State trails only California in first month of adult-use sales.
Illinois can’t stock its shelves fast enough.
Almost US$40 million was voluntarily handed over to 41 cannabis stores in January, the first month of legal recreational cannabis sales in the state, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
Dispensaries moved 972,045 individual marijuana products adding up to US$39.2 million, reported the Chicago Sun-Times, placing it behind only California (US$70 million) for the highest sales by a state in its first month of adult-use legalization. It is believed the gap would have been even smaller had supply been able to keep pace with demand.
“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, Illinois’s cannabis czar, said in a news 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,” Hutchinson continued.
Illinois residents were responsible for US$30.6 million worth of total sales, with the remainder attributable to out-of-state visitors. The impressive haul doesn’t include medicinal marijuana sales, and although numbers for January are not currently available, Illinois patients spent over US$27 million on their medication in December.
Some dispensaries, such as West Town’s NuMed, were forced to limit recreational sales to Tuesdays and Saturdays until it was able to secure more product. “We are hoping to expand that to more days very soon,” spokesperson Jonah Rapino said.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure we have the right relationships with the cultivators in Illinois to make sure we have more supply for all of our locations, including Chicago,” Rapino added.
While analysts predict the shortages will persist for months, he said that he is seeing more products becoming available and is optimistic the dispensary will be able to provide for the “hordes” of new customers coming through the door.
“It’s not like a leap forward,” Rapino said. “It’s definitely inching along towards better.”
Other outlets, such as South Chicago’s Mission, did not turn away recreational customers, but capped sales at just 3.5 grams per person — well below the state’s legal possession limit of 30 grams — until supply can catch up, said Kris Krane, president of the store’s parent company, 4Front Ventures.
“Things are running as smoothly as we can get them,” Krane said.
Consumers came out in force when marijuana became legal in the state on Jan. 1, 2020, spending US$3.2 million through more than 77,000 cannabis transactions on the first day of sales, according to Marijuana Business Daily.
But many customers were disappointed by a lack of selection and hefty prices when they finally made it to the front of the line.
“It was pretty limited and way too expensive,” said Valerie Gabriella, a customer who has visited dispensaries in Colorado, Washington State and Oregon, and is familiar with pricing. “I got a little bit of sticker shock… So other people are going to feel it, too.”
Illinois adds a 10 per cent sales tax to cannabis flower or products with less than 35 per cent THC. Products with a THC level of 35 per cent or more are taxed at a rate of 25 per cent and edibles are taxed at 20 per cent. The state also slaps a separate tax of seven per cent on sales of cannabis from growers to dispensaries — a charge that may be passed on to customers.
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Written by David Yasvinski