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Illinois Officials Report Marijuana Sales Reached Nearly $40 Million in January

Recreational marijuana sales in Illinois started off on a high note.

Massachusetts Officially Begins Recreational Cannabis Sales
Ky Camacho/ Shutterstock

Licensed cannabis dispensaries in Illinois rang up more than $1 million in cannabis sales per day in January, totaling nearly $40 million in the first month of legal recreational pot. Sales of cannabis for use by adults began January 1 after Illinois became the 11th state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana in June.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reported on Monday that sales of cannabis products for the 31 days of January came to a total of $39,247,840.83, with more than $8.6 million in purchases being made by visitors from out of state. The total number of cannabis products sold during the month was 972,045.

“The successful launch of the Illinois legal cannabis industry represents new opportunities for entrepreneurs and the very communities that have historically been harmed by the failed war on drugs,” said Toi Hutchinson, Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s senior advisor for cannabis control in a press release. “The administration is dedicated to providing multiple points of entry into this new industry, from dispensary owners to transporters, to ensure legalization is equitable and accessible for all Illinoisans.”

At the Mission South Shore cannabis dispensary in Chicago’s South Side, patrons waited in line for hours to make purchases when legal recreational pot sales started at the beginning of the year. But a month later, most customers are able to complete their transactions within half an hour, according to Kris Krane, the president and co-founder of 4Front Ventures, which owns the shop.

“It really feels like it has normalized quite a bit,” said Krane. “I would expect that at this point, this is just kind of the new normal.”

But Shortages Cut Into Sales

Even with the strong showing in sales, totals for the month likely would have been significantly higher if not for shortages of some products. To comply with a state law requiring dispensaries to maintain a 30-day supply of product on hand to serve the needs of medical marijuana patients, many retailers enacted limits on purchases or suspended sales to recreational customers. At Midway Dispensary near the Midway Airport, sales of recreational products were temporarily halted after only four days.

“The demand was huge,” said Neal McQueeney, principal officer of Midway. “We knew we were going to run out. It was a matter of when, not if.”

And Keith McGinnis, principal officer at NuMed, said that attempts to limit sales of recreational cannabis were not enough to avoid shortages. Recreational sales at the Chicago NuMed were also suspended during the first weekend of legalization.

“It didn’t matter how much you had, you’re going to run out,” he said. “You can set limits, purchasing limits, but still you’re going to run out.”

Sean Johnson, the manager of the NuMed dispensary in Urbana, said that it could be another month before the state’s cannabis growers are harvesting enough product to serve the recreational market.

“A lot of these cultivators, it doesn’t seem like they really started doing anything until Pritzker signed the bill,” Johnson said. “So I don’t think we’ll see full production until around March.”

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