Amid strict social distancing guidelines in response to the raging Coronavirus pandemic, cannabis sales in Illinois went up to more than $34 million while out-of-state purchases hit $10 million.
Highest records since legalization
In May alone, cannabis sales in Illinois were more than $44 million. This marks the most successful month of cannabis sales after the state fully legalized the drug at the beginning of 2020.
According to figures released by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the strict social distancing guidelines did not deter residents from buying more than $34 million worth of weed. Out-of-state purchases accounted for an additional $10 million.
In January this year, Illinois legalized adult-use of cannabis, which saw sales skyrocket to $39.2 million as users thronged dispensaries to get the first bite of legal weed in the state.
According to Andy Seeger, a cannabis industry analyst at the Loop-based Brightfield Group, the demand for legal cannabis has remained strong despite the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. He added that for consumers, marijuana, like alcohol, looks like “one of the last purchases to cut if necessary” but is “quickly picked back up upon employment.”
He stated that sales could be higher for recreational cannabis if not for supply limitations and a growing demand for medical cannabis. However, with the delayed issuance of recreational licenses due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Seeger believed there aren’t currently enough cultivation centers and dispensaries to push recreational sales significantly higher.
Some weed stores closed
Meanwhile, some weed stores in Illinois were compelled to halt business after being hit hard by looters. The shops were targeted in the recent wave of protests and looting that gripped the city following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 30.
Affected dispensaries were The Herbal Care Center on the Near West Side and Mission in South Chicago. The dispensaries will remain closed for weeks as earlier reported. The protests are still ongoing in various parts of the state. On Thursday, June 11, NuMed dispensary in West Town also closed temporarily for the same reasons.
In late May, some stores such as Dispensary 33 in Uptown and Sunnyside in River North also closed but have since resumed business. These closures might have a big impact in recreational cannabis sales in the coming months, as Seeger says, they will “constrain sales” further.