Vertical Dispensary hosts grand opening in Cary with former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon

McHenry County has four and soon to be six dispensaries by the end of this year

Ross Vehing of Crystal Lake talks with former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon as he signs autograph for him during the grand opening of the Vertical Dispensary on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Cary. The dispensary has been open for about a month.

The intersection at Northwest Highway and East Main Street was bustling with people parking near and far to get to the grand opening event of Cary’s first cannabis dispensary.

Many were wearing Bears jerseys and holding footballs as they anticipated meeting former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who was signing autographs at the dispensary.

Vertical Dispensary, at 20 Northwest Highway, Cary, hosted its grand opening Saturday afternoon. More than 300 people attended the event that had food, music and vendors.

Vertical is one of four marijuana dispensaries in McHenry County, with RISE in Lake in the Hills, Ivy Hall in Crystal Lake and Spark’d in Richmond. EarthMed in McHenry and another Spark’d location in Crystal Lake are set to open later this fall.

Vertical Dispensary has been open since Aug. 2, General Manager Jack Weiss said. The number of customers has been steadily increasing steadily, but Weiss said he expects awareness to increase after the grand opening.

“We’re only going up,” Weiss said. “That’s why we’re called Vertical.”

McMahon was there to promote the marijuana brand Revenant that he co-founded with former NFL players Kyle Turley and Eben Britton. Revenant CEO Mike Lankford said he was inspired by McMahon’s message that marijuana gave his life back.

At one point, McMahon was prescribed 100 pills of oxycodone a month for chronic pain he developed from football injuries, Lankford said. Marijuana helped McMahon manage his pain without the addictive side effects opioids have.

“This is a solution and opioids are not,” Lankford said.

A goal for Revenant is to have its products sold in all 23 states that have legalized recreational marijuana use, something that hasn’t been done by any other marijuana brand, Lankford said.

McHenry County is expected to receive $1 million in Cannabis Consumer Excise Tax revenue in 2023. Last year, the county received more than $680,000 from the tax, according to McHenry County financial records.

Last month, more than $139 million of retail marijuana sales were recorded in Illinois, according to state documents.

Last year, marijuana sales generated more than $435 million in dispensary tax revenue, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

The state uses the tax revenue to fund various departments and budgets including Illinois State Police, the Cannabis Expungement Fund and the Department of Public Health. Last year, more than $89 million went to the statewide general revenue fund and more than $64 million went to the Criminal Justice Information Authority, which funds violence prevention programs such as the Restore, Reinvest and Renew Program.

But not everyone is supportive of the marijuana movement. McHenry County State’s Attorney Pat Kenneally last month threatened to sue dispensaries that don’t post mental health warnings. Vertical Dispensary received a letter from the state’s attorney’s office, and Kenneally said he would start negotiations soon.

“In our opinion, examples of promoting overconsumption and/or therapeutic claims would include any statement that cannabis product is medicine or treats, alleviates, helps with, is good for, or is used by those with a medical or emotional condition,” Vertical Dispensary Development Director Anthony Rein wrote in a prepared response.

The dispensary has no further updates or comment on the matter, Rein said Saturday.

Rein said that he’s proud of the turn out for being a “small ma and pop business.”

“As much as we’re working with the big leagues, we’re still a small operation,” Rein said. “We just roll up our sleeves and make it happen.”