Miracle In Mundelein Kicks Starts Legal Cannabis Concerts In Illinois


LAGOS SEPTEMBER 10TH (NEWSRANGERS)-The smell of illicit marijuana typically floats through crowds at rock and rap concerts, but this weekend will mark a new experience in Illinois: a cannabis concert where smoking weed is legal.

The Miracle in Mundelein, an outdoor music festival Saturday and Sunday headlining stoner rappers Cypress Hill, will not only allow but encourage cannabis consumption. While a few other events have offered buses where people can consume, this concert will let people imbibe openly while watching from within a fenced lot at 1325 Armour Boulevard in Mundelein.

Cannabis won’t be sold on the grounds, but may be purchased at the Rise dispensary across the street, or patrons may bring their own in sealed containers. Plans call for a cannabis beverage garden, joint rolling stations and dab bars to burn concentrates. Small pipes and vape pens are allowed.

The 21-and-over event represents the peak so far of an increasing pot presence at public events despite a state law prohibition on consumption in public. In most cases, organizers provide a place where people can consume while somehow separated from the public.

State regulators largely wash their hands of the issue. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation only oversees cannabis dispensaries, not outside events. That leaves the issue largely unregulated, with decisions being made by to local officials.

In Mundelein, Village Administrator Eric Guenther said the key was a 6-foot-high opaque fence that keeps the proceedings hidden from public view.

The reason the Village Board gave its blessing to such an event, even approving a special liquor license, Guenther said, was that the event’s sponsor, Green Thumb Industries, or GTI, has been a responsible business since it began selling medical marijuana in 2015, and recreational sales in 2020.

The dispensary has not had problems with customers driving while high, or with kids under 21 getting its products, said Guenther, who previously was the village’s police chief. The business also worked to accommodate village officials concerns about operations and to establish a surveillance video feed to the police.

After concerns that plans for 7,000 people a day would be too much, organizers agreed to limit the event to 5,000 tickets a day, Guenther said.

The biggest problems, Guenther said, have been the lack of parking in the light industrial area around the store, and customers opening their purchases before they get home, which is illegal.

GTI will pay for plenty of extra security and police to ensure safety at the concert, said Armon Vakili, vice president of mergers, acquisitions and partnerships.

“This is a great place for the community to come out and enjoy itself,” Vakili said. “We’re trying to bring good weed and good music together, and break down stigmas.”

GTI also will offer shuttle buses for hire to and from the event from Chicago, Milwaukee and Schaumburg. The Rise dispensary also features the state’s first cannabis consumption lounge at a licensed store.

Saturday features a lineup of hip hop, reggae and electronic dance music, while Sunday will carry more of a jam band vibe, led by Joe Russo’s Almost Dead.

Increasingly, concerts in Illinois have featured cannabis vendors offering information and swag such as rolling papers, but have not been permitted to sell licensed weed. Some have featured hemp products, which by law are limited to less than .3% delta-9-THC, the component that gets users high, but may contain similar derivatives such as delta-8.

The recent three-day Cultivate Chicago festival, featuring rappers GZA and Vic Mensa, promoted cannabis prominently, but didn’t allow legal consumption. Curaleaf has a deal to promote cannabis at the Salt Shed venue in Chicago, but sales and consumption are not allowed.

Cannabis critics oppose such broadening and normalizing of consumption at public events. Parents Opposed to Pot Illinois have publicized opposition to such events, saying they hope they don’t do well, and calling them part of an “addiction for profit” business.

But pot advocates hope to hold more such events. Plans are underway to hold a concert for 8,000 people with cannabis consumption at Aurora’s RiverEdge Park, Illinois NORML Executive Director Margo Vesely said. They are in talks with Mayor Richard Irvin, a former Republican candidate for governor, and shooting for a show by 2025.

The crucial hurdle, Vesely said, is getting local approval. “It has to get clearance from the municipality,” she said. “We want to bring in big-name artists and vendors. We’re creating a fundraiser to give back to the community.”

Joseph Lucchese, executive vice president at Groundswell Experiential, which focuses on marketing for fests and large events, including the recent North Coast Music Festival in Chicago, and upcoming events at Navy Pier, said such experiences are an emerging trend.

“It’s going to be a positive trend, because it’s curated for the culture,” he said. “I think it’ll be great for the community in terms of exposure and awareness.”

Ultimately, advocates hope to pass a version of the Local Cannabis Licensing Act, which would clear up the legal gray area to explicitly allow counties and municipalities to issue special licenses to sell and consume cannabis at public events, including concerts and tours.


Chicago Tribune

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Posted by on Sep 10 2023. Filed under Entertainment, International, National. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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