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Illinois Cannabis Sales Doubled in 2021

Although the initial year of legalized cannabis sales in Illinois was an overwhelming success, it turned out that second year was even more impressive. 

In fact, it’s twice as delicious.

A report from the grimly named Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) showed that adult-use cannabis sales in the state totaled $1,379,088,278.61 in 2021––more than double the figure from the opening year of sales in 2020, which were roughly $669 million. 

IDFPR released figures that provide information about the sales of cannabis products and the times when they were purchased. 

It was December, 2021, which saw the highest pot sales with $137.896,859.11. The same was true in 2020. December saw $86,857898.27 worth cannabis sales, making it the top-grossing months of the year. 

The IDFPR’s report also details the source of the money. The Illinois resident who sold cannabis last year was responsible for $943,013,285.67, and the out-of-state resident of $436,176.093.93

A total of 30,342,937 cannabis items were sold last year––up from 14,485,704 in 2020. 

Illinois’ recreational cannabis market opened for business on New Year’s Day 2020, a milestone that was met with long lines outside the states’ newly opened dispensaries. Only the first day of retail sales generated over $3 million and most shops were out of marijuana within the first week.

These numbers continued to rise, which gave the Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (who signed the 2019 bill legalizing recreational marijuana) a reason for celebration.

In June of 2020, Pritzker’s then-senior adviser for cannabis control Toi Hutchinson, who has since been hired as the Marijuana Policy Project’s president and CEO, said that 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.” 

“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,” Hutchinson said. 

To that end, the economics have only been one facet of Illinois’ new marijuana law. Like other states, Illinois has made a concerted effort to correct previous marijuana-related convictions. 

Pritzker was the first to announce that Illinois legalization had been implemented. He offered more than 11,000 pardons of nonviolent cannabis offenders.

“We are ending the 50-year-long war on cannabis,” Pritzker said at the time. “We are restoring rights to tens of thousands of Illinoisans. Our goal is to bring safety and regulation to an unsafe and dangerous market. And we are creating a new industry that puts equity at its very core.”

Pritzker also did the same for 2021. He issued more than 9000 pardons to low-level cannabis offenders, and extinguished more than 490,000. pot-related arrests.

“Statewide, Illinoisans hold hundreds of thousands low-level cannabis-related records, a burden disproportionately shouldered by communities of color,” Pritzker said in a statement released at the time. “We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of that damage. But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past—and the decency to set a better path forward.”

Although most states have already legalized marijuana through the ballot, Illinois was the first state to do it through the legislature in 2019. Pritzker spoke out at the signing.

“As the first state in the nation to fully legalize adult-use cannabis through the legislative process, Illinois exemplifies the best of democracy: a bipartisan and deep commitment to better the lives of all of our people,” said Pritzker.

“Legalizing adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do. The legislation will erase the cannabis-related criminal records of nonviolent offenders by combining automatic expungement with gubernatorial Pardon and individual court action. I’m so proud that our state is leading with equity and justice in its approach to cannabis legalization and its regulatory framework. Because of the work of the people here today and so many more all across our state, Illinois is moving forward with empathy and hope.”