highlights at Verilife in Illinois




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Presented ByVerilife

Find top products and the deals you need to brighten your holidays at Verilife.

Verilife dispensaries in Illinois are pulling out all the stops this year to bring shoppers holiday highlights to brighten the season. Find cannabis gifts for everyone on your list, from the whole-flower devotee on the hunt for the hottest new strains to your edible-loving auntie.

Don’t forget to treat yourself to something nice! With one of the largest inventories of quality brands in Illinois, Verilife is the place to find the cannabis that helps you be you this holiday season and beyond. Their team is ready to help you feel better, heal better, and simply live better, by providing you with the expert guidance you need on your cannabis journey.

Keep your eye on your local shop’s menu—Verilife will have deals posted on flower, vapes, edibles, and more throughout the holiday season!

Read on to see some of our top picks at Verilife to add to your wishlist & gift list this season.

matter. x Allman Brothers Band Chocolate Chunk flower

Verilife Holiday

matter. teamed up with the iconic rock group The Allman Brothers Band to bring Illinois Chocolate Chunk, a strain hot enough to keep you ramblin’. This indica-like strain with Afghani landrace DNA is a calming companion, perfect for winding down at the end of the night with the Allman Brothers on the stereo.

When you light up the orange-specked flower, you’ll be greeted by a bold chocolate flavor and a euphoria that will remind you of your first live concert. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and eat a peach.

Magnitude Platinum Jack 1g cartridges

Verilife Holiday

Magnitude prides itself on offering high-quality cartridges, strong enough to make the earth move under your feet. The blend of twice-refined, solvent-free distillate offered by Magnitude is third-party tested to ensure safety and potency, so you can rest easy.

One of the strains we’re excited to see from Magnitude this season is Platinum Jack, aka Jack Herer, the legendary strain named for the godfather of cannabis himself. This sativa-like hybrid descends from the haze family of strains, eliciting a cerebral, energizing high. With an appealing citrus scent with hints of pine, it even smells like the season. 

matter. Cherry Cola gummy bites

Verilife holiday

These sweet treats from matter. are just the pick-me-up you need to de-stress during the holidays. Delicious and convenient, these 10mg THC gummies are made with emulsification technology, meaning you won’t have to wait very long to start feeling the euphoric effects.

You don’t need to take our word for it: matter. Cherry Cola gummies took home Silver at the 2022 Illinois Cannabis Cup: People’s Choice edition. Pick some up from your local Verilife dispensary this holiday season to see what makes these gummies stand out from the pack.

#HASH infused pre-rolls

Verilife Holiday

The perfect pre-roll if you really want to get your halls decked this holiday season, #HASH infused pre-rolls offer a blockbuster combo of premium flower and distillate to create some of the cleanest and most flavorful pre-rolls on the market. #HASH brand pre-rolls are available in a wide variety of top strains, so check out your local Veriflife menu to see if your favorite strain is in stock. A great gift for the true cannasseur in your life, #HASH infused pre-rolls are the definitive premium option this holiday.

matter. Banana Milkshake flower

Verilife Holiday

This indica-like strain from the team at matter. is a real heavy hitter, perfect for an uplifting evening in when the weather outside is frightful. Banana Milkshake features a fruity, tropical aroma that will transport you back to summer days on a sunkissed beach. The buzz Banana Milkshake delivers comes on in waves; starting with a euphoric uplifting effect before settling down into calm contentment. Snag some Banana Milkshake for yourself this holiday season at Verilife, no whipped cream required. 

Click below to find the Verilife dispensary nearest you and stock your stash for a holiday season done right.

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Illinois, MedMen has the goods this Green Wednesday




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Presented ByMedMen

Find high-quality cannabis products to fuel all your holiday celebrations.

MedMen knows that shopping for cannabis is an act of self-care, and everyone deserves to enjoy the experience. Whether you’re green to the scene or a certified cannaseur, MedMen’s friendly and knowledgeable budtenders are always ready to help you discover high-quality cannabis products to fit your unique needs.

Green Wednesday through Black Friday weekend (11/23-11/26), MedMen is offering 30% off sitewide, making it a fantastic time to stock up on top-shelf flower, edibles, and more.

Read on to see some of our favorite brands available at MedMen in Illinois.


Courtesy of MedMen

As you prepare to shop for everyone else this season, treat yourself to some top-shelf green with RYTHM. A national cannabis brand dedicated to helping you hit all the high notes, RYTHM’s suite of cannabis products harness the unique qualities of each strain to deliver superior mind and body effects and a true-to-plant experience every time. Offering a variety of premium flower, vape, and cartridges, RYTHM’s products are expertly cultivated and crafted to fit your individual lifestyle and needs. Not sure what to snag this Green Wednesday? RYTHM’s Afternoon Delight #7 is a MedMen staff favorite. Blissful and balanced—perfect for that pre-holiday R&R.


Courtesy of MedMen

There’s nothing quite like a good edible when you’re home for the holidays. One of MedMen’s most popular edibles brands, Incredibles, offers a tasty lineup of treats ideal for the season’s marathon of gatherings with family and friends. With infused chocolates and mouthwatering gummies in a variety of craveable flavors—chocolate, fruit, or fruity chocolate—Incredibles has something for everyone. If you like to match your snacks to the season (we do), we suggest trying out the Chocolate Milk Mile High Mint Bar this Green Wednesday. Sweet chocolate, a cool rush of mint, and 10mg of THC per square? This MedMen staff pick gets a yes from us, too.


Courtesy of MedMen

Aeriz is making cannabis green(er). Utilizing aeroponic growing—a revolutionary grow process characterized by the use of a recyclable grow medium instead of soil—Aeriz offers closed-loop cannabis of the highest quality. The brand’s novel grow process is not only helping to create a more sustainable future for the cannabis industry, it’s also ensuring greater consistency for the consumer—that means clean, bright, flavorful cannabis every time. Aeriz offers a variety of flower, disposable vapes, cartridges, concentrates, and pre-rolls. Can’t grab one of everything? Try Aeriz’s top-rated Pink Kush indica. 

Chicago locals can visit MedMen’s Oak Park location to shop these hits and more for 30% off, and all Illinois shoppers can visit MedMen’s site to check out top-tier cannabis products this holiday season and beyond.

Courtesy of MedMen

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