By Jerry Nowicki
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Legal marijuana sales in the state remained strong in February, with nearly $35 million spent on marijuana and infused products in the second month of adult-use legalization.
Customers spent $34.8 million on 831,600 items over the 29-day period. Of that, $25.6 million was spent by Illinois residents, while out-of-staters spent about $9.2 million, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
The numbers do not include taxes collected.
“These numbers show there continues to be a strong demand across the state as the most equity-centric cannabis program in the country moves forward in Illinois,” said Toi Hutchinson, senior cannabis advisor to Gov. JB Pritzker. “As the adult use cannabis industry continues to grow, so will the number of opportunities for consumers and entrepreneurs alike – especially those from communities who suffered the most during the failed war on drugs.”
The numbers are down slightly from January, which saw $39.2 million in sales over a 31-day span. That generated $7.3 million in cannabis tax revenue for the state, plus another $3.1 million in retail sales taxes that are shared between the state and local governments. Tax numbers for February are not yet available.
The state’s share of cannabis tax revenue is divided among several funds, including 35 percent to the state general fund, 20 percent to substance abuse programs, 10 percent to a budget stabilization fund, 8 percent to local governments for crime prevention and 2 percent for public education and public health data collection.
Another 25 percent goes into a special fund for community development projects in areas with high arrest and poverty rates that were disproportionately affected by the “war on drugs.”
The state is also accepting applications for new licenses as part of the program’s initial rollout. Aspiring craft growers, cannabis infusers and transporters can apply with the Illinois Department of Agriculture through 5 p.m. March 16. The applications are available on the Department’s website at https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/agr/Plants/Pages/Adult-Use-Cannabis.aspx.
The program favors “social equity applicants,” which are companies with a majority stake from those who live in disproportionately impacted areas, have been arrested for offenses eligible for expungement through the legalization program, or have family that falls into the disproportionately impacted category.
Those applicants receive additional points on their application and are eligible to receive technical assistance, grants, low-interest loans and fee reductions and waivers.