In the Land of Lincoln, marijuana sales continue to impress, with June representing a record month for recreational pot in Illinois.
According to figures released by the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and reported on by the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper, dispensaries in Illinois sold more than $47.6 million in cannabis products last month. The paper said that “994,545 items were sold, averaging almost $48 per purchase, not including taxes,” and that $35.2 million of the sales were generated by Illinois residents, while $12.4 million came from purchases made by individuals who live out of the state.
Breaking records has become a monthly ritual for Illinois’ nascent recreational marijuana industry. In May, the state set a record with $44.3 million in adult use pot sales. The state set a high bar from the jump. In January, when the new law took effect, recreational weed sales in Illinois nearly hit $40 million. On New Year’s Day alone, when hordes of people lined outside the state’s dispensaries for an historic toke, sales eclipsed $3 million. By the end of February, two months into the new policy, the state’s recreational marijuana market had hit $74 million.
“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. “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.”
With June’s numbers added, “dispensaries have sold $239.1 million in marijuana products,” according to the Daily Herald, which also noted that, through May, Illinois’ tax collections from marijuana totaled $52.7 million. “That’s well above the $28 million estimated in this year’s budget, which ended June 30,” the paper said, adding that tax revenue from the June figures should be made available this month by the Department of Revenue.
COVID-19 and a New Cannabis Market
Both recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries in the state benefitted from Pritzker’s decision to deem them as essential businesses at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic did, however, delay the awarding licenses of 75 new recreational marijuana dispensaries in April. Hutchinson said at the time that Pritzker’s administration “remains committed to creating a legal cannabis industry that reflects the diversity of Illinois residents.”
“We recognize that countless entrepreneurs were looking forward to May 1 and the next step it represented for Illinois’ adult use cannabis industry,” Hutchinson said. “However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in the application review process. This executive order will help ensure that we continue to build out this industry in a deliberate and equity-centric manner.”
In addition to legalization, Pritzker on New Year’s Eve issued more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions.
“We are ending the 50-year-long war on cannabis,” Pritzker said at the time. “We are restoring rights to tens of thousands of Illinoisans. We are bringing regulation and safety to a previously unsafe and illegal market. And we are creating a new industry that puts equity at its very core.”