We started with a simple question: “What’s in your weed?”
To find out, first the Chicago Sun-Times obtained data from the Illinois Department of Agriculture on failed lab test results.
We filed a total of six public records requests under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act that brought thousands of electronic “pages” — all released only as PDF files despite being asked to view electronic records.
Sun-Times reporters entered more than 3,000 rows of results into a spreadsheet to better understand why some weed in Illinois fails state-mandated tests to ensure safety and never makes it to dispensary shelves.
Then, we went shopping.
We bought a total of nine packaged pre-rolled joints, one of the most popular legal weed products, shopping at seven dispensaries in Chicago and the suburbs. We also bought a chunk of cannabis flower at an eighth dispensary.
Reporter Stephanie Zimmermann entering the Columbia Care dispensary in Jefferson Park. Brian Ernst / Sun-Times
The pre-rolls were grown at cultivation centers owned by these growers: Green Thumb Industries, Verano Holdings, PharmaCann, Ascend Wellness Holdings and Acreage Holdings.
They were purchased at shops operated by some