Illinois reports over US$1 billion in cannabis sales, expunges pot-arrest records

As 2020 recedes into the rear-view mirror of history, two big cannabis stories have come out of the state

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As 2020 recedes into the rear-view mirror of history, two big cannabis stories have come out of Illinois.

Recreational cannabis sales officially became legal in the state on January 1 of last year. How much do Illinoisans like their legal weed? According to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, they like it to the tune of US$1,000,308,800.

That’s the total of both adult-use recreational sales and medical-cannabis sales. Not the complete total, mind you: according to the IDFPR, medical sales numbers from December are not yet available.

Exceeding expectations

Eighty recreational dispensaries operate in Illinois. However, Jason Erkes—chief communications officer for Cresco Labs—said the state has the capacity to accommodate 500.

Erkes noted that 2020’s figures show that sales are outpacing previous estimates. “They’ve said all along that Illinois’ expected to be between a $2-and-$4 billion market at maturity,” he told Fox 32 Chicago. “No one thought that a billion would be the first year. So it definitely exceeded people’s expectations.”

Governor expunges convictions

In other news from Illinois, the state’s Democratic governor, JB Pritzker, ended 2020 by issuing more than 500,000 expungements and pardons for individuals with low-level cannabis convictions.

“Statewide, Illinoisans hold hundreds of thousands of low-level cannabis-related records, a burden disproportionately shouldered by communities of color,” Pritzker said in a statement. “We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of that damage. But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past—and the decency to set a better path forward.”

Pritzker’s announcement came one year after he issued 11,000 pardons for low-level pot convictions on the eve of legalization.

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