It ended just about as quick as it started. Illinois, the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana, is facing supply and staffing issues only one week out of the gate. Short story? There’s a shortage of cannabis flower in the state.
Not only was recreational marijuana legalized starting January 1, but in 2019, the number of medical marijuana patients almost doubled, and that took a big bite out of the available supply. Some retailers had to limit recreational purchases to edibles and vape cartridges.
High demand resulted in several recreational dispensaries closing shop on Monday, January 6. Customers bought approximately $3.2 million in marijuana on January 1. They generated more than $10.8 million in sales within the first five days of legalization.
The massive demand for rec weed was more than anticipated, and several stores stopped their recreational sales — but product shortage isn’t the sole reason some stores shut down. Employee exhaustion also caused some to close their doors for a few days.
Cresco Labs shut three retail stores down to give their employees a break after working 14-hour days for days on end. Jason Erkes, in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, said they closed shops in Chicago, Rockford, and Champaign while staff resets. “There are no product supply shortages,” Erkes told the Chicago Sun-Times. ”Just a shortage of state-approved employees to help efficiently service the hundreds of people that have been showing up every day to make their first legal cannabis purchase in Illinois.”
Supplies will remain limited while the industry develops, and the stuff doesn’t grow overnight. The state has 20 licensed medical marijuana cultivation facilities, and those will be the ones allowed to grow recreational cannabis at the start of legalization. The current number of cultivators will remain the same for the rest of 2020. Still, applications for craft grow licenses — allowing for the cultivation of up to 5,000 square feet — kicked off January 7.