Illinois' legal cannabis market just busted through a two-month sales slump with the second-highest sales total recorded since the state began selling adult-use weed.
Last year was a banner year for the Prairie State's legal weed market, with new sales records being broken on a near-monthly basis. By the end of 2021, adult-use shops had sold more than 30 million cannabis products, raking in nearly $1.38 billion in total sales. Sales started off slow last year, but gradually picked up throughout the spring and summer. And last December, the state broke a new sales record with nearly $138 million in sales.
Sales dropped off quickly after December's peak, though. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reported that January's sales dipped to around $117 million, the lowest total recorded since June of 2021. In February, that number slipped even further to just under $114 million. But now that spring has sprung, the state's weed market has begun to thaw. This March, adult-use retailers moved nearly $131 million worth of product, the second-largest monthly total since the legal market kicked off in 2020.
Nearly a third of all adult-use purchases last month were made by weed lovers from Indiana, Wisconsin, and other nearby states that continue to ban cannabis. Out of March's total $131 million in sales, $40.5 million worth of pot was snatched up by out-of-state residents. The percentage of out-of-state sales has remained steady over the years, accounting for $436.2 million worth of 2021's $1.4 billion total.
The state's medical marijuana dispensaries also sold an additional $32 million worth of legal weed last month. This figure is 10% lower than it was in March of 2021, but is up 13 percent from February's comparatively dismal sales. Taking both adult-use and medical sales into account, Illinois sold $162.9 worth of legal cannabis last month, a 14.6% increase over February.
This winter's slump had some industry stakeholders worried about their future, but March's total sales suggest that this year's sales are likely to break another record. Last year, the state sold $1.78 billion in combined adult-use and medical cannabis sales, a 72% increase over 2020. And despite the two-month slump, this year's sales are already 20% higher than 2021's first quarter.
The state's legal cannabis shops aren't the only ones making bank off these impressive sales. Last year, the Illinois Department of Revenue collected about $387 million in cannabis tax revenue – eclipsing the $291 million it made from alcohol taxes. Illinois has been putting this windfall to good use, funding programs that support economic and youth development, civil legal aid, and violence prevention. Some weed tax revenue is even funding a program that helps former cannabis offenders get their criminal records expunged.