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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Excelleaf grand opening promotes ‘high’ hopes for DeKalb

Rachel Cormier
A line of people wait outside the doors of Excelleaf before its grand opening. (Rachel Cormier | Northern Star)

DeKALB – A soft drizzle and a cold winter morning didn’t stop a line of people trailing around Excelleaf’s building at 305 E. Locust St., anticipating their first purchase from DeKalb County’s first marijuana dispensary.

At 9 a.m. Friday, Excelleaf opened its doors to the general public for its grand opening. After a week of soft openings for close friends and family, Excelleaf’s first official day of business had been highly anticipated by the public since it announced a possible opening by Corn Fest in August.

Maria Davis, chief executive officer of Excelleaf said she had been waiting for this day since the dispensary was first approved.

“We thought we were going to be ready for the Corn Fest,” Davis said. “We started construction, I wanna say June or July, anticipated that the contractors would meet their deadline, but they didn’t. And of course, we had glitches, you know, several glitches.”

Shannon Rakosnik, 36, a resident of DeKalb, was excited to see the marijuana selection compared to her usual drive outside of the county.

“I really like it for the convenience because before we had to go to, like, Saint Charles or the Algonquin area, so it was a drive,” Rakosnik said.

Other DeKalb residents like Jim Hovis, 71, were venturing into a dispensary for the first time for medical reasons.

“I’m going into surgery tomorrow for an aneurysm with blood clots,” Hovis said. “So they told me there’s a lot of pain for a week. I’d rather get away from the narcotics and go to these people who have medical backgrounds, you know, 20 years each in the medical profession.”

While Excelleaf is not a medicinal dispensary, owners and staff like Davis, who has a medical background of 25 years, can recommend products from a recreational and health perspective.

Inside the dispensary, customers aged 21 and older can peruse Excelleaf’s recreational menu which includes a selection of unique flowers, pre-rolled joints, topicals and various forms of edibles, according to its website.

Once at the counter, a budtender can help customers place or pick up orders that were previously placed on the dispensary’s website.

A line of people wait outside the doors of Excelleaf before its grand opening. (Rachel Cormier | Northern Star)

For customers who aren’t sure about their selection, budtender Robbie Sanders is a staffer that would help them through a “custom curated little transaction.”

“When you get to the drawer, they’ll ask you if you have, like, an online order, and if you’re not, if you have a chance to look at our menu,” Sanders said. “But from there, we’ll just kind of ask you what you’re looking for, like your favorite type of consumption method, whether it’s like inhalation, like flower, pre-rolls or consumables and stuff like that.”

DeKalb resident Erica Grimes, 32, thought she would be purchasing flower, but said the budtenders convinced her to buy gummies instead. Grimes had never been inside a dispensary before and said she didn’t expect the layout to be so professional.

“I thought I’d be seeing stands of plants and, like, different kinds, but it was actually all, like, nicely hidden and secured behind a wall where just the people at the register could, you know, get through, like a latch in the door or something,” Grimes said.

Those in line weren’t discouraged by the rain, as staff passed out free Insomnia cookies and Excelleaf hats for those waiting. Even if customers weren’t allowed to enjoy their selection once they got outside, poppable treats like cinnamon rolls and donut holes and coffee fulfilled any “munchies” customers were feeling in the morning.

Among several DeKalb residents, Fifth Ward Alderman Scott McAdams was among the satisfied customers who walked out with a new ashtray, a joint roller and a goodie bag of 3.5 grams of flower given to the first 100 customers.

Fifth Ward Alderman Scott McAdams holds a 3.5 gram jar of marijuana. (Rachel Cormier | Northern Star)

McAdams was a part of the unanimous City Council decision to approve the dispensary and said the safety behind the legalized drug was behind that decision.

“People can have a safe place to buy it,” McAdams said. “They don’t have to go on the streets, they don’t have to deal with, you know, all the prices that’s out there and all that. So we just think this is just a better idea.”

McAdams said he felt secure with Excelleaf’s security system when considering the risk of weed products being distributed to minors, especially in a college town.

“So, we are concerned about the under 21 getting access to it, but every product that’s sold inside is tracked,” McAdams said. “So if the police catch kids in a dorm room with dispensary weed, they’ll be able to figure out who bought it and who sold it to them.”

A ribbon cutting was expected at noon along with a Jamaican food truck to celebrate the grand opening.

Excelleaf’s hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Discounts are offered to several groups of people including 20% off for medical cardholders, 20% for veterans and 10% for NIU students and faculty.

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