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Illinois recreational marijuana sales remain high despite COVID-19

recreational marijuana

The world is faced with uncertainties due to COVID-19, and many sectors of the global economy are crumbling. However, recreational marijuana sales in most parts of the United States, where it is legal, are high. Notably, adult-use cannabis sales in Illinois surged by over $1 million in March compared to February according to an official announcement by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Despite the public health crisis and a widespread order suspending nonessential retailers, the legal sales of recreational cannabis in the state were still booming. The users spent almost $36 million, before taxes.

These sales do not include marijuana that was sold to medical cannabis cardholders. Even though around 20,000, fewer individual items were sold in the third month of cannabis legalization in Illinois, they had higher average prices. The sales to out-of-state residents decreased, but the state’s residents made up for that decline.

In Q1 2020, the recreational cannabis sales neared $110 million. The cumulative tax revenue numbers were not immediately available, although they are likely to exceed $25 million. The Governor’s senior cannabis adviser, Toi Hutchinson, said:

“Three straight months of consistent adult-use cannabis sales show there is – and will continue to be – strong support and demand from consumers.”

He was speaking in an April 2 release announcement of the March sales totals. 

The Governor’s take

The marijuana sector is among those declared as ‘essential’ in Illinois under the stay-at-home order that was issued by Governor J.B. Pritzker on March 20. The order was issued in response to the rapid spread of the coronavirus. The Governor’s executive order included both medical and recreational elements of the industry to guarantee that cultivators continue to provide enough supplies for the patients.

After he issued a disaster declaration in March, Pritzker’s administration loosened some restrictions on the sales to medical marijuana patients. Dispensaries can sell cannabis on nearby sidewalks and curbs to patients, and their authorized caregivers provided that various security measures are observed.

Hutchinson commented:

“To ensure medical users can access the product they need during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, curbside pickup will remain an option for medical patients through April 30.”

Delivery is still forbidden, and the regulations for the recreational sales remain unaltered. Some dispensaries have stopped recreational marijuana sales, and others have restricted sales to minimize the risk of transmission of the virus.

Another bill

State Rep. Sonya Harper, who sponsored Illinois’ marijuana legalization bill and has introduced another bill to let cannabis dispensaries do deliveries, had an idea. He urged the Governor to implement instant measures to enable municipalities to have the option of cannabis deliveries, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The states that have legalized marijuana have enjoyed booming sales during the coronavirus pandemic. Some places have even seen their sales surge by up to 20%. Also, almost all 33 states that have legalized recreational and medical marijuana sales have included dispensaries in the essential services’ list. Medical marijuana is listed in the same category as grocers, liquor stores, and pharmacies.

Governor Pritzker, in his first executive order related to the deadly coronavirus outbreak, he extended the deadline for cannabis grower, infuser, and transporter license applications to April 30. Additionally, he allowed the applicants to mail their applications instead of having to do hand delivery.

The state regulators now confirm that they are still on track to issue new licenses by July 1.

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