ILLI­NOIS RAKES IN $52M FROM POT TAX OVER FIRST 6 MONTHS OF LE­GAL WEED

Chicago Sun-Times - - NEWS - TOM SCHUBA RE­PORTS,

Af­ter cam­paign­ing and mak­ing good on a prom­ise to lift the statewide pro­hi­bi­tion on mar­i­juana, Gov. J.B. Pritzker an­nounced Tues­day that Illi­nois col­lected over $52 mil­lion in taxes dur­ing the first six months of le­gal­iza­tion.

Sales of recre­ational cannabis started on Jan. 1, when hordes of ea­ger pot buy­ers flooded the few dozen med­i­cal dis­pen­saries that were able to tran­si­tion into du­aluse stores. And with pot busi­nesses deemed es­sen­tial in the wake of the COVID-19 pan­demic, monthly sales have re­mained strong.

Weed shops un­loaded nearly $48 mil­lion in pot prod­ucts in June, mark­ing the most suc­cess­ful month of sales so far, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased by the Illi­nois Depart­ment of Fi­nan­cial and Pro­fes­sional Reg­u­la­tion. All told, more than $239 mil­lion worth of recre­ational weed has been sold since the start of the year.

More than $34 mil­lion of the rev­enue came from ex­cise taxes, far more than the $28 mil­lion Pritzker’s bud­get es­ti­mated the state would col­lect dur­ing the same pe­riod. Another $18 mil­lion was col­lected through sales taxes that will be shared with lo­cal gov­ern­ments, ac­cord­ing to the gov­er­nor’s of­fice.

The Illi­nois Depart­ment of Rev­enue es­ti­mates that nearly $26 mil­lion will go to­ward the state’s Gen­eral Rev­enue Fund.

Aside from the eco­nomic boost, Pritzker’s of­fice em­pha­sized the law’s sweep­ing crim­i­nal jus­tice re­forms and pro­vi­sions to bol­ster mi­nor­ity par­tic­i­pa­tion in the bur­geon­ing in­dus­try and cre­ate new fund­ing for blighted com­mu­ni­ties.

“Illi­nois has done more to put jus­tice and eq­uity at the fore­front of this in­dus­try than any other state in the na­tion, and we’re en­sur­ing that com­mu­ni­ties that have been hurt by the war on drugs have the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate,” Pritzker said.

A quar­ter of all rev­enues will ei­ther be in­vested in com­mu­ni­ties that have been dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected by the jus­tice sys­tem, pri­or­i­tized to ad­dress sub­stance abuse and men­tal health is­sues or al­lo­cated to lo­cal­i­ties for crimepre­ven­tion pro­grams.

Toi Hutchin­son, Pritzker’s se­nior ad­viser for cannabis con­trol, touted the law for “cre­at­ing eq­uity in the cannabis in­dus­try in a way that no other state has done.”

“By ex­pung­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of cannabis-re­lated records, rein­vest­ing the money spent on adult-use cannabis in Illi­nois into com­mu­ni­ties that are suf­fer­ing, and mak­ing eq­uity a cen­tral fo­cus of the cannabis li­cen­sure process, the ad­min­is­tra­tion is en­sur­ing that no com­mu­nity is left out or left be­hind,” Hutchin­son said in a state­ment.

How­ever, the first round of new cannabis li­censes pri­or­i­tized for so­called so­cial eq­uity ap­pli­cants have all been de­layed in­def­i­nitely in the wake of the COVID-19 cri­sis, stymy­ing a key as­pect of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s agenda.

SUN-TIMES FILE

More than $34 mil­lion of state mar­i­juana tax rev­enue in the first six months of 2020 came from ex­cise taxes, well above a $28 mil­lion es­ti­mate.

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