Insider’s Guide to Chicago’s Hottest Cannabis Products
The adult cannabis market in Illinois has been booming since it opened in early 2020, selling over $ 1 billion worth of products in its first year. That growth is expected to continue this year, with more stores going online every month.
What is driving this expansion? Consumers cannot find legal, reliable and tested products anywhere else.
Chicago cannabis users are all about these types of flowers. Gelato, Rainbow Chip and Pineapple Express are hot right now.
In Chicago, the city’s cannabis culture – a heavily flower-based scene – drives product selection in stores. But also the coronavirus pandemic.
“Before the pandemic, illnesses like stress, anxiety and depression brought people to the pharmacy, and the pandemic made those problems worse, so people seek more relief,” said Margie Levy, patient care specialist at Rise Mundelein, owned by Green Thumb Industries .
The pandemic has also pushed people to explore new ways to improve their self-care routines with products designed to help with sleep, anxiety, or intimacy.
Consumers in Illinois have a wide range of needs and experiences with cannabis, but Budtenders in town report that many are somewhat new to the plant and are looking for guidance and help with product selection. For these buyers, factors such as discretion and convenience are a priority. Cannabis concentrates like wax, rosin, and ice water hash aren’t as popular here as they are in more mature markets like Los Angeles. In this early legal era, Chicago consumers are happy to roll up old school flowers and explore the new world of high-end food.
Chicago’s Dispensary 33 is home to some of the city’s most popular strains. (Courtesy Dispensary 33)
Flower: Chicago’s favorite varieties
Legal Flower, the bedrock of the cannabis world, is what Chicagoans really wanted in their first year of law in Illinois. According to Quinn Stifler, a pharmacy agent at Dispensary 33, older customers flock to “strains they recognized or smoked when they were younger – classic genetics like Jack Herer, Northern Lights and Sour Diesel.”
Younger customers usually try newer varieties of cannabis and prefer dessert varieties and cookie crosses, especially MAC, Rainbow Chip, Wedding Cake, and Gelato.
Pineapple Express: One of the hottest strains in Chicago. (Leafly photo)
Pineapple Express is a strain that sells out quickly in many city pharmacies. It’s not just nostalgia, but customers’ need for balanced hybrids that they often ask for in order to avoid the paranoia of some strong sativas.
Edibles: Tasty and strong
Mindy’s rubbers are the bomb. (Courtesy Mindy’s)
Local chef competes with national brands
Food is currently the number one choice for many consumers and competition for shelf space is fierce. In Chicago, well-known national brands like Wana and Kiva Confections are challenged by local newbies like Mindy’s Artisanal Edibles, a collaboration between Cresco Labs and award-winning chef Mindy Segal.
Chicago chef Mindy Segal, founder of HotChocolate, now makes the tastiest cannabis foods in town. (Courtesy Mindy’s Artisanal Edibles)
Segal is well known in Chicagoland and made a name for herself with her popular restaurant HotChocolate (which later became Mindy’s Bakery). In 2016, she partnered with Cresco, the national cannabis company that operates 24 Sunnyside cannabis dispensaries in six states and was born and raised in Chicago. The result: Mindy’s Edibles, a product line that includes six fruit gum flavors and three typical Segal pralines.
The brand awareness makes these products stand out from the others, “because people value fine art, packaging and a reliable experience,” says Stifler from Dispensary 33. “These brands are known for that.”
With its trendy product design, Beboe is a top competitor in every market it enters. (Courtesy of Beboe)
A recent development in the grocery sector is the entry of the chic LA brand Beboe into the Illinois market. Beboe is launched with two 5 mg lozenge blends (Inspired and Downtime), each calibrated to improve your mood (uplifting or relaxing). With consumers interested in new brands, it’s no wonder that Beboe’s ornate packaging catches their attention and fits into their lifestyle, just as Beboe co-founder Clement Kwan intended when he switched from fashion to cannabis .
CBD and CBN forward foods
The desire to enhance certain moments like sleep or exercise drives Chicago consumers to look for cannabinoids like CBD and CBN. Nick Mandera, Agent in Charge at Herbal Care Center, says, “We saw products with these cannabinoids like Incredibles Snoozzzeberry Gums or high-CBD buds, which are becoming increasingly popular because people want to relax, fall asleep faster, and sleep further. There isn’t enough CBD to get around because everyone leads a stressful lifestyle these days. “
The Incredibles line of infused foods includes CBD and CBN focused options. (Courtesy Incredibles)
The Incredibles line of infused foods includes CBD and CBN Forward products such as Incredibles Strawberry Gums with a ratio of CBD and THC of 1: 1 (100 mg CBD and 100 mg THC per pack) and Incredibles Snoozzzeberry gums which Combine THC with CBN in a ratio of 5: 1 (100 mg THC and 20 mg CBN per pack).
Pre-Rolls: Enjoy a perfect connection every time
Pre-roll packs, which usually contain three to five professionally rolled grout, don’t stay on shelves for more than a day or so because their convenience makes them quick to ignite and provides a safe way to divide weeds during the pandemic .
Pre-roll options from Dogwalkers: the standard Big Dog or a five-pack of Minis. (Courtesy Big Dog)
The GTI Dogwalker and Verano Swift Lift Mini Joint Packages contain five pre-rolled joints weighing half a gram. These pre-rollers are shorter than the standard joint and are quickly becoming a customer favorite due to their practical size. They’re great for those with tighter tolerances or anyone looking for a little buoyancy without the full power of a full-size joint.
If you’re looking for more than a Mini, Dogwalkers also offers full-size individual Big Dog pre-rolls that cost around $ 28 with taxes. Individual pre-rolls in Chicago typically cost more than $ 20 plus tax, which is high compared to other rule of law states. However, in an emerging market like Illinois, it is the cost of convenience.
Chicago is getting intimate
Cannabis has many uses, and Chicagoers are exploring them all, including how it can improve their intimacy. Quinn notes that many customers visit D33 in search of products that help with intimacy, either to get out of their minds, to relax their bodies, or both.
The 1906 Drop lineup includes formulas for relaxation, energy, arousal, and more. (Courtesy 1906 New Highs)
While there isn’t yet a buffet of options, the 1906 Love Drops are hugely popular. These capsules contain 2.5 mg of THC, 2.5 mg of CBD, and five herbal aphrodisiacs to help promote arousal. The packaging is pink and flashy and is reminiscent of candy hearts for Valentine’s Day.
Cloud Nine Lotion is infused with 200 mg THC and 200 mg CBD. (Courtesy Nature’s Grace and Wellness)
If you’re looking to relax, Nature’s Grace and Wellness’s Cloud Nine Lotion has been lauded by the Chicagoans for its relaxing effects and massage-friendly texture.
More about cannabis in Illinois
Datrianna Meeks, a Chicago based product designer and cannabis writer, writes the Ask a Budtender column for Chicago Magazine and creates educational content for Up in Smoke on Instagram, @upinsmokesession. She is passionate about the diversity in cannabis and technology, and is helping develop the next generation of leaders in both areas.
Show article by Datrianna Meeks
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