Inside Chicagoland’s first cannabis consumption lounge – RISE Mundelein

Published on July 12, 2022 · Last updated July 27, 2022

Take a trip on the good ship Leafly to RISE Mundelein in Illinois

With the legalization of adult-use cannabis in Illinois, Chicago has become a cannabis destination hotspot within the Midwest, especially given all the other fun shit to do in Chicago while you’re stoned.

RISE’s innovative on-site cannabis experiences put it at the forefront of the evolving social cannabis scene in Illinois.

Whether you’re a visitor looking for fun weed experiences in the Chicago area or a local resident looking for something new, there’s a must-do Illinois cannabis experience you should take in.

It’s just a little bit north of Chicago at RISE dispensary’s Mundelein location, where you can purchase adult-use and medical cannabis, and also smoke it on the premises at one of the state’s only cannabis lounge experiences.

On-site consumption is technically legal in Illinois if a dispensary has a license for it. However, locations are exceedingly rare in Illinois thanks to property costs, staffing needs, and mandatory approval by local authorities. In fact, 18 local businesses wrote to the village board to oppose Rise’s on-site consumption license in Mundelein, but not even that could stop this exciting location from becoming a reality.

Making the trek to Mundelein 

Map showing the train ride between Chicago and Mundelein
Chicago Metra’s North Central Service (NCS) can take you directly to Mundelein, IL.

Prior to adding the bright, social lounge experience to celebrate 4/20 in 2022, RISE dipped its toe into providing people with a consumption experience with a smaller, more moody “smokeasy” at their Mundelein dispensary location. Today, the location remains the only one for miles and miles where you can also buy your weed.

My fiancé and I decided to make a reservation (a must, which you can do through their website) and hopped in our car on a sunny Saturday afternoon to make the most of a weekend day trip.

Mundelein is just 35 miles to the north of the city, and depending on where you live in Chicago, takes about an hour.

If you don’t own a car, don’t want to spend the gas money getting up there, or don’t have a sober driver (which you need if you’re planning on consuming cannabis at the lounge), you can also take a North Central Service (NCS) Metra train to Mundelein, then catch a bus or rideshare the rest of the way.

The drive was relatively easy after we hopped off the bustling highway, especially for me in the passenger seat, as I took my fiancé through a painfully detailed, six-album retrospective of my favorite Kanye West songs. A treat for her, I am sure.

An impressive, organized dispensary experience

RISE dispensary lounge with green walls, chairs, a bar
No need to wait in lines—you can buy your buds in the lounge. (Courtesy C. Merten)

RISE’s attention to detail was evident as soon as we rolled up. They had designated and convenient parking (be still, my Chicago heart!) for both recreational shoppers and medical patients, with the latter getting priority parking closer to the dispensary.

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After parking in the adult-use lot just across the street, we strolled over to the fast-moving queue of people at the front entrance. Check-in was swift, and after walking through a museum-like corridor of cannabis history, we entered a cavernous room filled with natural light, RISE-branded smoking accessories, and folks buying weed.

Like many dispensaries, RISE has different checkout areas for recreational and medical purchases, which helped keep the fairly large crowd moving. Employees stationed throughout the dispensary were very helpful, ushering us through the purchase atrium to the lounge’s host stand.

One standout part of the experience I noticed was that you can skip the lines and purchase cannabis within the lounge itself. You can also make your purchase with a debit card which was truly clutch.

Hopefully, with recent legislative efforts like the CLIMB Act, streamlined payment like this will become a reality at dispensaries across the country.

Getting settled and ready to smoke

The host seated us inside the bright, airy lounge room, decorated with lush emerald green tones, neon signs, and art-deco flourishes. You can tell that RISE put a lot of care into designing the onsite consumption experience. This isn’t a bunch of rickety card tables in a basement. This is an atmosphere.

After a couple of minutes, our fabulous server, MK, arrived. She walked us through a tablet menu, telling us her favorite flower and extract products and giving us recommendations based on our preferences, tolerance levels, and mood. Note: you can purchase edibles there, but they respectfully ask that you do not consume them.

Deciding that extracts were a little too intense for our day trip (especially with my partner driving), we opted for flower. We chose RYTHM, a brand also owned by RISE’s parent company, Green Thumb Industries. Specifically, RYTHM’s Space Cream and Florida Cake strains.

MK then ran us through a variety of ways to smoke our weed, from cones to bongs to the extremely cool Stüdenglass Gravity Pipe, the table-top gravity bong experience we ended up ordering.

