Last week, cities and towns across the US State of Illinois celebrated more than the beginning of a new decade. Following a legislature law change year, Illinois also welcomed the introduction of a new legal Cannabis market. But things haven’t gone as smoothly as some might have hoped.
On the first day of legalisation (1st January), it is estimated that the State of Illinois raised around $3.2 million in Cannabis sales. Sales remained strong on the second day, raising a further $2.2 million. However, as expected many Cannabis dispensaries soon began to experience shortages, with some even closing their doors to the public.
Stock shortages began early on, as one dispensary ceased Cannabis flower sales on day one. Many more outlets soon began prioritising Medical Cannabis patients – as required by State law – over recreational users. Despite disappointment among many customers, industry spokespersons stated that the shortage was expected.
Jeremy Unruh, a spokesperson for Pharmacann, told NBC Chicago:
“Day one and week one are not perfect, but they are going as we anticipated.”
However, shortages are not the only issue affecting the new legal Cannabis market in Ilinois. Customers have also been disheartened by the cost of the Cannabis products on offer in the State. In some cases, products cost double the amount as in other States that have legalised the drug.
For example, an eighth of an ounce of Cannabis flower can be bought for around $35 in States like Washington and Oregon. Compare this to around $70 in Illinois. The high price of Cannabis products is partly down to high taxes on the industry, as some customers have discovered.
One customer took to Twitter to complain about prices:
“I don’t want Illinois politicians claiming this State to be broke. Look at these tax rates for Cannabis.”
The tweet, and others like it, was accompanied by a photo of a purchase receipt. The receipts show a total of around 33% tax added to the total cost of Cannabis products.
However, the current issue with supply has also had a bearing on prices. The State of Illinois does not currently produce enough Cannabis to meet the high demand of the market. This pushes up the costs of Cannabis products.
A spokesperson for Cannabis research firm Brightfield Group, Andy Seeger, said:
“One thing that we need to think about is that this was a rather accelerated timeline, we’ve seen Illinois go from no marijuana to fully legalized cannabis in ten years, which is the quickest timeline we’ve seen in any state”.
Seeger adds that as growers become more numerous in the State, customers should eventually begin to see prices start to decline. However, there is little certainty over when this might be.