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Marijuana is no longer a ‘dirty little secret.’ Weed sales are soaring in Illinois, and the pandemic is helping.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, 33-year-old Katie Johnston-Smith was feeling “a good, healthy amount of panic.”

She tried wine but it didn’t help. She took a marijuana-infused edible, and a calmness washed over her and sleep came easier.

“It was pretty nice, because it did help me mellow out,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is way better than mellowing out with a glass of wine.‘”

The Roscoe Village neighborhood resident went from using marijuana a couple of times a month before the pandemic to a couple of times a week.

Experts say she is not alone.

The pandemic has sent people searching for ways to cope with the anxiety of a global health crisis and economic downturn. Marijuana — which only became widely legal in Illinois Jan. 1 — has emerged as the coping mechanism of choice for many. Stores selling it were deemed essential businesses

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