CHICAGO – In the first five days of legal recreational cannabis sales in Illinois, media reports said cannabis vendors raked in nearly $11 million. Legalization was implemented in the state on January 1.
Sales were so brisk, they may have depleted statewide product inventory—a common phenomena for new markets as distributors and retailers scale up, but also proof of enthusiastic demand from local recreational users. According to the Chicago Tribune, 271,000 transactions were processed in the five-day time period.
Some retailers closed temporarily as they restocked products. According to local news site BlockClubChicago.com, by January 6 at noon all but one Chicago retailer was closed, due to product shortages. Before running out of product, stores had hours-long lines of consumers, who waited for up to seven hours for their chance to buy legal cannabis products. Block Club Chicago noted that long lines had discouraged some.
“We have been experiencing daily wait times anywhere between three to seven hours since we opened and have not quoted anybody a specific time, as we don’t know,” Sunnyside-Lakeview store spokesperson Jason Erkes told the news site. Sunnyside is owned by Illinois-based cannabis manufacturer/distributor Cresco Labs.
“We have cut the line off daily at around 3:00 p.m. to make sure all the people in line get served and have been providing food, beverages, and even entertainment while people have been waiting,” Erkes added.
There are thirty-seven licensed recreational cannabis vendors in Illinois. According to nonprofit organization IllinoisPolicy.com, “Beginning in mid-2020, Illinois will grant additional licenses to dozens of new stores, processors, cultivators, and transporters.”
The state will beginning granting new licenses in May, said the Chicago Tribune, and officials already have selected the first round of seventy-five licensees from more than seven hundred applications.
Illinois residents are allowed to possess up to thirty grams of cannabis (a little over an ounce), up to five grams of cannabis concentrate, and are limited to a total of five hundred milligrams of THC, for edibles and other products. Visitors to Illinois are permitted to have half of those amounts, per product category, for personal consumption.
Prior to legalization, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued more than 11,000 pardons for cannabis offenses as a New Year’s Eve nod of support for legal cannabis legislation, as well as to to address “the 50-year-long war on cannabis,” Pritzker said in a statement.
“Tomorrow when adult-use cannabis becomes legal, pay attention to the fact that we are beginning to accomplish four very important things: We are ending the 50-year-long war on cannabis. We are restoring rights to many tens of thousands of Illinoisans. We are bringing regulation and safety to a previously unsafe and illegal market. And we are creating a new industry that puts equity at its very core,” he said further.