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Illinois Sells Nearly $40 Million Of Recreational Marijuana In January

A worker trims marijuana plants in Ascend Illinois' growing facility in Barry, IL.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio
A worker trims marijuana plants in Ascend Illinois' growing facility in Barry, Illinois. In the first month of 2020, Illinois sold nearly $40 million of legal recreational marijuana.

BELLEVILLE — Illinois’ recreational cannabis industry is off to a strong start. 

Sales of recreational marijuana totaled $39.2 million in January, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced Monday. 

In the 31 days after recreational marijuana became legal in the state, consumers bought almost one million individual cannabis products. Illinois residents accounted for the majority of transactions, buying $30.6 million of legal marijuana. Out-of-state residents bought $8.6 million.

The sales figures from the state only account for recreational marijuana and don’t include medical marijuana sales, which have traditionally been reported by the Illinois Department of Health. 

Illinois Supply and Provisions (formerly HCI Alternatives) in Collinsville is the only dispensary in the Metro East that currently sells both recreational and medical marijuana. Lines at the dispensary average 90 to 120 minutes.

“I continue to be amazed the lines are still there," said regional director Kathleen Olivastro. "This is the new normal.”

The nearly $40 million one-month sales figure outpaced other states’ early sales numbers. For example, Colorado didn’t break $40 million of recreational cannabis sales in a single month until March 2015, and Washington state didn’t hit that mark until May 2015 — both more than a year into their respective recreational marijuana programs.

And Illinois is in the middle of a cannabis flower shortage. Dispensaries across the state are limiting how much people can buy or cutting back on the days they are open to recreational consumers

Illinois Supply and Provisions frequently rotates the products it offers to keep up with consumer demand, Olivastro explained.

“We identify items at the end or beginning of the day to give choices,” she said. “We try to put things on the menu that have a healthy supply.” 

The system helps the dispensary serve customers every day amid the shortages, Olivastro said. 

The level of demand for recreational marijuana in Illinois and the Metro East is also a boon for Collinsville, which has the only open recreational marijuana dispensary for now. The Green Solution, in Sauget, has a license to serve recreational consumers but has not announced when it will do so. 

“This has generated a lot of trips to Collinsville in a positive way,” said Collinsville assistant city manager Derek Jackson. 

Jackson said he hopes people who are visiting the dispensary also spend money at a restaurant or gas station before leaving. But the city also taxes individual marijuana purchases and stands to make between $1 million and $1.3 million each year in sales tax revenue. 

“We’re expecting that ballpark conservatively,” Jackson said. “We’ve seen reports anywhere up to $3 million to $4 million on an annual basis.” 

Eric Schmid covers the Metro East for St. Louis Public Radio as part of the journalism grant program Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. Follow Eric on Twitter: @EricDSchmid

Send questions and comments about this article to: feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Eric Schmid covers business and economic development for St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.