$40 million in first month of legal pot sales

  • Illinois' recreational marijuana retailers generated nearly $40 million worth of sales and taxes during the first full month of legal sales, according to state figures.

      Illinois' recreational marijuana retailers generated nearly $40 million worth of sales and taxes during the first full month of legal sales, according to state figures. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, Jan. 1, 2020

 
 
Updated 2/3/2020 2:16 PM

The state's recreational marijuana retailers generated nearly $40 million worth of sales and taxes during the first month of operations, nearly a quarter of which came from non-Illinois residents.

That's according to a news release from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which announced sales figures for January reached $39,247,840.83.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Of that, $30.6 million was sold to Illinois residents. The other $8.6 million was generated by out-of-state buyers.

The 972,045 sales transactions in January amounted to an average of $40 per purchase. The state has 45 stores offering recreational sales, which averages to nearly $900,000 in sales per store.

Tax money from recreational sales will go toward an array of state services, including community development in areas "harmed most by the failed war on drugs," officials said. By the end of February, the Illinois Department of Revenue is expected to determine how much of the first month's sales figure was tax money.

Taxes on recreational marijuana vary depending on the potency of the drug. Under the law, 35% of marijuana tax revenues will go to the state's general fund; 25% will go to the "restore, reinvest and renew," or R3, program, an effort to reinvest in communities most affected by the criminalization of marijuana; 20% will go to address substance abuse and mental health; 10% will go to pay the state's bills; 8% will be distributed among local governments to support law enforcement; and 2% to fund a public education campaign and data analysis about the effects of legalization.

Later this year, municipal and county taxes will also be applied to marijuana sales.

"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 Toi Hutchinson, senior advisor for cannabis control to Gov. J.B. Pritzker. "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."

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New retail licenses will be issued in the coming months to provide for sales in more commercially viable locations throughout the state. Currently, retailers already set up to sell medical marijuana are allowed to sell it for recreational use. In the suburbs, the locations now offering recreational sales are in Addison, Mundelein and North Aurora. Most of those operations are in industrial areas, rather than commercial districts.

Legal sales of marijuana began Jan. 1 and was met with enthusiasm as stores reported hundreds of people waiting in line on the first day. Stores generated $3.2 million in sales and taxes that first day, state officials reported. Sales were so brisk initially, that some stores closed for a day in the first few day as supplies dwindled and concern grew that medical marijuana users would be turned away as well. Also, some stores just wanted to give workers a break, operators said at the time.

Daily Herald Staff Writer Elena Ferrarin contributed to this report.

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