Chicago smells like weed - and it’s not even legal yet

Chicago smells like weed - and it’s not even legal yet

By Mary Schmich

A lot of people have been wondering lately what Chicago’s going to look like once pot shops open up in the state.

Will the Magnificent Mile become the Green Mile? Will the cannabis dispensary replace the corner Starbucks? Will buses full of jolly cannabis tourists roll around town alongside the gangster and architecture tours?

Valid questions. But here’s an equally pressing one: What’s Chicago going to smell like?

When I moved to Chicago, the city had a unique aroma, one that was variously attributed to stockyard sewage, steel mill emissions and the odor of the legendarily stinky wild onion, the “checagou,” that supposedly gave our city its name.

Fortunately, that smelly stew — imagine rotten eggs mixed with blood, feces and a dollop of garlic — has vanished on the winds of history. Less fortunately, a new smell has blown in on the winds of change, and that’s the smell of weed.

By weed I don’t mean the odiferous wild onion. I mean that thing called pot, cannabis, marijuana, Mary Jane, reefer. In the past few months, the smell seems to be everywhere even though smoking it isn’t even legal yet.

I’ve smelled it on train platforms and sidewalks, in stores and a couple of times in restaurants, and it’s bound to get more prevalent.

When I started detecting the eau de Chicago cannabis fragrance several months ago, I thought I might be imagining it. I’m more sensitive to smells than many people. In fact, an editor of mine, noticing that I often described smells when I wrote, once told me I reported with my nose.

But I’ve been asking around and other people say they’ve noticed the increase too, a function, no doubt, of the fact that legal weed is on the way. Hey, why not start now?

“I work just outside the Loop and live in River North and the scent overwhelms the chocolate smell from Bloomer’s chocolate factory,” says one man.

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