COLLINSVILLE, IL-Illinois state officials have granted the first license for a metro east dispensary to sell recreational marijuana come the beginning of the new year.
And that dispensary is in Collinsville.
HCI Alternatives in Collinsville was the first medical marijuana dispensary to open in the metro east back in January of 2016.
Now it`s the first metro east dispensary to get a license to sell recreational marijuana when that becomes legal in Illinois on January 1st of next year.
Renovations are already underway at the facility just off I-55/70.
HCI contacts were not available to speak on camera but they did issue a statement reading, 'We are excited to be among the first to receive state approval to dispense cannabis products for adult use in Illinois. While medical cannabis will continue to be a top priority for us at our original locations in Collinsville and Springfield, we look forward to welcoming customers with a different focus to our dispensaries in the new year.'
Tina Allen and Debra Washington work right next door to HCI. They both have concerns about recreational marijuana.
'My concern is it getting into the hands of smaller kids. Just because we`re grown, yeah we can do what we want to do, but we still got to think about the ones coming up behind us,' said Tina.
Debra added, 'What I`m saying is they shouldn`t sell it...(It) could get into the wrong hands about the kids.'
At Friday`s South Bar and Grill on Main Street in Collinsville, people have mixed feelings about recreational marijuana.
'I support it. I think it`s a good thing. I think there`s money to be made for the state of Illinois,' said Rob Wagner.
Rob added, 'It`s just something that grows in the ground. I think everyone should be able to smoke if they want to.'
'You just don`t know. It`s the unknown. And that really kind of throws you into the unknown category. What could happen, what may happen,' explained Ron Shambaugh.
Initially, recreational marijuana will only be sold at Illinois facilities already selling medical marijuana.
If they meet requirements, those dispensaries are allowed to open a second site for recreational sales as well.
Then by May first of next year, licenses will be awarded for sites that are solely selling recreationally.
HCI in Collinsville was one of seven medical dispensaries that got licenses to sell recreationally in the latest round of state approvals.
Collinsville`s City Manager Mitch Bair says the city supports HCI getting a recreational license.
In fact, city leaders approved zoning last night which could allow four recreational marijuana sales facilities in Collinsville including HCI`s.
However, the sites can`t go in residential areas and must meet other requirements as well.
There are now 29 recreational sales sites licenses approved in already existing medical marijuana dispensaries in Illinois.