Illinois Generates $40M in January Cannabis Sales

Illinois brought in over $1m in pot profits per day in January, totaling almost $40 million for the month.

As we've covered previously, the 11th state to recreationally legalize cannabis in the U.S., Illinois, was an enormous success.

On January 1st, Illinois followed the lead of ten other U.S. states by beginning their recreational weed sales, allowing adults aged 21 and older to purchase up to 30 grams of flower, edibles and concentrates from 37 state-sanctioned stores in Illinois.

At the end of the first day of legalization, nearly 80,000 people had purchased marijuana products, and dispensary owners reaped the rewards; bringing in $3.2 million for cannabis business owners across the state.

Illinois' first day of legal weed sales brought in more revenue than any other U.S. state that had legalized cannabis. Now, as the results of January's pot profits are in, it looks like the state has just found a new cash cow in cannabis – with Illinois bringing in just shy of $40 million over the month.

The state's Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced that sales on cannabis products over the month of January generated $39,247,840.83, with almost $9 million in purchases from out-of-state visitors. The $39 million was generated through the sale of 972,045 cannabis products.

"The successful launch of the Illinois legal cannabis industry represents new opportunities for entrepreneurs and the very communities that have historically been harmed by the failed war on drugs," said the senior advisor for cannabis control, Toi Hutchinson, in a press release. "The administration is dedicated to providing multiple points of entry into this new industry, from dispensary owners to transporters, to ensure legalization is equitable and accessible for all Illinoisans."

And if you thought $40 million was a lot, don't forget that the state faced pot shortages within just a week of legalization. Dispensaries reported having very limited supplies of cannabis by the end of the first week, with some stores were even forced to close early until they were resupplied, safekeeping whatever weed they had left for medicinal patients. Illinois law requires dispensaries to carry at least one month of cannabis for medicinal patients at all times.

Neal McQueeney, the owner of Midway Dispensary in Chicago stated that the shop had run out of recreational cannabis products by the first weekend of January.

The demand was huge. We knew we were going to run out. It was a matter of when, not if.

Neal McQueeney, Owner of Midway Dispensary in Chicago

Had Illinoisian dispensary owners foreseen the immense demand for cannabis products in the month and increased their supplies accordingly, it's likely the state's pot profits would have pushed well beyond $40 million for the month of January.

This is an issue we similarly saw in Canada, who's rollout of recreational cannabis sales were stifled by regulatory issues, a severe lack of brick and mortar stores, high prices, lines that were hours long, and ultimately, a lack of available product.

There's a lesson to be learned for those who are looking at Illinois and other states that have given the green light to recreational cannabis, and who might be considering the impacts of cannabis legalization where they live, and that lesson is to not underestimate the demand for cannabis products.

It's better to have too much cannabis rather than too little, as the shelf-life of cannabis is roughly a year before any noticeable deterioration occurs, which should be more than enough time to exhaust supplies in states where recreational cannabis is made legal.

Putting all of that aside, however, it seems these are all good problems to have. The cannabis industry remains strong, demand remains high, and Illinoisians are even higher. The future is green.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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