No snow this year deprived midwesterners of a White Christmas, but cannabis consumers in Illinois made sure this past December was a green Christmas. With $137.9 million in monthly sales – more than double the $669 in sales for December 2020 – the Illinois cannabis industry had a record-breaking month.
Published by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the December 2021 sales topped the previous monthly record of $127.8 million set in July 2021. The December numbers were the first double-digit monthly increase since the record-setting July totals. It would appear residents prefer a chill Fourth of July along with a mellow Christmas in the company of their favorite strain rolled in excellent hemp wraps.
Illinois benefits from being the first fully legal state in the Midwest and attracts many nearby out-of-state customers from states that have not moved as quickly toward legalization. In-state residents bought $943 million, while out-of-state residents bought more than $436 million.
These numbers bode well for the state as well as the cannabis industry. The state collected $387.7 million in taxes for the prior (non-record breaking) year. Depending on the product’s potency, taxes on cannabis can be up to 40 percent or more.
A percentage of the cannabis tax revenue goes toward programs to aid communities harmed by the “War On Drugs.”
Nearly one-fourth of every marijuana tax dollar goes to community groups through the Restore, Reinvest and Renew Program. The taxes are split several ways – over a third goes to the state’s general revenue fund, ten percent goes to unpaid bills, eight percent goes to law enforcement, and two percent goes to public safety campaigns.
Illinois awarded 185 new recreational dispensary licenses last summer through three lotteries focusing on social equity applicants. Litigation challenging the process has delayed the rollout.
Last month, Governor Pritzker’s administration released a statement saying, “areas eligible for funding were identified using community-level data on gun injury, child poverty, unemployment, and state prison commitments and returns, combined with disproportionately impacted areas identified by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.”
With record-breaking numbers in 2021, Illinois may experience similar recording-breaking numbers for 2022.