For the first time in the state’s history, Illinois has sold more marijuana than it has alcohol. Sales of medical cannabis have increased by more than $50 million since Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a new bill into law in August.
As the state with the highest number of medical cannabis cardholders per capita, Illinois is expected to see a flood of new customers at the state’s new retail shops, which are scheduled to open in September. A big reason for the boom is the recent Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park, which was attended by more than 400,000 people, and fueled a surge in sales of cannabis products available at the festival.
Thousands of out-of-state enthusiasts descended on Chicago for the four-day festival, increasing sales at neighboring dispensaries by as much as 50%.
In July, Illinois dispensaries sold a record $127.8 million in recreational marijuana, with out-of-state fans flocking to Chicago for the Lollapalazoo music festival providing a significant boost.
According to a monthly report from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, sales were 10% higher than May’s record of $116.4 million, which was marginally higher than June’s $115.6 million.
During the four-day Lollapalooza festival, which concluded Sunday and was rescheduled after last year’s event was postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic, business soared at Chicago-area cannabis shops.
Pot was allowed in Illinois at Lollapalooza for the first time in the festival’s 30-year history since recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois in January 2020. Despite the fact that smoking or otherwise using marijuana in public or among anybody under the age of 21 is prohibited, the huge crowds at Grant Park increased sales at neighboring dispensaries in River North and the West Loop by as much as 50%, according to operators.
“Thousands of festivalgoers visited our River North shop over the weekend, making it our busiest weekend to date,” said Jason Erkes, a spokesperson for Chicago-based Cresco Labs, whose Sunnyside Dispensary in River North was the closest to the events.
In July, Illinois’ 110 dispensaries sold a total of 2.8 million recreational marijuana items, setting a new high. According to the state, locals spent nearly $85 million, while sales to out-of-state consumers totaled $42 million, up 16 percent from June.
Summer tourists and Lollapalooza participants were major contributors to out-of-state purchases in July, according to Erkes.
Illinois is one of 18 states that have legalized recreational marijuana usage, despite the fact that it remains illegal under federal law. The state has made $753 million in recreational cannabis sales so far this year, which is more than all of previous year.
Last year, total sales were $1.03 billion, including $669 million in recreational marijuana sales and more than $366 million in medicinal marijuana sales.
The state of Illinois has yet to disclose its July medicinal marijuana sales statistics.
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