It has been a 50-50 year for Illinois’ adult-use cannabis program. As in a 50% increase in sales, and a 50% increase in tax revenue.
The state’s governor trumpeted the figures in an announcement on Monday, saying that Illinois “has seen a 50% increase in total tax reported from adult-use cannabis, from $297.7 million in fiscal year 2021 to $445.3 million in fiscal year 2022,” as well as a 50% increase in adult-use cannabis sales, from $1 billion in fiscal year 2021 to $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2022.
“Illinois has done more to put justice and equity at the forefront of this industry than any other state in the nation and has worked to ensure that communities hurt by the war on drugs have had the opportunity to participate,” Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, a Democrat, said in the announcement. “The $1.5 billion in sales of adult-use cannabis in Illinois translates into significant tax revenue with a portion of every dollar spent being reinvested in communities that have suffered for decades.”
The announcement said that “cannabis tax disbursements to local governments saw a significant jump from fiscal year 2021 to fiscal year 2022, increasing 77% from $82.8 million to $146.2 million,” and that under the state’s recreational cannabis law, “25 percent of tax revenue generated from cannabis sales must support communities that are economically distressed, experience high rates of violence, and have been disproportionately impacted by drug criminalization.”
Illinois’ new cannabis law has become a centerpiece of Pritzker’s first term, with the Democrat up for re-election this year.
Pritzker signed a measure legalizing recreational pot use for adults in 2019. The state’s regulated cannabis market opened for business at the start of 2020.
In January, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) reported that adult-use weed sales doubled in 2021, going from around $669 million in the inaugural year of 2020 to $1,379,088,278.61 last year.
Along with the formation of the regulated market, Illinois’ new marijuana law has also focused on remedies toward individuals and communities who have been adversely affected by the War on Drugs.
When the new law took effect at the start of 2020, Pritzker marked the occasion by issuing more than 11,000 pardons for non-violent cannabis offenders.
“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.”
Last month, Pritzker announced plans to award 185 new cannabis dispensary licenses with a particular focus on non-white applicants.
“Today marks the beginning of the next chapter of the most equitable adult-use cannabis program in the country,” Pritzker said in announcing that plans for the lottery. “After signing the most equity-centered program in the country into law, expunging thousands of low-level cannabis convictions, and investing tens of millions of dollars in cannabis proceeds in communities failed by the war on drugs, we are about to more than double the number of adult use cannabis dispensaries in Illinois. This means countless more opportunities for communities that have suffered from historic disinvestment to join this growing industry and ensure its makeup reflects the diversity of our state.”
In the announcement on Monday, Pritzker’s office said that, to date, “the State has awarded $113.5 million in grants, using funds generated from taxes on adult-use cannabis sales to support and invest underserved communities through Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority’s Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) Program.”