Illinois hasn’t even rolled out legal weed sales yet, and analysts are already predicting that the Land of Lincoln may become one of the nation’s biggest marijuana producers within just a few years.
According to estimates from the cannabis analytics firm New Frontier Data, Illinois’s regulated marijuana market will produce one million pounds of weed within its first five years of business, rivaling pot powerhouse states such as California and Colorado.
“The demand is already there, it’s just being supported by the illicit market,” New Frontier’s executive vice president and senior economist, Beau Whitney, told the Chicago Tribune. “Once there is a deployed legal, regulated market...you’ll see a precipitous increase in legal sales.”
Of course, predicting the future is a tricky proposition, and experts have overshot their numbers in the past. For instance, analysts thought California would make $1 billion in tax revenue from licensed weed sales during the Golden State’s first year of legalization. Instead, Californians bought considerably less, forcing the state to readjust its tax estimates by $223 million, largely due to high retail prices and stiff competition with the underground, or black, market.
However, New Frontier’s prediction isn’t based solely on licensed cannabis cultivation. The firm also included legal home grows in its estimates. Currently, medical marijuana patients in Illinois can grow up to five plants at home. Recreational, or adult-use, consumers are not allowed to grow their own at home.
Furthermore, New Frontier’s latest report agrees with a separate analysis by the Brightfield Group that was published in May. Brightfield’s analysis, like New Frontier’s, predicted that Illinois would become one of the top five cannabis producing states in the US within its first few years of legalization. Brightfield also predicted that America’s East Coast weed market would eventually dominate 34 percent of the nation’s pot sales, while the first states to legalize — primarily on the West Coast — would make up just 20 percent of US weed sales once New York State and New Jersey enter the recreational markets.
With Illinois being the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis, it’s in a unique position to learn from the mistakes made by other states that have already legalized. Although the state is the first to include social equity and social justice provisions in its legalization law, it will likely suffer the same supply shortage issues experienced by Colorado, Washington State, California, and Canada shortly after it launches adult-use sales on January 1.
Follow Randy Robinson on Twitter