After generating $40M in January from cannabis sales, Illinois has now beaten its previous record, with $44.3M in cannabis sales in May.
Illinois, in many ways, has served as a unique litmus test for the U.S. cannabis industry. Illinois was the 11th, and most recent state to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes in the United States, and it did so in January this year – right before the COVID-19 pandemic, the ensuing economic issues that resulted from the lockdowns, and the most recent riots and protests that erupted following the death of George Floyd.
In many ways, this sounds like the worst possible time to legalize cannabis in a U.S. state, and difficulties have certainly arisen amid this period. While the cannabis industry was largely deemed "essential" amid COVID-19, the industry has received no federal coronavirus-related support due to its federal illegality.
Despite all of this, Illinois's cannabis industry has continued showing strength month after month, achieving a record-high $44.3 million for the month of May, with $10.2 million attributable to out-of-state visitors. This surpasses the state's previous record of $39M in January, which was the first month of legal cannabis sales in the state.
Almost 1 million products were purchased, according to Illinois officials, and the average sale in May was $44.80. Prior to May, Illinois had generated over $40 million in cannabis taxes in the four months since cannabis was legalized in the state.
While January seemed like the peak for Illinois with regard to cannabis sales due to the hype surrounding the initial legalization of cannabis products, the continued growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing protests/riots throughout the country suggest that Illinois has far from peaked in terms of cannabis sales.
If Illinois is used as a litmus test for other states who are considering cannabis legalization, it may serve as a good example of the economic benefits that cannabis legalization can bring about.
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