Imagine this: Doctor Evil, rubbing his hands together in gleeful delight, saying, “One BILLION dollars.” He could be talking about Illinois cannabis sales in 2020; the state hit a considerable number, logging over $1 billion in sales during the first year recreational cannabis sales were legal.
Illinois state officials reported that the total doesn’t include December’s medical cannabis sales figures. For context, though, medical marijuana dispensaries sold more than $331 million from January – November 2020. Adult-use recreational weed sales in December were a whopping $87 million, around $10 million more than sales in November.
By October 2020, officials revealed that the state had already collected over $100 million in revenue. These sales have generated a ton of revenue for state programs. Officials are working to put those funds to use with social justice programs for communities impacted by the war on drugs. Twenty-five percent of cannabis-derived tax revenue will go to restorative justice grants. The remaining funds will go toward substance abuse/misuse and mental health treatment.
Illinois has established a state-funded initiative to help residents of the state with marijuana convictions obtain legal aid and other related services with the end goal of getting records expunged. Similarly, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced over a half-million expungements and pardons for individuals with low-level weed-related offenses.
The year ahead for the cannabis industry in Illinois looks bright in 2021, too, with additional municipalities allowing marijuana stores, increasing retail openings, and considering other applications. Even during an unprecedented pandemic, the state of the industry and related sales figures shows that the market is “pandemic-proof”.