Windy City Smoke Up provided a safe space to get high and sell unregulated weed: “It’s one step closer to what I wish we could do everywhere”

Under a thick cloud of smoke, a constant rotation of blunts and joints circulated on Sunday afternoon on a clandestine party in West Town that celebrated the legalization of cannabis while embracing the ever-booming black market.

Dozens of attendees paid $ 55 to $ 108 just to enter the Windy City Smoke Up, which allowed for open weed consumption and was billed as a cannabis exhibit with live art and music. Afroman, the rapper best known for his stoner anthem “Because I Got High,” was listed as the main attraction.

In a warehouse on the 2100 block of West Fulton Street, cannabis smokers sat on leather sofas and got banged as a DJ spun rap and vendors sold their wares, including various merchandise black market jars similar to those found in highly regulated dispensaries across the state.

“It’s one step closer to what I wish we could do everywhere, instead of just Illinois,” said Niko Bretti, 26, of Springfield, smoking in a VIP lounge.

Eva Hernandez, 31, of Little Village, started Crybaby Sweets four years ago and now produces pot-infused products which she markets online, delivers herself and has sold at similar events. At $ 10 a drink, its infused brownies, cake truffles, and drinks are much cheaper than similar offerings at licensed jar stores in Illinois.

Eva Hernandez, selling edibles infused with cannabis, was among the vendors at Windy City Smoke Up on Sunday.
Tom Schuba / Sun-Times

And while her business remains underground, Hernandez said legalization has made her less fearful of unwanted attentions.

“Everything is still illegal like f — but it’s not that much of a repercussion now, which is good,” Hernandez said of his products. “Like no one is going to test my pastry to see if it contains real weed.”

Dom Brown organized the Sunday party and other similar events; its goal is to “normalize cannabis, make it accessible and eliminate the stigma,” he said.

“I saw a space in Chicago where no one was willing to take the risk of producing an event like this – which is 100% legal as long as you follow the guidelines,” said Brown, who also hosts a pot-centric YouTube show called “Wake and Cook.”

Chicago City Council does not have rules for public drinking salons, which state law only allows in dispensaries and tobacco shops with local approval. A bill stalled in Springfield earlier this year would have given counties and towns the power to authorize the sale and use of marijuana at temporary events, cannabis clubs and cannabis tours.

Brown, 32, argued his event was a private matter, by invitation only, and therefore was not subject to the same public consumption rules. But in case any problems did arise, his lawyer and a cop on leave were both there.

Although Brown lamented Illinois’ troubled social equity licensing efforts and complained that “big corporate brands” still dominate the legal pot market, some existing operators have been listed on flyers. as sponsors. Those companies – Green Thumb Industries, Progressive Treatment Solutions and Dispensary 33 – did not respond to requests for comment.

Hailing from California, where a robust gray market still thrives, Brown said he was only “following the road map of what other thriving cities are doing.”

“When we fly and shoot [the YouTube show] in those places it’s so normalized, it’s so relaxed and it’s so part of their society, ”he said. “That’s why I come back here and do my job to get things done. “

A flyer for the Windy City Smoke Up event on December 5, 2021.


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