Dr Lungzzz

Welcome Dr Lungzzz to Chicago!

Head shops have been stoner classic locations in mainstream America since the 60’s. Once considered souvenir shops for hippies and stoners alike, they have now flourished and evolved into clean cut supply shops. As a smoker who began her career begging gas stations to sell my underage ass some blunts, it feels good to walk into a respectable cannabis related shop. One of these being Dr Lungzzz Smoke Shop. I had a chance to talk to Dr Lungzzz, owner of Dr Lungzzz Smoke shops, about his new Chicago location and his vision for places like his in the industry. There’s no denying the part that head shops play in cannabis culture. With news of the oldest head shop in Chicago closing, we are starting to see the needs of cannabis consumers change.

We no longer need to hide, and displaying pride in our favorite plant is celebrated.

Sitting down in Pilsen, he told me all about his hopes for coming into the city. A confident businessman, he told me that Dr Lungzzz is straight to the point. He wants to be the Doctor for your Lungs. Stocking a variety of carts and flowers from Delta 8 to CBD, he has a little something for everyone. This isn’t a cheesy gift shop, this is a fully functioning smoking environment. With clear respect for the glass and unique pieces they stock. “Now we can be wide open, whereas before there had to be code words and all types of hoops in order to buy supplies for weed” Reminiscing over the “For Tobacco Use Only” signs that littered smoke shops back in the day.

Dr Lungzzz Pipes

“There used to be a real fear that if a city worker came in and asked for something to smoke weed out of and you helped them, you could get fined. You wouldn’t admit to smoking. We’re more open now, and able to do more things” says the infrequent smoker who admittedly prefers prerolls. It’s true, legalization changed the climate for this industry, even employees who would then only secretly admit to smoking, now openly discuss it with customers and on social media. “When we do job applications, we ask. Do you smoke? How do you plan on selling our items if you don’t smoke? How can you recommend them?” A clear indication of how the times have changed. And it’s also a clear indication that when you shop at Dr Lungzzz, you have a team of knowledgeable people to help you.

The biggest highlight is arguably his entrance into the industry. “Somebody from my background, who’s been to the fucking joint, going to jail for weed, and now being here. Some people are getting rich from weed. I would never have expected to own this type of business. But since I couldn’t sell weed, I could sell its accessories without getting in trouble.” It’s commendable, and just a sign of the potential of what cannabis can do. In terms of generation wealth, uplifting communities, and people who were at once affected by weed being criminalized. “My goal is to help others make money. I wanna show my friends who I grew up with in the business that I can show them how to make money this way.“

When it comes to cannabis, Illinois is often compared to other states.

California is a huge topic when it comes to cannabis in Illinois. There’s this constant idea that the weed is greener in California. “We’re 23 years behind. In California, there’s one (smoke shop) on every corner. There’s still so much growth left in Illinois. Because even though there are smoke shops and dispensaries on nearly every block (in California), there are still so many more openings. Which shows you the demand.” California, currently facing its own cannabis dilemma, is considered the mecca. The dream. Yet as we have learned in recent headlines, it is hardly the ideal system. Sure, their mountains give way to some amazing flower, but even the greenest weed gets bogged down by bureaucracy.

“Everyone wants to be in Chicago.”

“It’s a different vibe. There’s more foot traffic, there’s always something going on. And as someone from the suburbs, I love it. I don’t want to go back. It’s beautiful. But it was hard. It took us a year to get licensed and open.” It’s true, Chicago has so many problems in terms of its processes and laws. It’s one of the most beautiful cities, and also one of the historically most corrupted. Yet still has garnered significant revenue from the legalization of cannabis. Not just in cannabis sales, but in all of the other businesses that cater to cannabis consumers. And head shops are essential. They are the place where stoners not only buy their rolling papers and blunts, but a place where you can buy and try new and different products. Especially nowadays, when dispensaries leave so much to be desired. The places where we buy weed don’t offer a stoner experience, but head shops do. 