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Once our cannabis was ready at the pickup station, adjacent to the gorgeous rig- and bong-lined bar on the back wall, we paid and made our way back to the table where the Stüdenglass Gravity Pipe and an array of luxe smoking accessories awaited us.

Enough taking in the sheer modernity, aesthetics, and seamlessness of the Lounge. It was time to get high as hell!

Smoking weed, but in a fancy way

In all senses of the word, the Stüdenglass fucked me up.

The Stüdenglass is not for beginners. (Courtesy C. Merten)

It looks beautiful on the shelf, but seeing it in action is a totally different thing—it’s the most sophisticated take on a gravity bong I have ever seen. It has a rotating glass chamber that fills with thick smoke upon flipping, sending an intense-yet-smooth hit shooting out of the mouthpiece.

Was I ready for just how hard it would hit when our server loaded it up with a fat bowl of Florida Cake? Absolutely not.

Even as someone who loves a scrappy DIY gravity bong, I was not quite prepared. Was I absolutely spellbound by it? 100%. It was completely breathtaking (pun intended), and a very cool and mesmerizing smoking mechanism fit for social media bragging.

Despite coughing my lungs out in front of our server, (MK, if you are reading this, I promise I am a freelance writer for Leafly. I’m not an imposter slash cannabis newbie, despite that embarrassing display.) I really loved it!

I see why this thing retails for $600. Later in our session, we packed a cone with the Space Cream cannabis, and I had a nice (and much less cough-y) time with that, too.

smoking accessories weed lighter
(Courtesy C. Merten)

The room was filled with smokers of all experience levels and methods, so don’t feel pressured to try something that feels a little too intense or unfamiliar. We found the lounge to be an upbeat and approachable place, so you won’t feel odd leisurely puffing a preroll, even if you’re next to a table of half a dozen bros absolutely ripping dab after dab, as we were.

Sit back and enjoy the high

Something that really impressed us was the way the smokeasy experience was so much more than just a bar-but-make-it-weed.

With Mario Kart stations, carafes of water, and a full selection of board games, the lounge is about more than just getting high. It’s about really savoring your high in a way that is distinctly different than the experience at your traditional booze-soaked bar.

At this point in our two-hour reservation, I was well and truly baked. After some good in-depth conversation with my (very patient) fiancé, a couple of glasses of water, and some riveting coral reef action via the nature documentary streaming on the mounted TVs, we grabbed a deck of Uno cards. We played a few extremely entertaining rounds, laughing and carrying on until our time was up. I also saw several people writing, drawing, and even reading around us in the lounge – all phenomenal ways to spend an afternoon.

Once we reached the end of our lounge adventure, we packed up our leftover cannabis and headed out towards the sun-soaked gravel lot, having had one of the most pleasing and curated cannabis experiences I can remember. 

uno cards weed smoking
Careful, you may lose count of your cards! (Courtesy C. Merten)

On our way out, we passed the entrance to the Smokeasy room, and while the Lounge definitely felt more like our scene, I recommend checking out the Smokeasy if you want more of an intimate and dramatic vibe. If it’s anything like the Lounge, you’ll have a great sesh there, too.

Cannabis culture is about more than just getting stoned. It’s also about the welcoming environment cannabis can instill in our homes, our house parties, and now in public consumption venues.

I spent the rest of the weekend thinking about all the possibilities the expansion of on-site consumption holds for cannabis business owners and enthusiasts alike. It was, in so many ways, an inspiring trip.

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Verdict: Check it out! 

With so many great dispensaries in Chicago, it can feel like the pinnacle of Illinois cannabis exists only within city limits. But the fact of the matter is—there are great dispensaries, events, and experiences all over Illinois, including in suburbs and small towns that wait outside of major tourist hubs.

RISE’s innovative on-site cannabis experiences put it at the forefront of the evolving social cannabis scene in Illinois. It should be on the map for any cannabis enthusiast not only in the Chicagoland area but in the Midwest as a whole.

Make a reservation, travel responsibly, and bring a little bit of cash to tip your server. It’s not mandatory, it’s just nice! Caring people like MK are going to make sure you have a great time, especially if you’re lighting up with that Stüdenglass, because damn.

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C. Merten
C. Merten
C. Merten is a Chicago-based writer, creative, and cannabis enthusiast. Their passions include breakfast, 70's music, pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain.
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