Illinois adult-use marijuana sales reached nearly $132 million in April, the second highest monthly total since the market launched in 2020 and another sign that the state’s industry is stabilizing following a slump at the beginning of this year.
The first couple of months of 2022 saw lagging sales, but state data on cannabis purchases in March and April indicates that the market is on the rebound.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) reported that there were almost $91 million in adult-use cannabis sales from in-state consumers last month, while about $41 million came from out-of-state visitors. A total of 3,102,233 individual marijuana items were sold in April.
The totals don’t include medical cannabis products, which are reported separately by a different state agency.
While Illinois broke its yearly record for cannabis sales in 2021—with more than $1.4 billion in cannabis sold last year—marijuana purchases dipped in January and February, following the December 2021 record-high of $137,896,859.
From last year’s sales, Illinois generated almost $100 million more in tax revenue from adult-use marijuana sales than from alcohol in 2021, state data found. It’s unclear what factors may have contributed to the dip at the beginning of this year, or the recent rebound. However, the unofficial cannabis holiday 4/20 takes place in April, which may have driven up sales.
Marijuana purchases also ticked up in April 2021 compared to the prior month, though the May data and subsequent months of last year were mostly higher.
With respect to marijuana tax revenue, Illinois is using part of those dollars to fund equity initiatives in the state. For example, officials announced in December that applications were opening for $45 million in new grants—funded by cannabis tax money—that will support programs meant to reinvest in communities most harmed by the drug war.
That marked the second round of funding to be issued through the state’s Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) program, which was established under Illinois’s adult-use cannabis legalization policy. The law requires 25 percent of marijuana tax dollars to be put in that fund and used to provide disadvantaged people with services such as legal aid, youth development, community reentry and financial support.
Organizations that received grants through the initial R3 round will have their funding renewed for another year to ensure that they can continue providing services in their communities.
Last year, in July, state officials put $3.5 million in cannabis-generated funds toward efforts to reduce violence through street intervention programs.
In addition to providing such funding, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced in 2020 that his office had processed more than 500,000 expungements and pardons for people with low-level cannabis convictions on their records.
A state-funded initiative was also recently established to help residents with marijuana convictions get legal aid and other services to have their records expunged.
It’s these types of initiatives that Toi Hutchinson recently told Marijuana Moment that she’s most proud of as she transitioned from being Pritzker’s cannabis advisor to the president of the national advocacy group, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
Outside of Illinois, adult-use marijuana sales launched in New Jersey last month, and the state saw almost $2 million in purchases on the first day that retailers opened.
Colorado marijuana sales have been lagging so far in 2022, state data shows.
Officials in Michigan announced in March that they will be distributing nearly $150 million in marijuana tax revenue, divided between localities, public schools and a transportation fund.
Massachusetts is collecting more tax revenue from marijuana than alcohol, state data released in January shows. As of December 2021, the state took in $51.3 million from alcohol taxes and $74.2 million from cannabis at the halfway point of the fiscal year.
Arizona generated more tax revenue to the state general fund from legal marijuana sales than from tobacco and alcohol combined in March, the state reported.
Altogether, states that have legalized marijuana for adult use collectively generated more than $3.7 billion in tax revenue from recreational cannabis sales in 2021, according to a report from MPP.
Back in Illinois, lawmakers recently sent a bill to the governor that would make it so courts cannot deny petitions to expunge or seal records based on a positive drug test for marijuana.
However, a separate House-passed bill concerning workplace protections for employees who use cannabis off-the-job stalled in the Senate before the chamber adjourned for the session.
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