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First month of Illinois pot sales netted nearly $40M

FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2020, file photo is a display case of cannabis edibles at the Sunnyside marijuana dispensary in Chicago. Illinois marijuana dispensaries sold nearly $40 million worth of recreational weed during the state's first month of legal sales, according to figures released Monday by the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

CHICAGO — Illinois marijuana dispensaries sold nearly $40 million worth of recreational weed during the state’s first month of legal sales, according to figures released Monday by the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Illinois residents bought more than $30.6 million in January, while out-of-state visitor sales totaled $8.6 million, the report shows. Dispensaries sold over 970,000 products.

“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. 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.”

The pace of sales slowed considerably from the first days of legalization. On Jan. 1, operators sold $3.2 million in pot products. By Jan. 5, total sales hit $10.8 million.

Since then, customers and dispensaries have complained about a dearth of available marijuana products. Those products are the most popular with both medical and recreational users, said some store owners, who were lawfully forced to reserve flower for patients.

However, even those with medical cards said they are having trouble with getting the products.

It could take months before the supply catches up with demand, as only 21 cultivators are authorized to grow and produce marijuana products, experts said.

Demand has continued despite statewide product shortages, which indicates strong market potential in Illinois, said Bethany Gomez, managing director of cannabis research firm Brightfield Group. Some dispensaries have implemented buying restrictions or limited recreational sales to two or three days a week.

“There’s a lot more consumer demand that’s not being met just because of those supply shortages,” she said. “Once supply and demand issues can start to be worked out, we can see much greater growth.”

Last month, the Illinois Department of Agriculture released applications for cannabis infuser, craft grower and transporter licenses. Applications, which will be accepted starting February 14, must be submitted by March 16.

Illinois was the second state in the Midwest to launch recreational pot sales. Michigan was the first.

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