CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s first medical marijuana dispensary, Dispensary 33, officially opened its doors today at the corner of Clark and Argyle in what was once a pizza place.

Co-owners Kristie and Zach Zises held an open house for the neighbors of Andersonville last weekend and a ribbon cutting for lawmakers and dignitaries on Monday.

“We love this area,” said manager Paul Lee. “We knew the community would be very accepting of us. We worked with the community to make sure they are okay with us being here. We wanted to show the people what we’re doing and be very transparent. This area is probably the best areas in Chicago for a cannabis dispensary.”

Only customers with medical marijuana who are registered with their dispensary of choice will be allowed in to the store’s retail area.

“All our employees are experts on cannabis, or enthusiasts at the very least, as far as research on what cannabis can do for people,” Lee said. “It’s just like any other retail location, really.”

Dispensary 33 is located in a building that used to be a pizza place. (Credit: Lisa Fielding)

Dispensary 33 is located in a building that used to be a pizza place. (Credit: Lisa Fielding)

Dispensary 33 employees are still waiting on the dispensary’s official license from the state before they can start selling but Lee expects a huge crowd.

“We expect it to be a lot because we are the first in Chicago,” he said. “I know The Clinic in Mundelein had literally hundreds of patients each day so we are preparing ourselves for something like that.”

Dispensary 33 will not only offer medical marijuana, but it will also serve as a wellness center.

“These dispensaries are safe,” said Caprice Sweat, of Medical Cannabis Outreach. “They are wellness centers. We feel good when we walk in here. They are safe for the community. The citizens of Andersonville and Chicago severely need this facility.”

Only customers with medical marijuana who are registered with their dispensary of choice will be allowed in to the store’s retail area. (Credit: Lisa Fielding)

Only customers with medical marijuana who are registered with their dispensary of choice will be allowed in to the store’s retail area. (Credit: Lisa Fielding)

Sweat is also a patient.

“I suffer from Crohn’s disease and it debilitated me,” she said. “Someone said try cannabis, and I stopped taking all of the medications. Medical cannabis absolutely changed my life. I’m a mother, a grandmother, I travel, I run several businesses all while medicated on cannabis and not taking one narcotic. I feel from my soul for every patient that comes here.”

The four-year pilot program of marijuana sales in Illinois allows for 18 cultivation centers and 60 dispensaries of the drug. Many additional licensed sellers will open up shop by the end of the year.

On Nov. 9, five Illinois dispensaries opened: in Addison, Quincy, Canton and Mundelein and downstate Marion.

Dispensary 33 will likely have product to sell by the first week of December.