“It’s disappointing the way we now have to go to the dispensary. Mom and pop weed shops were the original way to buy weed.” And it’s true. We are forced to shop at dispensaries where we are surrounded by security guards and where we can’t even smell  or look at the weed we’re buying. If legalization had gone the way we all wanted it to, we would be buying weed from these smoke shops. “When we talk about places like Sunnyside, you don’t know that owner. You only know the employees. But you can’t sit down, smoke a joint and chop it up with their employees. That’s the type of industry we’re in” We’re far from being able to buy from consumption lounges or to display and demonstrate the weed in a real way, but the hope is there. And people like Francisco are looking forward to when things change.

So why Dr Lungzzz?

“Because it’s us. We are your neighborhood shop, the place where you can come in and know these people and talk about the products. I love my brand, but I’m not gonna lie, I love the people who are working with me more. It’s a lifestyle, not just something that makes money. I like the events, I like the things we’re involved in.” Apart from the variety of smoking accessories, you’ll notice the art on the walls. Something that is celebrated in Pilsen, and a very nice touch. “We have a few people that we followed. At my other locations we have local people give us art. We put it on the walls and people can buy it. Just as a way to help them sell it. As soon as we meet more locals here, we can start putting up more local art. Our Aurora location has things that were made specifically for us. We love art. As grown as we are and as our customers are, we sell coloring books. People love them. They get high and zone out and color”

Dr Lungzzz Products

Some of his favorite products are currently the carts.

Ever popular, you can find a variety of Delta 8. Different strains for different highs. He has CBD edibles that he also enjoys. “There’s always something new popping up. Some of the most popular products are blunts. You would think people would have moved on to papers or glass pieces, but no blunts are still best sellers. I guess blunts just hit differently.” A sentiment I can definitely get behind. Once upon a time smoke shops were considered to be for tobacco, but here in Chicago we’re not allowed to sell nicotine products. “And the Posh. This is Chicago, we’re not allowed to sell it here. But back home (Aurora) that’s our best seller.” One of his most interesting additions: a coffee infused with shrooms. “It’s supposed to give you a body high. We just got these in since they became legal in California.”

Dr Lungzzz

One thing about this industry, like with many, is the constant threat of fakes. Go to any gas station and they sell anything from Cookies products to carts. It’s shady businesses that create negative experiences for new users. “There should be someone watching the products. The products that hit gas stations aren’t even real. They’re not being tested. And it messes it up for us. But I stay in my own lane and I have my own following. People who are buying these products should know what they’re getting.” It’s why pride in one’s products is important, because of the legitimacy of his business. It’s what’s important, to establish a good following with people who understand and trust your legitimacy.

So what’s in the future for Dr Lungzzz?

There are high hopes for Chicago. “I hope Chicago embraces me. Embraces me like back home where I’m from. So I’m just hoping to get the same love wherever I choose to expand. So that I’m able to build more stores, get more partners. I get people who are 60-70 years old now, coming in asking about CBD and THC. Now that it’s legal, it’s a platform that’s doing good for people. Chicago is a big city. If you can make it out here, you can make it anywhere.” It’s no random thing that he’s located in Pilsen. With a father from Michoacan, he’s happy to be around “His people”. Right on Halsted, a great spot I believe.

Head Shops are a vital resource for cannabis consumers. And Dr Lungzzz is very aware of the underground scene and its current importance to Chicago cannabis culture. “Socializing within the cannabis industry is going to underground events. That’s how you’re able to smoke with each other. Every state has an underground movement, it’s a part of the culture that doesn’t go through the system.” You can follow Dr Lungzzz on Instagram and Facebook to stay up with the events they get involved with. “Everybody smokes. Doesn’t matter the race or color, everyone loves smoking weed. And Chicago is known for its underground market, from bars and now weed.” 

Dr Lungzzz is open from 10am to 11pm, Monday through Sunday. Stocking some of the newest and funnest products in cannabis. Conveniently located on Halsted, close to I-94. Make sure you guys go visit Dr Lungzzz and his team and let them know Mex and the City Chicago sent you. Thank you to Francisco for sitting down with me and giving me a tour of his new location and favorite products.

Mex and the City Chicago is a Cannabis Blog from the Point of View of a Brown Cannabis Consumer. Maintaining a strong belief in social equity, I discuss my opinions on the topics of cannabis politics, products and events.

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