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Concern for youth as cannabis dispensary opens in South Beloit

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BELOIT (WKOW) -- A large legal cannabis dispensary opens in South Beloit Monday, but some on the Wisconsin side of the state border are worried about the impact it could have on young people.

The Sunnyside Dispensary is one of the largest in Illinois, less than a half mile from the Wisconsin border.

It's opening brings the topic of normalization of cannabis back into the discussion.

"Kids perception of risk really goes down because they see this as something that's out there so it can't really be hurting you," Debbie Fischer with Youth 2 Youth 4 Change in Rock County said.

Fischer says they've been preparing for this opening for a year, educating the community and pushing for youth prevention.

But Mary Cluxton with Cresco Labs, the company that runs the dispensary, says they want to normalize responsible adult usage.

"Coming from the medical side I really thought coming to the AU side was more of a party atmosphere and it really is not," Cluxton said. "It's really more about health and wellness and feeling good."

Ever since Illinois legalized marijuana on January 1, Fischer says teens have shared with her that while usage hasn't been on the rise, it is more accessible.

"More edibles are in their hands, especially in the schools," she said. "What's really exciting in Beloit is that a majority of our kids choose not to use marijuana."

She expects more products will now make their way into Wisconsin and Beloit.

While Cluxton says they expect their patrons to be responsible, she also hopes that their presence can influence legalization in Wisconsin.

"We want to try and normalize and professionalize cannabis as much as we can and take away some of the stigma behind cannabis," she said. "I hope it will possibly influence Wisconsin to at least start like Illinois did with the medical."

Beloit police declined to comment on this Sunday but Chief David Zibolski has told 27 News in the past that he believes legal marijuana over the border leads to more crime.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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