Illinois Made $40 Million in Weed Revenue From Out-of-State Visitors In One Month
That means big bucks for the social justice programs Illinois's weed taxes fund.
Published on December 16, 2022

Here's some financial motivation for the Midwest states to kick into gear with legalizing recreational weed: an Illinois state agency recently announced that visitors from out-of-state purchased $40,662,494 of adult-use cannabis in October alone.

The craziest part? That's not even the highest figure from the last few months. In July, Illinois unloaded upwards of $43.5 million to visitors from neighboring states. The average figure for tourist tokes is around $39 million per month.

Sales numbers are released monthly by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. That office also keeps track of total sales figures to keep a thermometer on how the state's cannabis industry is functioning.

The monthly sales average is currently hovering below $128 million, and during the first 10 months of 2022, Illinois dispensaries unloaded $1.2 billion in pot.

Indeed, after a slow start at the beginning of the year, Illinois has reported some significant numbers regarding the state's legal cannabis sales. In July, a Department of Revenue report announced that $1.5 billion of adult-use cannabis was sold during 2021. The figure is nearly double the amount consumers spent on legal weed in Illinois in the 2020 fiscal year—that means the amount of taxes generated by the state's cannabis sales also doubled. That's good news for the community funds supported by those weed dollars.

"The $1.5 billion in sales of adult-use cannabis in Illinois translates into significant tax revenue with a portion of every dollar spent being reinvested in communities that have suffered for decades," said Governor J.B. Pritzker in a press statement.

The governor was largely referring to the state's Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) program, which funnels a quarter of weed tax revenue to legal aid, youth development, community re-entry, and financial support for communities hit the hardest by Drug War policing.

Last year, Illinois hit a milestone when it announced that it was earning more tax revenue from cannabis than from alcohol sales.

Such sales figures also put the state in the nation's second-place spot for most lucrative greens, though it's still trailing the number one California by a considerable amount. (Clocking in at slightly less than half of Cali's monthly sales figures.)

The current sales totals released by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation indicate that the state is on track to best that figure this year.

Out-of-state shopping is a phenomenon worth studying in a country where cannabis laws vary wildly from state to state. But it may not be 100 percent attributed to prohibition in certain areas. A market analysis published earlier this year by the Portland Business Journal based on data accumulated by the user-powered site Price of Weed found that an ounce of weed usually retailed around $210 in Oregon, compared with $382 an ounce in North Dakota. How committed are you to your bargain shopping?

Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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