Illinois' legal cannabis industry just closed out another banner year with brand-new annual and monthly adult-use sales records.
According to new data from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), the state's adult-use shops sold an eye-watering $1,552,324,820 worth of legal weed last year. That sum is about 12% higher than the $1.38 billion that dispensaries sold in 2021 and 131% higher than the $669 million reported in 2020. And these impressive totals don't even account for medical marijuana sales, which are tracked by a different agency.
Recreational pot shops also set another all-time sales record last December, selling 3.45 million individual cannabis products for $143.9 million. The previous monthly sales record, set in December 2021, was for $137.9 million and around 3.2 million purchases. Independence Day sales almost helped push last July to the top spot, with nearly $136 million in sales, but nothing beats that December sales rush.
Illinois' adult-use industry has made an impressive $3.6 billion in all-time sales since first opening for business in January 2020. In general, about two-thirds of these total purchases were made by local Illinoisans. In 2022, dispensaries sold over $1.07 billion worth of recreational bud to locals, while out-of-state residents nabbed another $479.2 million worth of weed.
These steadily-growing sales will likely set a new annual record for pot tax revenue. In the prior fiscal year, which ran from mid-2021 until last summer, adult-use shops had already sold $1.5 billion worth of bud. That sum brought in nearly $450 million in tax revenue, which was used to fund community reinvestment programs, cannabis expungements, and other restorative justice projects.
“When I signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act into law in 2019, we set out on an ambitious goal: to create the most equitable and economically prosperous cannabis industry in the nation,” said Governor JB Pritzker in a statement. “Our data from 2022 shows that we are well on our way towards making that idea a reality.”
But while the state is meeting its goals to distribute pot tax revenue to communities most heavily impacted by prohibition, officials are struggling to foster an equitable cannabis industry. According to another recent IDFPR report, 61% of all employees in the state's adult-use industry are white. That percentage narrows even more at the top – white people account for 88% of the majority of business owners and 90% of boards of director positions.
To help foster diversity, the state finally granted its first three social equity cannabis dispensary licenses last year. These minority-owned shops are now open for business, but they must still compete with 110 other dispensaries, many of which have been open for three years. Regulators are currently working to approve another 189 social equity licenses, which will hopefully help the state's cannabis industry find a more equitable balance of ownership.