Illi­nois’ record pot sales con­tinue with $61 mil­lion in July; to­tal since le­gal­iza­tion sur­passes $300 mil­lion

Illi­nois sets new bench­mark with $61M in recre­ational pot sales in July

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY TOM SCHUBA, STAFF RE­PORTER tschuba@sun­times.com | @TomSchuba

Illi­nois dis­pen­saries sold a record $61 mil­lion in recre­ational pot prod­ucts in July, eclips­ing the pre­vi­ous bench­mark set in June by more than $13 mil­lion.

In the first seven months since recre­ational cannabis was le­gal­ized, the Illi­nois De­part­ment of Fi­nan­cial and Pro­fes­sional Reg­u­la­tion have re­ported over $300 mil­lion in to­tal sales.

Illi­nois res­i­dents bought up $44.7 mil­lion of the $60.9 mil­lion worth of pot prod­ucts sold last month, ac­cord­ing to the IDFPR. All told, nearly 1.3 mil­lion prod­ucts were sold through­out the state.

July’s fig­ures trump the pre­vi­ous sales records set a month ear­lier, when dis­pen­saries sold 994,545 in­di­vid­ual items to­tal­ing $47.6 mil­lion.

Illi­noisans have pur­chased most of the state’s recre­ational weed, with monthly sales fig­ures in­creas­ing by 46% since Jan­uary. Dur­ing that same stretch, sales to out-of­s­tate res­i­dents have jumped from $8.6 mil­lion to $16.2 mil­lion in July, amount­ing to a nearly 87% in­crease.

While the ini­tial recre­ational sales were made by a few dozen med­i­cal dis­pen­saries that con­verted into dual-use stores when the le­gal­iza­tion law went into ef­fect, new recre­ational stores have since started crop­ping up. Though pot stores were deemed es­sen­tial in the wake of the COVID-19 out­break, the ex­pan­sion of the new mar­ket has been stymied by a per­va­sive sup­ply short­age that has re­quired some dis­pen­saries to limit the amount of dried cannabis flower cus­tomers can pur­chase.

Andy Seeger, a cannabis con­sul­tant and blog­ger, said that Illi­nois grow­ers have in­vested in ex­pand­ing their cul­ti­va­tion fa­cil­i­ties to ramp up pro­duc­tion.

“This is prob­a­bly the re­al­iza­tion of that com­ing to mar­ket,” said Seeger. “So build­ing out those grow houses, build­ing out those fa­cil­i­ties, get­ting seeds in the ground and then all of the sud­den we see that har­vest come to mar­ket like we did a cou­ple months ago in May.”

Cresco Labs, a River North­based com­pany that grows and sells weed in Illi­nois and other states, is among the op­er­a­tors that have re­cently opened new lo­ca­tions and ex­panded their grow­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Flower is avail­able for pur­chase for recre­ational cus­tomers, he said.

“In our case, we have all three of our cul­ti­va­tion fa­cil­i­ties pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity [and] high-vol­ume yields, which is re­sult­ing in more in­ven­tory and big­ger bas­ket sizes at the re­tail level,” said Cresco spokesman Ja­son Erkes.

De­spite the in­dus­try’s rapid growth, Seeger warned that the mar­ket is still “very re­stric­tive with very few play­ers.” As the ex­ist­ing play­ers have been able to cash in on the record sales, he noted that new li­censes to grow, sell, trans­port and in­fuse cannabis prod­ucts have been de­layed in­def­i­nitely in the wake of the pan­demic.

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