Last year, Illinois simply could not stop smoking previously-set cannabis sales records.
By that, we mean sales figures from 2021 surpassed 2020’s (the year recreational cannabis was legalized in the state) by a wide margin, shattering both 2020’s year-end total overall and 2021’s own previous single-month high.
What did you think we meant by “smoking?”
On Monday, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation published its findings for the state’s cannabis industry, and 2021’s takeaways are nothing short of impressive:
- Nearly $1.4 billion was sold in Illinois in 2021, more than doubling 2020’s total of $669 million.
- Sales in December 2021 topped out at $137.9 million, overtaking the then-best monthly total of $127.8 million, set in July 2021.
- Illinois residents purchased $943 million worth of cannabis products, while non-Illinois residents purchased more than $436 million.
All told, sales from 2021 generated $387.7 million in tax revenue. If you thought any of that cash was going to pay for some kind of mass celebration or smokeout, think again. Illinois reinvests the bulk of the money back into the state; more than a third of it into the state’s general revenue fund, 10% to its creditors, eight percent to law enforcement, and two percent to public safety campaigns.
On top of that, almost 25 cents of every cannabis dollar go to community groups via the Restore, Reinvest & Renew Program. Economically underdeveloped communities, as one might expect, are at the top of the list to receive those funds and, to date, $35 million of that has already been distributed.
Numbers don’t lie, and the enthusiasm for regulated and responsible adult-use cannabis in Illinois is fully evident. Over the past two decades, it seemed like Illinois always made news headlines for all the wrong reasons, but here’s a positive story out of the Land of Lincoln and one to keep an eye on in the near future.