Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Illinois Marijuana Sales Reach Record Highs

From The Shepherd Express:

As soon as Illinois legalized recreational marijuana, hundreds of people braved the January weather to wait in line in front of specialized stores. One of the very first people past the doors on day one was Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, who bought a tin of edible gummies. In the first five days of legal pot sales, dispensaries have sold more than $10.8 million worth of it, the office of Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced, and more than 270,000 individual purchases were recorded. In just the first day, Illinois weed sales had reached $3.2 million.

These are the highest sales ever recorded for the launch of legal recreational pot in any state thus far. The only comparable contender is Oregon, which legalized marijuana through an emergency bill one year earlier than initially planned, allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell to everyone instead of limiting sales to licensed recreational retail shops. At the time, there were more than 250 medical marijuana dispensaries running in the state, giving Oregon a sharp advantage over Illinois, which only had 37 stores selling recreational marijuana on legalization day. Despite that edge, Oregon saw slightly lower sales than Illinois, reaching the $10.8 million figure in six days rather than five.

Colorado made about $1 million on the first day of recreational sales, Massachusetts made $400,000 and Michigan made $200,000. Exact figures aren’t available, but we know Nevada averaged $1 million a day in sales for the first few days after legalization, and Washington struggled to get sales off the ground at first, despite being a cannabis powerhouse today with more than $1.3 billion in marijuana sales in the fiscal year 2017 alone.

In Alaska and California, the figures aren’t known, but California might be the only state with first-day sales comparable to the massive movements observed in Illinois and Oregon. The other two states to have legalized recreational pot, Maine and Vermont, haven’t started selling it in retail locations yet. Sales are projected to start in March 2020 in Maine, while Vermont hasn’t made the regulated, commercial sale of recreational marijuana legal—although cultivation, consumption and possession were fully legalized through the state’s legislature.

RELATED: Tickets are now on sale for our first-ever WI Cannabis Expo to be held Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020 at the Wisconsin Center. The one-day expo will feature exhibitors and talks by experts in the cannabis, CBD and hemp industry. For more information, visit WICannabisExpo.com.

The resounding success of this first week of sales in Illinois is a milestone for the entire country. It shows that, when a state properly rolls out and regulates adult-use marijuana, it can be a resounding success. Since Illinois taxes marijuana products from 10% to 25% depending on the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content, the high sales represent a potentially massive tax revenue for the state. Part of that revenue will be reinvested to support communities that have been negatively impacted by the so-called “War on Drugs.” To further serve the social justice goal of the legalization bill, Pritzker pardoned more than 11,000 people who had been convicted for cannabis possession the day before the substance went on sale publicly.

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