Half a billion dollars. That is how much money the state of Illinois raked in from the legal marijuana market in its first year of operation.
Chicago-based television station WREX reported that the state generated $582,226,511.45 in revenue from recreational pot sales from January through November. The state’s Department of Revenue, according to the station, said that Illinois took in “more than $75 million in revenue in sales with the bulk of sales coming from in state residents” in October and November. Revenue totals from December are reportedly not yet available, and the figures do not include medical marijuana sales.
It is yet more evidence of a banner opening year for Illinois’ nascent weed market, which officially opened for business a year ago. Customers turned out in droves at the state’s newly opened dispensaries on New Year’s Day 2020, forming long lines and creating a carnival atmosphere as Illinois became the latest state to end pot prohibition. There were more than 77,000 transactions completed that day, totaling more than $3.2 million in sales. Within the first week, several dispensaries throughout the state ran out of weed.
By the end of that first month, Illinois officials reported nearly $40 million worth of recreational marijuana sales. After the first two months, the figure had grown to more than $74 million. In June, months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois dispensaries sold more than $47.6 million in cannabis products—breaking the record that had been set the previous month.
“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,” Toi Hutchinson, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s senior advisor for cannabis control, said at the time. “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.”
Cannabis Reform In Illinois
Indeed, the establishment of a regulated marijuana market was only one part of Illinois’ cannabis reform. The new law has also resulted in the expungement of thousands of previous low-level marijuana convictions in the state. Pritzker kicked off the new year last week by issuing more than 9,200 pardons to individuals previously arrested for pot-related offenses.
“Statewide, Illinoisans hold hundreds of thousands low-level cannabis-related records, a burden disproportionately shouldered by communities of color,” Pritzker said, as quoted by local TV station 14NEWS. “We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of that damage. But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past—and the decency to set a better path forward. I applaud the Prisoner Review Board, the Illinois State Police, and our partners across the state for their extraordinary efforts that allowed these pardons and expungements to become a reality.”
Pritzker said the state had expunged almost 500,000 low level pot busts, something he said put Illinois “four years ahead of schedule.”
“We reached this milestone one year into what will be an ongoing effort to correct historic wrongdoings fueled by the war on drugs,” Pritzker said on Twitter. “We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of the damage in communities of color, who have disproportionately shouldered this burden. But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past — and the decency to set a better path forward.”