Cannabis in Illinois
Marijuana Venture’s ongoing series on every legal market in the United States explores the ever-changing rules and regulations, market trends, demographics, business leaders and more for each state that has legalized recreational marijuana. This month takes an in-depth look at Illinois, the 11th state to enact a recreational cannabis program.
In 2019, Illinois became the first U.S. state to establish a commercial cannabis program through the Legislature, rather than a voter initiative. The passage of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act represented a shift in lawmakers’ attitudes toward cannabis that more closely resembles that of the general public and set the stage for legalization in other states that don’t allow ballot initiatives, including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.
Since adult-use sales began on January 1, 2020, Illinois has rapidly become one of the largest cannabis markets in the country, topping $1 billion in combined medical and recreational sales in year one. Despite a shortage of cannabis and a severe lack of retailers — just 55 licensed shops for a state with nearly 13 million residents — Illinois is on pace for about $1.6 billion in total sales in 2021.
The state is expected to begin licensing new retailers, cultivators and manufacturers later this year, though lawsuits have hampered the state’s roll-out thus far.
Illinois is also capitalizing on being surrounded by six states that prohibit recreational cannabis, only two of which have any sort of medical marijuana program. Out-of-state residents account for about 30% of adult-use cannabis sales in Illinois.
Illinois’ medical program also continues to grow. The state legalized medical marijuana in 2013, but the first dispensaries didn’t open until late 2015. Though the comprehensive medical program grew much slower than that of other states, there are now more than 150,000 registered patients.
Next month, Marijuana Venture will look at Arizona. For information about upcoming issues or to learn about advertising and sponsorship opportunities, email Editor@MarijuanaVenture.com.
A special thanks to Herbal Remedies for sponsoring this issue.
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