Wake-N-Bakery officially opened its Homewood location on Friday, July 15. The shop is part of a chain of cafés that sell cookies, cakes, brownies, other pastries, lattes, teas and lemonades with federally legal, hemp-derived cannabinoids such as Delta-8 THC, THC-O and CBD. They also sell pre-rolled “joints” and THC-infused gummies.
Several pieces of commissioned artwork are hung on the walls at Wake-N-Bakery in Homewood. Music plays softly. Tables, chairs and couches are throughout the room, available for customers to lay out their laptops and use the Wi-Fi or chat and hang out with friends. A selection of board games is available.
Wake-N-Bakery also offers customers a hammock with a flashing sign next to it that says “High You Doing.” Customers can sign their names and add comments on a whiteboard. At least four different color markers are available to do this.
Because the chemicals are derived from hemp rather than marijuana, all products at Wake-N-Bakery are federally legal. Like a liquor store, Wake-N-Bakery asks customers for photo identification. You must be 21 or older to purchase Wake-N-Bake’s products. Some products contain less than 0.3% of Delta-9 THC derived from hemp. While this is the same psychoactive chemical in marijuana, this is within the federally legal limit.
When the Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp, lawmakers didn’t write anything in the bill regarding Delta-8 or other hemp-derived cannabinoids, which effectually made them federally legal.
Since 2018, Delta-8 and other hemp-derived cannabinoids have been put in gummies and pre-rolled “joints” sold at gas stations and convenience stores. This is not just in states like Illinois where marijuana is legal, but other states, including Indiana and Missouri where it remains illegal.
“The main difference between hemp and marijuana is that you need more hemp-derived THC to feel that psychoactive high. And it is going to be more of a body sensation – verses, like, a heavy, head high,” said Sean Garcia-Kalusa, the executive director of management training for Wake-N-Bakery. “For people who are newer to THC or don’t use THC often, it’s a really good introductory to the process of using THC as a normalized daily use.”
Co-founder Brianna Banks said Wake-N-Bakery emphasizes health and healing in addition to recreational usage. This includes customers who have a drink in the café to deal with their anxiety and cancer patients who use Wake-N-Bakery products to increase their appetite.
“Healing is a core component to the culture of Wake-N-Bakery,” Garcia-Kalusa said. “We want to provide people a safe space to come in and learn about THC use. So, they can normalize the use and make sure they’re using it correctly – and not just get super stoned or super high. We can do that for you, but we do a lot of education as well.”
Wake-N-Bakery has a wide range of products for those with both high tolerances and low tolerances. Banks said Wake-N-Bakery has a doctor working for them who helps put together the formulas in their products.
According to Garcia-Kalusa, some people travel to Wake-N-Bake, and their café can increase the number of customers at other businesses in the neighborhood.
“People come to us and then they go and explore the neighborhood,” Garcia-Kalusa said.
“It is important for consumers to be aware that Delta-8 THC products have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safe use in any context,” said Napoleon Haney from the Village of Homewood, but he acknowledged the law allows the shop to operate.
The Homewood location is run by franchisee owners Jeree Ford and her fiancé Jonathan Thornton. Wake-N-Bakery has other locations in Chicago’s Wicker Park and Lincoln Park neighborhoods and north suburban Northbrook.
Ford said she and her fiancé looked around the South Suburbs for a place like Wake-N-Bakery. She said they chose downtown Homewood because they wanted somewhere with “foot traffic.”
“Homewood is a very beautiful place,” Thornton said. “It’s beautiful just to be around here. We come through here a lot. That’s why we chose this location.”
Wake-N-Bakery is at 18211 Dixie Highway, a store formerly occupied by Mitchell’s Ice Cream.