East Dubuque cannabis dispensary opens, prompting optimism among city leaders

EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. — A recreational marijuana dispensary has opened its doors in East Dubuque.

The Dispensary East Dubuque, located at 1709 Illinois 35 N, opened to the public last Saturday, offering a wide selection of different recreational marijuana products, from pre-rolled joints to cannabis-infused gummies.

The store will hold a soft opening on Saturday, May 22, when it will begin its regular hours of operation.

The recreational cannabis dispensary is the second to open in Jo Daviess County since recreational marijuana’s legalization by the state of Illinois in 2019. Verilife opened a dispensary in Galena in March.

The East Dubuque store’s operators hope to not just attract Illinois customers but also those from Iowa and Wisconsin.

In its first few days, General Manager Joshua Perkins already has seen plenty of customers from out of state.

“Our very first customer was from Ohio,” Perkins said. “Then, it was Iowa, Wisconsin, Iowa and then Illinois, so the out-of-state interest is definitely there.”

The East Dubuque store is the second location for The Dispensary, which also operates in Fulton.

The East Dubuque location offers packaged marijuana flower, marijuana concentrates and a variety of marijuana-infused goods. At the moment, the store offers about 160 products, with plans of adding more in the future.

Other products include topical creams, shakes and disposable vape cartridges.

Whether it be a $30 marijuana-infused chocolate bar or a $68 package of “Double Durban Kush” flower, Jeff Soenksen, director of retail operations for The Dispensary, stressed that The Dispensary East Dubuque seeks to offer just about any recreational marijuana product that customers are interested in.

“We want to offer a wide selection of different products for people to choose from,” Soenksen said.

Perkins said legal recreational marijuana is still fairly new to the area, so part of the store’s approach will be to introduce patrons to cannabis products in an accessible way. Upon entering, customers will be asked by security to show their identification to confirm they are at least 21 years old. They then will be shown to a lobby where they can view the menu on multiple screens lining the walls. From there, customers will be guided to the retail area, where they can consult with staff on products before making a purchase.

“We know what it is like to walk into a dispensary and be overwhelmed,” Perkins said. “We want to make sure that we are taking care of our customers and helping them get any questions answered that they might have.”

The dispensary will not allow for on-site consumption.

The East Dubuque store currently has 13 employees, with plans of adding additional staff in the future.

While The Dispensary is bringing plenty of its own green products to East Dubuque, city officials hope the new business brings in another type of green as well.

“Prosperity, tax revenue, all of the above,” said Mayor Kirk VanOstrand. “We are really excited for what kind of benefit it could be for the community.”

He said he hopes to see The Dispensary East Dubuque encourage additional business development in the area.

“I think there is a lot of potential here,” he said. “We only want to see the community grow, and this kind of business really makes that possible.”