CHICAGO (CBS) — While many businesses have been struggling to survive during the pandemic, Illinois pot dispensaries have continued to thrive, setting another sales record in July.
The $61 million in recreational marijuana sales last month represented a 28% increase over June, when Illinois had $47.6 million in sales, according to the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Those figures do not include medical marijuana sales.
Sales of recreational pot have increased each month since February, which saw a slight drop in sales from January, the first month of legal weed in Illinois.
Marijuana dispensaries have been deemed essential businesses during the pandemic, allowing them to remain open during the early months of the outbreak, when most businesses were forced to close.
So far this year, recreational pot dispensaries in Illinois have sold nearly 6.7 million marijuana products worth a total of more than $300 million.
However, due to the pandemic, the state has delayed plans to issue 75 new dispensary licenses that were supposed to go out May 1, with preference given to so-called “social equity” applicants, who are eligible for lower fees and for business loans to help get their businesses off the ground.
To qualify as a social equity applicant, a majority of the company’s ownership must either have spent 5 of the last 10 years living in an area disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, or have a prior arrest or conviction for a drug-related crime that is eligible for engagement; or have at least 10 full-time employees, most of whom who would meet the social equity requirements.