On Monday, Illinois swore in its 43rd governor, one who has shown a more lenient attitude toward the legalization of marijuana. Coincidentally, starting on Wednesday, Chicagoans will be able to buy CBD-infused chocolate chip cookies at a bakery with locations in Lincoln Park and West Loop.
It appears Warm Belly Bakery will be the first bakery with its own retail space to sell cookies infused with CBD. That’s the already-legal substance produced with hemp that supposedly carries health benefits. CBD lacks the intoxicating substance in marijuana, THC.
Customers will have to be at least 18 if they want to buy the CBD chocolate-chip cookies at either Warm Belly Bakery. The cookies will be individually wrapped and kept in a separate area of the bakery, away from its normal dessert assortment. They’ll cost $5 each. Warm Belly owner and baker Joe Dela Peña feels customers in their late 20s to early 40s will be curious about the alleged positive effects CBD (research is inconclusive) could have on their bodies. He wanted to innovate and saw a niche no one’s filled in Chicago.
“CBD is really hot right now and it’s kind of lost its stigma,” Dela Peña said.
Over in Logan Square, an upcoming bar opening later this month, Young American, will serve CBD-infused cocktails. New Yorkers have seen plenty of CBD products. CBD cookies are already available in Chicago, as are other items. CBD-Infused Edibles is a Chicago-based company that supplies cookies to grocers around the city. But Warm Belly is first to sell them in its own space. The bakery debuted in 2016 at 1148 W. Monroe Street in the West Loop and opened a Lincoln Park location last year at 2472 N. Clark Street.
Warm Belly uses CBD powder — not the more commonly used oil — which Dela Peña mixes with butter. While the normal Warm Belly cookie is dense and chunky, the CBD cookies will be mini sized with 30 mg of CBD. Dela Peña reasoned that those wanting the benefits from CBD won’t want to be weighed down. His research showed the normal CBD range in products was 10 to 50 mg. Dela Peña has tested recipes for months and worked with Iron Laboratories, a cannabis-testing facility with locations in Michigan and Oregon. The powder’s easy to work with and Dela Peña said customers will struggle to taste any differences between a CBD cookie and a regular one.
The initial supply will be small when Warm Belly begins selling CBD cookies on Wednesday. Down the line they may make more than chocolate chip. CBD is legal across the country and is in a different category compared to marijuana edibles. Those are goods, like cookies or gummies, laced with THC. They’re not legal in Illinois. Superstar Chicago chefs like Iliana Regan (Elizabeth) and Mindy Segal (HotChocolate) have plans to sell edibles in other states. But the market could quickly change as Governor J.B. Pritzker, who took the oath on Monday, supports legalizing marijuana in Illinois. For his part, Dela Peña said the timing of Warm Belly’s announcement was coincidental and had nothing to do with Pritzker taking office. He was trying to secure attorneys’ approvals.
Assuming the new governor is successful in persuading Springfield lawmakers to legalize weed, would Warm Belly ever expand into the edible business?
“I wouldn’t be opposed to it,” Dela Peña said. “We’ll just kind of see where the winds take us with the new governor with state law and things like that.”