Illinois pot sales have fallen sharply since hitting record-high in December

Sales have dropped significantly since Illinois dispensaries released a record $137million worth recreational cannabis products last December. This raises concerns that consumers might be being pushed into the illicit market by the limited supply and high prices. 

Illinois’ 110 licensed pot shops tallied $117 million in sales in January and just under $114 million in February, the lowest monthly haul since last March. 

Massive monthly receipts had been one of the few bright spots for Illinois’ highly regulated recreational pot program, which has generated over $2 billion in sales over its first two years despite some month-to-month dips. 

However, recreational sales have been plagued by controversy due to lawsuits over the licensing process that have hampered the issuance of permits for so-called social equality applicants. This designation was created in order to diversify the white-dominated sector.

Andy Seeger, a former cannabis analyst and consultant, stated that the recent drop in sales is likely due to high prices. He also attributed it to a lack supply and limited retail options.

“Right now it’s just a captive market in which the ability to grow … is just really monopolized,”Seeger said that other states are experiencing more steady sales increases.

Seeger stated that lowering prices is ultimately dependent on state officials, as an eighth-ounce of flowers can still be sold in some cases for $80 after tax. “getting out of the way and really allowing competition.” Until then, Seeger noted, the state’s robust black market will remain dominant.

A Cook County judge’s order has held up the issuance of 185 dispensary licenses while litigation winds through the court system. State officials previously issued 40 craft cultivation licenses last year, and 60 more are expected soon after a Sangamon County judge lifted similar orders last week in a separate case.

Still, a small cadre of cultivation centers that exclusively supplied the state’s medical cannabis program continues to corner the market on cultivation. Douglas Kelly, president and CEO of the Cannabis Equity Illinois Alliance, stated to the Sun-Times, that the newly licensed growers have yet not harvested any weed for sale.

Social equity players push for more pot law changes

An influential coalition of entrepreneurs from color gathered in downtown to chart a course forward on Thursday. The coalition was led by Rickey Hendon (former state senator), who is part of the group. This coalition advocates for people of color who have been largely excluded from the legal cannabis industry and are the ones who bear the brunt of cannabis enforcement. 

Hendon said the state is losing out to $1 billion in cannabis revenues as members of the group tried to get legislators support a variety bills. These proposals would create a simplified cannabis oversight committee; allow licensed transporters home delivery; remove barriers for people looking to work in this industry; and expand both the cultivation capacity and the rules for public use.

However, many of those measures have been sent to the House Rules Committee, where cannabis activist and dispensary license awardee Edie Moore complained they’re “dying.”She urged Chris Welch, House Speaker, to call them for a vote.

“All of these people and thousands more who are waiting on their opportunity to get into the industry are waiting on you, Speaker Welch,”Moore spoke to reporters outside the Thompson Center.

Hendon was the leader of the dispensary applicants’ protests over application grading. Later, he helped to draft legislation that allowed many of the permits that are still in limbo. Hendon seemed relieved that he was able to help his fellow dispensary applicants. “are at this stage where we can move forward.”

“It’s been a long damn time,”Hendon, who was able to obtain one of the dispensary licensing he pushed to release, said that Hendon. 

State will accept applications for 55 additional pot shop licences

Meanwhile, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration announced new rules to simplify the application process for dispensary permits, “remove barriers for social equity applicants”And “expand opportunities to the communities most impacted by the failed war on drugs.”According to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which oversees pot shops, the overhaul is part of an overall effort to issue 55 additional dispensary permit permits. 

The new rules will allow applicants to apply online, providing basic information and paying a $250 fee. Principal officers can’t be included on more than one lottery entry, and applicants can’t have more than one lottery spot across the 17 regions where licenses are designated.

“I appreciate all the feedback we have received from stakeholders since the start of the cannabis program, whose work informed this proposal and is continuing to make Illinois’ growing cannabis industry the most equitable in the nation,” said Pritzker.

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