Recreational Cannabis Sales Begin in Illinois
Recreational sales of marijuana in Illinois officially commenced on the first day of 2020 as dozens of dispensaries across the state opened their doors to thousands of eager cannabis customers.
According to Alex Hanns, the deputy press secretary for Illinois Governor Jay Robert "J.B." Pritzker, sales eclipsed $3.1 million and more than 77,000 individual transactions occurred across the state on day one.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune reported that some shoppers began lining up to purchase cannabis at 4 A.M. on January 1.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation currently lists 46 adult-use cannabis dispensaries that licensed and approved to sell marijuana throughout the state.
Among the first companies to sell cannabis for adult-use in Illinois was Cresco Labs, one of the largest vertically-integrated multistate cannabis companies in the United States.
According to a press release, Cresco Labs sold cannabis offerings to 3,145 people at its five “Sunnyside” dispensaries across the state on day one. Over 9,200 products were sold to customers who spent an average of $135, Cresco also noted.
“With 13 million residents and 100 million annual tourists, Illinois is predicted to be one of the largest recreational cannabis markets in the United States,” Cresco co-founder and CEO Charlie Bachtell said via the release.
BDS Analytics, a research firm that tracks cannabis sales in the U.S., estimates that marijuana sales in Illinois will grow at a 41% compound annual rate through 2024. Also by 2024, Illinois is predicted to become the fifth largest cannabis market in the U.S. and the seventh largest market in the world.
“Cresco is uniquely positioned in the supply-constrained state, with permission for the largest cultivation footprint at 630,000 square feet and ten retail dispensaries, including three in high traffic areas in the city of Chicago,” Bachtell added.
A study conducted by by consulting firm Freedman and Koski earlier this year determined that demand for dried cannabis in Illinois could approach 550,000 pounds annually, once the market is fully mature. The firm also found that roughly 945,000 Illinois residents (21+) are likely to be cannabis users while more than 10 million visitors could purchase marijuana from a dispensary during trips to the Prairie State.
Under Illinois law, residents who are at least 21 years old may legally possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower and up to 5 grams of cannabis concentrate.
The state could bring in $250 million in tax revenue by 2022, according to the Boston Herald.
Cannabis-infused offerings carry a 20% tax, while marijuana containing 35% THC or less will be taxed at 10%. Meanwhile cannabis with THC content above 35% is taxed at 25%.
Illinois is the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana. Under state law, individuals with convictions involving the possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana will have their cases referred to Gov. Pritzker for a pardon.
On December 31, Gov. Pritzker granted more than 11,000 pardons to individuals with low-level cannabis convictions.
“We are ending the 50-year long war on cannabis,” Pritzker said in a statement. “We are restoring rights to many 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.”
State officials said there were 116,000 records eligible for expungement via the pardon process, while more than 700,000 records will be eligible for some relief under the current law.
According to a press release, local law enforcement agencies and the Illinois State Police will “automatically expunge arrest records that did not result in a conviction up to 30 grams.”
Upwards of 572,000 arrest records are eligible for expungement, the state noted.
"As we start a new decade, Illinois has achieved a monumental milestone - launching the legalization of cannabis in a way that includes communities left behind for far too long, creates good jobs and expunges thousands of records for those who have lost out on opportunities and ends prohibition," said Toi Hutchinson, a senior advisor to Gov. Pritzker.
The sale of recreational cannabis is also legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
Meanwhile, 33 states have legalized medical cannabis sales and 47 states have reformed cannabis laws.